Skid steers are often considered the handiest machines with a myriad of uses across a broad range of sectors.
The skid steer or skidsteer is a relatively small device with a sophisticated auxiliary hydraulic system and an extensive range of labour-saving attachment options that offer the ability to carry out many different types of job.
Skid steers with arms can be used for heavy lifting; buckets can be used for tipping while bulldozing and digger attachments make it perfect for earthmoving or landscaping tasks.
Not for nothing are they called the 'Swiss army knives' of the construction and groundworks industries.
The biggest advantages of using skid steers on building sites are their excellent manoeuvrability, high ground friction, compact build and tight turning circle.
Skid steer machines are typically four-wheeled machines with independent drives for left and right side wheels that allow them to turn by 'skidding' round on wheels or tracks.
The small but sturdy rigid frames and reinforced wheel bearings to make skid steers both agile and robust.
They come in several sizes and can be either tracked or wheeled. Which one to hire depends on the job it is intended for, as each has its own capabilities.
The different sizes of skid steers
Small framed or mini skid steers are highly suitable for small scale landscaping or for use on building sites where their compact size and excellent manoeuvrability make them a great asset.
They are often used for site development and finishing off work like topsoil laying. They are also used where space is tightest such as in narrow passageways or low ceiling buildings.
Medium-sized machines or midi skid steers make up the bulk of the plant hire market. The extra engine size and hydraulic power make them the most versatile and larger bucket sizes can turn them into real workhorses.
Larger size skid steers are powerful enough to tackle major earthmoving and loading operations and can be found on major road construction sites or projects that require heavy lifting operations.
Maxi skid steers can be used to move heavy loads such as large pallets of bricks and other building materials or, with large capacity bucket attachments, tip large amounts of soil into waiting trucks, in fact, any job that requires extra performance such as bulldozing or tree felling.
Choosing which skid steer to hire
There are some disadvantages to hiring a skid steer machine. One of the few drawbacks of skid steers is the damage they can cause to ground surfaces. The 'skidding' operation of the wheels or tracks can chew up the ground.
Working in mud or softer soil can cause problems, and the alternative use of a compact loader may be more practical. Before embarking on skid steer hire it is a good idea to evaluate the job you want it to do. The primary considerations should include:
- The working area and space available to operate the skid steer
- The weight of loads it is likely to be called upon to lift.
- The type of operation requires such as lifting, dozing, drilling, demolishing, earthmoving, etc.
- The surfaces on which it will operate and damage it may cause.
There are many types of skid steer available on the market today, and each has its own particular strengths. The CAT 272D XHP, for example, is a high-performance machine powered by an electronically controlled engine. Its larger lift cylinders give exceptional lifting power and electrically activated couplers eliminate the need for hydraulic lines and valves. The CAT skid steer boats an intelligent self-levelling system that keeps the machine stable when raising or lowering heavy loads.
And the JCB 155 is a new generation skid steer with radial lift and a 1,555 lbs. capacity. Electro-hydraulic servo control improves service access and minimises the possibility of leaks while the single arm design makes them easy to enter. The JCB skid steer comes with more than 30 types of attachment and an optional hydraulic quick hitch that makes switching attachments a breeze.