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The world of construction equipment has changed exponentially in recent years. But despite all the newness – and the admitted advantages of new designs — one thing has not changed. We continue to love the backhoe. That’s because when it comes to construction equipment versatility, it’s still hard to beat the backhoe.
These talented machines have been working construction sites for more than six decades. They work in light construction but can just as easily handle heavy-duty jobs. They work in cities and out in the fields of agriculture. They fill the fleets of private contractors and municipalities. They dig, they push, they scoop and carry and load.
That makes them sort of like an excavator and sort of like a skid steer. No wonder we love that versatility. And no wonder so many manufacturers – of tractors and heavy construction equipment – have gotten into the act. Of course today’s backhoe is hardly your (great)grandfather’s machine.
An array of sizes and the ability to accept multiple attachments now makes the backhoe even more valuable for contractors of all types. You can configure the machine to handle specific tasks or conditions. Popular choices:
Backhoes now come with four-wheel-drive as an option. Here in the northeast, that extra traction can greatly extend your working seasons. That means more money in your pocket. You can work year round, if you use your backhoe to plow snow.
In-cab amenities make a tremendous difference, too. Across the board, today’s construction equipment is definitely a more hospitable place to work. For backhoe operators, sound systems, toasty heating and cooling AC, more comfortable seats and smoother, smarter controls all add up to a better, more productive day.
Extendable dipper sticks on the hoe end of the machine are becoming especially popular. Some contractors say this alone has doubled or tripled the amount of work they can complete. Set-up and reset times are shorter. You can reach farther before having to move the machine. You can reach higher, too.
Other contractors say adding optional lighting to their backhoe allows gives their operators better visibility no matter the conditions – low natural light, dust storms, etc. You can aim lights high and low on the front, inward and outward on the back end.
Construction has always been an up-and-down business. But ever since the Great Recession, contractors have been especially focused on cost-effectiveness. You simply cannot afford equipment that won’t pay its way, no matter what it can do when it is working. The only way to win bids and remain productive (and profitable) is to outfit your fleet with multi-purpose equipment. Backhoes continue to fill the bill. You can always rent that specialty machine.
Backhoes bring another plus to your bottom line: they’re tough and durable. Aside from the obvious benefits, that toughness means backhoes can withstand operator variability. Novices, veterans, skills at every level in between – backhoes just take it in stride.
So what do you need to do? Dig a trench, scoop and load material? Break up concrete? Backfill? If you’re a small operator, you may have just one trusty backhoe. It’s your go-to machine. If your operation is big enough, you may own several. They’re probably still your go-to machines. So tell us. What’s your favorite “thing” about your backhoe(s)?