In late January, John Deere introduced the new 344L compact wheel loader at an industry show in Las Vegas. Although this machine comes out of the green brand’s yellow construction side, it is also being marketed as an ideal fit for an on-farm fleet.
“The 344L is a quick, nimble machine that is optimized for handling tight turns while maintaining heavy loads,” said Drew Miller, Deere’s product marketing manager for compact wheel loaders, in a press release.
This loader uses an articulated chassis with rear axle oscillation to follow the terrain. Plus, it comes with a central boom for load handling, and it also gets another feature to make it even more nimble. This is what the brand calls an “articulation plus” steering system. Not only does the chassis pivot, it also adds rear-wheel steering for an even tighter turning radius.
Lift capacity is a healthy 12,650 pounds (5,750 kgs). There is also an improved engine layout and better cooling capacity for working in dusty environments. It’s also reasonably fast with a 25 m.p.h. (40 km/h) road speed.
New from JCB
England-based JCB (see at top) has added a larger ag-focused model to its stable of articulating, telescopic loaders. It one-ups the smaller Model 320 that the brand says has been popular with farmers.
“This is like the next step up for those who want increased capacity,” said Joe Eddleston, JCB product manager. “The TM320 today is a very popular machine with beef and dairy farmers. It is designed for those who want to load large-scale diet mixes on large dairy or beef farms.”
The TM 420 is built on a stronger chassis that can lift 4.1 tonnes and has a maximum lift height of 5.4 metres.
“You get the benefit of a wheel loader with a telescopic arm to get that reach capability and lift height,” Eddleston added.
Underneath the rear hood is a 145-horsepower JCB Ecomax diesel that routes power to the wheels through a 45 km/h six-speed powershift transmission.
“It has larger axles. Obviously it’s carrying more load than the TM320, so a lot of the machine has been beefed up or scaled up in size,” Eddleston said. “We’ve gone to a 26-inch wheel, where the smaller (TM320) machine is on a 24 inch.”
All the maintenance points have easy access. But for those who frequently forget to do a daily walk around, the machine will take care of that itself.
“When the machine is started in the morning, it will effectively do its own daily checks,” Eddleston explained. “So you don’t even need to open the hood. It’s a way to get the machine up and running faster… and various people tend not to check them these days.”
G Series from CASE
CASE Construction, the partner brand of Case IH, introduced its G Series line of wheel loaders last August, and marketers there are focusing on selling to agricultural producers too. With models from 141- to 347-horsepower range, they have bucket capacities ranging from 2.1 to a massive 6.25 cubic yards.
Designers of the new CASE loaders also turned their attention to operator comfort. The cabs rely on “automotive inspiration,” which the brand claims helps make the control layout more intuitive. Its control arrangement will feel a lot like a car or pickup.
CASE also added ergonomic features, such as a membrane-covered keypad that replaces the previous toggle switch array. An options package allows buyers to better configure the control arrangement for handling typical ag jobs, and all machine functions are monitored on the eight-inch LCD screen.
Up front, bucket linkage options allow the machine to be configured for maximum breakout force with the Z-bar or for better handling materials with the XT.
The G Series uses a new chassis design that allows the engines to be positioned lower in the frame, which provides for better stability. The engines are mated to a four-speed powershift transmission capable of road speeds up to 40 km/hr.