According to Bobcat, nearly one out of every two skid-steer loaders on the market is a Bobcat machine. The company, which produced its first skid-steer loader in 1960, recently announced seven new medium-size machines with extensive feature upgrades, including increased visibility, a more comfortable cab, and easier serviceability. New machines include the S510, S530, S550, S570, and S590 skid-steer loaders, and the T550 and T590 compact track loaders.
The S510, S550, and T550 feature a radius lift path for the reach and visibility required for dumping over a wall, backfilling, or loading flatbed trucks.
The S530, S570, S590, and T590 M-Series machines feature a vertical lift path, allowing heavier loads to be lifted higher to clear high-sided truck boxes and hoppers, as well as place pallets loaded with heavy material.
Bobcat says the M-Series loaders feature increased lift height, better performance, and increased operator comfort compared to the equivalent K-Series models—S150, S160, S175, S185, S205, T180, and T190—that they will replace.
The 500 frame-size loaders feature a unique cab-forward design that not only gives the machines a different look but also moves the operator closer to the attachment and provides improved visibility in all directions.
One new feature touted by Bobcat to offer increased visibility to the cutting edge of the bucket, or the corners of an attachment, is what it claims is the largest cab door opening on the market. The cab door threshold has been lowered and the overall surface of the door has increased more than 40% to not only improve visibility but to make it easier for operators to enter and exit the cab. The height of the cab has been increased, providing additional headroom, while still keeping the overall machine size small enough to operate in tight spaces.
Windows on the sides and rear of the cab have also been increased in size to provide more visibility to the tires and back of the machine. The larger top window makes it easier and more comfortable for the operator to see an attachment with the lift arms raised, an advantage when loading trucks or performing other tasks.
Simple check points were included in the machines’ design to make it easier to perform maintenance correctly at the proper intervals. The auxiliary hydraulic quick couplers are mounted directly to the front plate of the lift arm to provide a solid mounting, and hoses are routed through the loader arms for better protection.
A guard bar extends in front of the coupler for added security and a steel tailgate prevents items from penetrating the engine compartment.
Keeping the loaders cool when working long hours is important in prolonging the service life of the machine, and Bobcat says its engineers designed the cooling system with increased efficiency and higher performance in mind. The new design also makes it easier to clean out the cooling system, with an oil cooler that swings up, allowing the operator to clean the area between the oil cooler and the radiator.
Comfortable operators are more productive, so to create a better working environment, Bobcat increased the size of the 500 loader cab by 10%, redesigned the interior to allow operators to adjust the environment to their individual preferences, and improved cab pressurization.
The 500 loaders have what Bobcat claims as a best-in-class pressurized cab with a new one-piece seal that goes all the way around the door and fits into a special curved pocket. That design minimizes the amount of dirt and dust that might enter the cab, creating more enjoyable working conditions and making it easier to clean the cab.
Operators have the choice between standard foot pedal hydraulic controls, the Advanced Control System (ACS), or the Selectable Joystick Controls (SJC). The standard foot pedals control the lift and tilt through mechanical linkage.
Optional ACS lets the loader operator use a dash-mounted switch to instantly select between advanced hand control or advanced foot control of lift and tilt functions.
The low-effort control levers of the optional SJC can be operated in the ISO or H pattern. These handles move up and down in conjunction with the seat to reduce arm movement and operator fatigue. The joystick mounts also slide forward or backward to adjust to the preference of each individual operator.
The hydraulic systems on M-Series loaders have been engineered for higher standard flow and pressure, which gives attachments more power to work more quickly. Size, horsepower, and displacement are matched to the loader’s rated operating capacity, balance, and weight, producing a loader that can outperform higher-horsepower machines, says Bobcat.
The skid-steer models offer a two-speed option that boosts the maximum travel speed from 7.4 mph (12 km/h) in low range to 11 mph (18 km/h) in high range, reducing the time it takes to cross a large farm or acreage. The hydraulic bucket positioning option keeps the loader bucket level as the lift arms travel upward, enabling operators to work faster.
An optional instrumentation panel available only on M-Series loaders, intelligently monitors key loader functions, and the keyless start helps prevent theft. The 5-in, full-color LCD screen offers better readability and interaction. Easy-to-read virtual sweep gauges allow the operator to quickly read and understand the machine’s performance.