Equipment operators deserve a premium office space to work, and sometimes skid steers and track loaders struggle with creating that perfect cab environment. Operators must climb over that attachment to get in. It can be cramped, hard to see and sometimes difficult to locate controls and features. Well today, ASV might have redefined office comfort and safety for compact track loader operators. Let’s pull back the curtain.
This morning ASV Holdings Inc. introduced its MAX-Series compact track loaders — imagine them rolling onto a stage — the RT-65, VT-70 High Output, RT-75 and RT-75 Heavy-Duty MAX-Series Posi-Track loaders. You will immediately notice those crazy glass cabs (52 percent more glass area than previous ASV models and more glass than we’ve ever seen on a skid steer/track loader cab). These units look like concept models, but they are actually available to you CE reader (available at dealers by the end of August).
The inside looks just as high concept. A giant LCD monitor and Bluetooth radio are beautifully designed right in front of you. A fully-suspended seat features adjustable recline, slide, weight and four-way arm rest settings. There’s a sweet speaker system with perfect placement, and is that an escape hatch on the roof? Yes, it is.
This is all matched to those premium production features already associated with ASV — a company recently acquired by Yanmar — hydraulic performance, cooling capability, Posi-Track undercarriage technology and reliability and serviceability.
“It’s about the maximum — maximum comfort, maximum productivity, maximum visibility, maximum speed, maximum performance, maximum durability,” explained Buck Storlie, ASV Holdings product line manager, during the webinar. “Really at the end of the day, the most important thing, what really matters for our customers is maximum return on investment. Those objectives were all set forth to the engineering team, and I really think they achieved them.”
That Crazy Cab
First off, let’s talk about all that glass. One of the big complaints about skid steers and track loaders is their mediocre visibility issues. I have yet to operate these units, but the MAX-Series is changing the game on visibility (like JCB did with its one-armed loaders). The new cab provides maximum visibility, featuring floor-to-ceiling glass made possible by all clear sides and a frameless door. It looks like industrial art, especially that three-panel back glass area (watch the videos). It gives the operator 52 percent more glass area in the optional enclosed cab compared to previous ASV models. That allows premium 360-degree visibility with minimal obstructions to the operator’s line of sight, providing a better view of the attachment and surroundings. Visibility is further improved with standard LED lighting (also a big deal) and optional side lighting (a very cool feature).
But glass breaks, right?
“Durability obviously is important, and the customer wants that and that was in our design goals and definitely in our test goals,” said Storlie. “We’ve been in testing with this cab for over five years now. We’ve done things from in-house testing to shaker table testing to rock and thrown object [testing] … Also, [glass] is something used in the agricultural markets. You see it on that stuff all the time. You see it in automotive. You see it in a lot of other industries, and bringing it into construction was natural … We don’t see the need for all the extra steel that’s inhibiting visibility.”
Let’s Get Behind the Joysticks
Now this is an office. As mentioned, all-day comfort will start with a new fully suspended seat, featuring adjustable recline, slide, weight and four-way arm rest settings. ASV says: “The seat is the most customizable in the industry and is accessible to virtually all body types.” There’s also a cool one-sided lap bar that frees space around the operator’s waist and also makes entry and exit easier. More overall room is a theme — 2 more in. width at the shoulders, 8 in. wider at the knees and up to 4.5 in. more foot room. Heat and cold levels are further maintained with an updated HVAC system, allowing for better circulation and improved defrosting capabilities. The cab also features a new level of operator experience thanks to available Bluetooth radio, a speaker setup that just looks awesome and a new antenna placement for a better signal.
Let’s check out that monitor — an optional, state-of-the-art, 7-in. touch-screen display. The simple-to-use screen includes all vital monitoring tools, provides a view of the backup camera and integrates with service history and schedules like engine oil changes and other maintenance needs. There’s also that passcode operator lockout feature available. There’s even new tech on the floor via a dual throttle option, allowing contractors to operate at a set rpm with joystick controls and increase the rpm with the foot throttle without needing to adjust the dial.
