The Backhoe Loader
In the UK, the yellow digger on various types of construction sites, is generally called a JCB. Regardless of the manufacturer, this has become a generalised tradename, along the lines of Hoover, or Biro.
The basic of the machine is the tractor in which the operator/driver sits. Like most modern tractors the cab is closed in to give the operator protection.
Like a tractor, it will be working on rough ground and sports similar large, rugged tyres.
At the front of the tractor is the loader, a bucket used to lift material, or push earth like a bulldozer. It can carry auxiliary buckets and tools in it.
The backhoe is called as such, not because it is on the back of the machine, but because of the action it employs by drawing the material toward itself, in the manner of manually hoeing soil, before “collecting it under the chin” and dumping it to one side.
To utilise this, the operator turns the driver’s seat around to face the tasks.
The big step forward in backhoe construction was the employment of hydraulic legs, or outriggers which stabilise the tractor once it is in position to work.
These will take the majority of the weight when the backhoe is digging, and transmit the forces to the ground, rather than through the tyres, and also prevent the tractor constantly being bounced about. They also anchor the tractor safely.
The boom of the backhoe is pivoted which gives the arm the potential to cover a 180 degree swing.
The backhoe is the ideal tool for trench work, allowing one man to be able to dig a trench with the backhoe and backfill it with the loader.
This flexible construction tool gives each construction business a cost effective way of completing many construction roles with one machine. The reason that companies such as JCB (which predominantly makes backhoe loaders) are some of the biggest businesses in the UK is because of the versatility of backhoes to dig, move and carry.
There are more powerful machines available for specific construction needs, but as an all round work-horse, the backhoe is usually the starting tool of choice in construction projects.