Buckets are one of the most commonly used attachments for compact equipment, specifically compact track loaders and skid-steer loaders. And while a bucket may seem like a one-size-fits-all attachment, there are many types to choose from, depending on your application. Working with the right bucket not only goes a long way toward meeting your daily production goals, but also eases the frustrations of your operators.
With the right loader bucket, your operators and field teams can increase project productivity and reduce operating costs. To improve the way your business works and, in turn, improve your bottom line, look for a bucket that meets your organization’s needs in the following areas.
Weight & Capacity
Prior to performing tasks like loading, carrying and stockpiling, determine the bucket weight and capacity. Calculate the average density of the material to be moved and compare that to the tipping load and lifting capacity of the loader to ensure the material can be moved safely.
If you are working with different types of materials, identify the heaviest material the bucket will handle. Pushing a machine beyond these limits can accelerate wear, affect machine durability and significantly lower your return on investment.
Bucket choices for compact track loaders and skid-steer loaders are numerous, so it’s important that you understand the differences to choose a style that best meets your needs. Consider the following:
- Dirt buckets—A popular choice for bulk applications, traditional dirt buckets are rugged and durable, making them a good choice for digging, as well as moving dirt and rocks.
- General-purpose buckets—For maximum filling and material retention, the most common bucket design is general-purpose, which is ideal for light-duty grading and leveling applications, as well as day-to-day material handling. They offer good breakout force, especially when working on general aggregates in construction and municipal applications.
- Heavy-duty and severe-duty buckets—For more abrasive applications, consider pairing your loader with a heavy-duty or severe-duty bucket. Typically, they are designed for heavy-duty grading and leveling, as well as moving higher-density materials in construction and industrial applications.
- Light material buckets—If you are looking to move larger loads with smaller densities, a snow or light-material bucket may be an economical solution for you. Light material buckets offer higher capacities than general-purpose buckets, making them ideal for lifting mulch and similarly weighted materials—primarily snow.
- Low-profile buckets—A low-profile bucket is a popular choice in leveling and grading applications for its longer lip and lower back, which provide exceptional visibility of the cutting edge while performing work in tight spaces on the jobsite.
- Rock buckets—Great for handling sediment and debris in construction applications, the rock bucket features tines, helping to easily separate materials while the soil sifts through.
- Specialty buckets—If your jobsite calls for a different bucket style and design, look at specialty buckets. Many compact equipment manufacturers make a variety of unique buckets, including rock and combination (four-in-one).
Cutting through material is often easier with ground-engaging tools. Many manufacturers offer a vast number of interchangeable bolt-on teeth options for specific buckets. For example, weld-on teeth are offered for heavy-duty buckets, such as rock buckets, to reduce wear. Additionally, replaceable cutting edges and extra guarding can be added to buckets, protecting the equipment and promoting overall productivity.
There are times when more than one bucket is necessary for your application. On most manufacturers’ machines, an attachment quick-change mechanism is standard, allowing for the easy change of buckets. While these systems can save you time, construction business owners should consider adding a powered quick-attach mechanism to their loaders as well. These mechanisms provide extra efficiency by allowing the rapid change of buckets and other non-hydraulic attachments from the comfort and security of a cab.
With the right loader bucket, your operators and field teams can increase productivity and reduce operating costs. Before selecting a bucket, consider the weight/capacity, application(s), accessories and couplers that can be used in tandem with ease.