This all sounds kind of expensive, right?
Well, some of this stuff is optional, of course, so not everything on the MAX-Series is standard. For instance, the MAX-Series offers an optional highly pressurized, all-weather cab, which has an improved seal allowing it to stay quieter and more resistant to outside dust and debris. The 7-in. screen, side lighting and dual throttle control are similar options, but there are a ton of premium standard features that come with no extra charge.
“There’s a penalty when using the word premium. People automatically associate that with cost,” said Storlie. “One of the design criteria I’ll point out with the MAX-Series was to be cost neutral for us. So, we brought these products forward without price increases. That’s a big deal to have this level of features and be able to, you know, be cost neutral. We do have different package configurations from the premium packages, which would have all the bells and whistles. You know: the 7-in. displays and the foot throttles and all those things, but we also have base packages. In our base package, you might get a smaller display, but you still get those advantages of the premium visibility. You still get that roof hatch exit. You still get all these features, just maybe not all the bells and whistles.”
The Roof Hatch
Here’s a new one, folks. In addition to that crazy cab, ASV’s MAX-Series will sport the industry’s first compact loader roof escape hatch, allowing operators to get out quickly in emergency situations. Other skid steers and track loaders provide a rear window or front door emergency exit.
“With this roof hatch, we are able to go in and out in seconds in both directions,” said Storlie. “It’s also available in level 2 falling object protection. So previously, you know, only our RT-120 Forestry had level 2 capability. Now, all of the Max-Series and the RT-120 Forestry have level 2 capability. We can option that out depending on which roof hatch our customers choose.”
The new standard cab platform also brings the ability to add heavy-duty guarding to other MAX-Series machines. Previously the option was only available on the RT-75 Heavy-Duty and RT-120 Forestry. The configuration includes metal guarding against brush and debris around key areas, such as lights, the AC condenser and rear screen. Operators can also choose to include a factory-installed full rear brush guard. All units will have new wiring harnesses and fuse panels that are fully sealed, watertight and are installed with a design that further protects the electronics.
All Those Other Features We Take for Granted
Clearly, the new MAX-Series cab is an innovative new addition to the small loader space, but these four models also come with all those technologies that make skid steers and track loaders great machines in general. The MAX-Series includes all the trademark ASV performance features — like its Posi-Track track system — allowing for a smoother ride over every type of terrain. Posi-Track loaders maximize ground contact, virtually eliminating track derailment and facilitating maximum performance on steep slopes. The high number of contact points and wide tracks also provide super low ground pressures. In addition, all models have impressive ground clearance, allowing the machines to work in more places and in more applications.
ASV Posi-Track loaders feature leading hydraulic and cooling efficiencies. Drive motors transfer torque to the patented internal-drive sprockets and internal rollers reduce friction loss in the undercarriage, allowing for maximum performance. In addition, all machines include large line sizes, hydraulic coolers and direct-drive pumps — rather than belt-driven pumps — transferring more flow and pressure directly to the attachment and preventing power loss. ASV noted its advanced cooling system helps contractors operate MAX-Series machines at 100 percent load, 100 percent of the time in ambient temperatures up to 118 F.
Also, these MAX-Series loaders are backed with ASV’s new two-year/2,000-hour warranty. The warranty covers tracks for the entire period and includes the industry’s first and only no-derailment guarantee. It all sounds like a great product, right, but who’s going to buy it?
“Who’s our customer? Who are we going after?” asked Storlie. “We think everyone. The bottom line is there is no one who doesn’t want better visibility or more operator comfort, from the owner to the operator to the guy paying the bills. If you give them comfort and visibility, their operators are safer. Their operators are happier. You retain your operators longer, you know, like as in not leaving to go work for the guy next door. So, the benefits put in the MAX-Series benefit all of those groups — the owner, the business owner, the operator, the renter, so on and so forth.”