Bobcat Co. is a pioneer of compact equipment, and the original brand of skid steers. Bobcat built 200 M-400 units (the first true four-wheel skid steers) from 1960 to 1962. Since then, it has elevated compact categories like excavators, track loaders, telehandlers, utility vehicles and compact tool carriers — machines that all take attachments. In fact, the idea of ultra-versatile compact machines wielding multiple attachments using ultra-easy quick-attach plates has important roots at Bobcat. Its M970 skid steer incorporated the first lever-actuated attachment mounting device in 1970 instead of using traditional pin-on implements. It was called the Bob-Tach system when it was patented in 1972.
Fast-forward to 2019, and Bobcat is releasing another equally bold concept to the skid steer and track loader markets (track loaders being basically skid steers on tracks). The Bob-Dock system was announced at World of Concrete in January, and it is the first skid steer and track loader quick-attach system where the operator does not need to leave the cab. You, the reader, might think: Why is that so innovative? Well, one of the major cons of operating a skid steer or track loader is the difficulty of entry and egress. Unless you’re operating a JCB or Volvo single-boom unit, operators must descend backwards over the attachment using three points of contact. While operators can attach and detach attachments in the cab, they always need to get out to hook up hydraulic hoses. Not anymore.
Here’s how it works: To connect an attachment to the Bob-Dock system, an operator lines up the loader with the attachment’s Bob-Dock adapter plate. The operator then presses the Power Bob-Tach switch inside the cab. The Bob-Tach system secures the attachment, while the Bob-Dock system automatically connects the hydraulics. The attachment is then ready to use. When detaching, retract the Bob-Tach wedges and pull away. The hydraulics instantly release. With the Bob-Dock system, skid steer and track loader operators will not have to worry about projects that require lots of attachment switching — an advantage often given to compact tool carriers/mini skid steers and compact wheel loaders.
Now, we know what you’re thinking: Will this work with all your crazy third-party attachments? Unfortunately, no. Only approved Bobcat attachments, but the company is quick to note that “while the Bob-Dock attachment mounting system’s floating coupler block equips your loader with a hands-free connection point, the standard couplers located on the lift arm remain ready to use,” according to the press release. So, it works like a regular skid steer with aftermarket implements. But still, this is a great concept, and it’s something I feel other manufacturers will start exploring because it’s just another competitive advantage that will only make the original skid steer brand more popular.