Geelong’s Neil Hucker has used Case Construction Equipment skid steers since starting out with an 1845 model when he first established his business, NJ and HJ Hucker Excavations, 31 years ago. Today, Neil uses a 440 Series 3 skid steer loader, which has double the power and a more comfortable cab.
Case skid steers are celebrating their 40 year anniversary this year, and significant improvements in performance, power and comfort have been made since the 1969 launch of the 1530 model.
Neil explained that his first Case skid steer had a 48 Hp engine and rippers on the back, with five tynes that would loosen the soil. There was no cab – only ROPS bars, and the skid steer was the biggest one available at the time.
Neil's current 440 Series 3 skid steer loader has almost double the power, with its 90 Hp engine. The 440 Series 3 skid steer loader also has a fully enclosed cab with a suspension seat, making it much more comfortable to operate.
Over the years, Neil has owned seven Case skid steer loaders, upgrading on average every four years. He said that while the work hasn’t changed, efficiency has certainly improved.
“As well as increased power, features such as the two speed transmission on our current model, which enables us to travel at speeds up to 20 km per hour, have helped with efficiency. We can get around work sites faster which means getting the job done quicker. The fastest we could go on the 1845 was 10km per hour at a time and it was a bumpy ride without the fully suspended seats we have in the new models.”
In addition to vast improvements in equipment, Neil has also noticed significant changes to work practices since the launch of the Case skid steer.
“Work sites are also a lot cleaner than they used to be. Thirty years ago, builders would just dump their rubbish wherever and we’d come along with the skid steer and cart it out. You don’t see anything like that these days.”
With Case set to provide its 250,000th skid steer before the end of the year, fellow long-term skid steer operator Rob McClure, who runs R and R McClure Excavations at Castlemaine near Bendigo in Victoria, agrees that Case skid steers and work practices have come a long way.
“I’ve owned four Case skid steers over the years, starting out with an 1845 model. We currently use a 60XT skid steer and I’d say power and comfort are the biggest improvements over the years. We’re still doing the same work, but because we can do it more comfortably, our overall efficiency has increased by roughly 10 per cent.
Case skid steers continue to be the machine of choice among operators with the company reporting sales have increased for the first half of 2009, even in difficult market conditions with sales of skid steers overall down by 20 per cent this year.
“For us, the sales results are testament to the fact that we’re continuing to deliver machines which meet the needs of operators,” said Case Product Manager Kevin Pritchard. “Operators are demanding a skid steer that can make a difference in terms of productivity. The 400 Series 3, with its increased torque, roomy cab and easy to use controls, is testament to this.”