Worksite utility vehicles have transformed in recent years, in a very literal sense, and that is due to the expanding nature of the applications they are being used in. Nowadays it is common for a contractor to make a utility vehicle purchase based on the attachments it can be outfitted with. Municipalities are specifically looking for snow blowers and blades to clear sidewalks, facility managers are looking for sprayers and contractors are seeking rotary brooms to help maintain their worksites. These fleet managers walk into a dealership looking for these specific attachments first, and the utility vehicle they are operating become a secondary qualifier.
As a result of the growing attachment market, utility vehicles have become a more sustainable solution on the jobsite, ready to work day in, day out in all types of conditions. As a manufacturer, Kubota engineers utility vehicles that are taking the place of trucks, tractors and other more expensive units and bringing to market a wide range of true utility functionality. This is a substantial and very exciting shift in the utility vehicle marketplace.
Before we can talk about the attachments themselves, it is important to acknowledge their power source. Adding a front-mounted PTO has enabled the attachment market to grow and has increased the overall value of the utility vehicle category. A utility vehicle with the power to engage front implements transforms it into a multipurpose tool that exponentially increases the operator’s capabilities. For contractors looking to do substantial work, be sure that the front PTO is gear-box driven for durability, better performance, less maintenance and quieter operation. A front PTO, like all controls on a utility vehicle, should be easy to operate and ergonomically comfortable — intuitive even — similar to tractor functionality.
Heavy-Duty Drive System
When you equip a utility vehicle with powered attachments, you are putting more strain on the unit itself, so it becomes essential that the utility vehicle is engineered to not only handle the extra stress but also sustain the long use and wear and tear of implement work. A hydrostatic transmission, fully hydraulic steering and enclosed wet disc brakes are all critical. They work together and, frankly, I wouldn’t recommend running attachments without them. Many jobs that need attachment work also require a lot of stop and go, and a unit equipped with hydrostatic transmission combined with enclosed wet-disc brakes is designed specifically for this type of work. Overall, the right drive system will allow for smooth operation, fewer breakdowns and a reduced cost of ownership over time.
In addition to a gear-box driven PTO and heavy-duty drive system, contractors should also consider a quick-attach system, which allows operators to switch from one implement to another in a matter of seconds, further increasing productivity and minimizing downtime.
It is the tail end of snow season in much of the United States, so let’s use snow management as an example. Personally, I grew up in the snowbelt — where tractors, skid steers and trucks have traditionally been used to clear sidewalks and parking lot areas. Today, that job is increasingly being done with utility vehicles outfitted with cabs, blowers and blades instead. When a utility vehicle is outfitted with a cab, blower and blade, it essentially takes the place of a tractor or truck but at a much lower price point and cost of ownership, especially when you factor in fuel, insurance, licensing, etc.
Many contractors, municipalities and facility groundskeepers are migrating to utility vehicles for snow management, and it is our job as manufacturers to ensure that it is an even trade in terms of durability and reliability. When it comes to snow management, there are many options to consider, including:
- Snow blowers — A good, standard snow blower should include a hydraulic chute rotation and a reversible cutting edge. When comparing units on the market, check out how far the snow is thrown from the machine with precision.
- Straight blade — A straight blade is a very popular attachment. The No. 1 consideration should be width. A 78-in.-wide blade will offer professional performance. Check to be sure that the blade has the capacity to operate in float or down pressure for superior performance.
- V-plow — A V-plow is another attachment designed for heavy-duty snow applications. Again, check to be sure the width is at least 78 in.
- Rotary broom sweeper — A broom sweeper is usually PTO-driven, and we suggest an implement that’s at least 66 in. wide. With a heavy load of water brushes that turn at least 240 rpm, many broom sweepers are designed for even wear of the bristles and offer floating wheel placement to follow ground contour and avoid obstructions.
Aside from snow management, other popular attachments being used across jobsites are rotary brooms and sprayer tanks. A rotary broom is an ideal tool for jobsite cleanup within the construction industry and has also been used effectively during after-storm cleanup efforts. Sprayer tanks are another popular attachment that can be added to the rear of a utility vehicle for landscaping and grounds keeping applications. These are operated through the unit’s electrical system.
The Future of Attachments
It is becoming clear that expanded versatility is just the beginning for the utility vehicle attachment market. Our engineering and product development teams have exciting attachment advancements and new accessories on the horizon. Needless to say, this is an ever-growing and changing segment, and one I’m personally very excited about.
Cool Tool of the Month: Wood-Mizer FS350 Skid Steer Log Splitter
Wood-Mizer’s FS350 skid steer log splitter is engineered for farming and ranching operations that already have a skid steer loader or front loader. By connecting two hydraulic hoses, the FS350SS is powered by the skid steer’s existing power plant which lowers the initial cost of investment. Built in the USA, the FS350SS log splitter expands the Wood-Mizer firewood processing equipment range that already includes three trailer-mounted log splitters. By combining the standard bi-directional push block with 29 tons of splitting force, the FS350SS splits hardwoods up to two cords per hour from logs up to 24 in. long. The ergonomically designed deck level is higher to provide a comfortable working height for the operator. For more info, visit woodmizer.com/logsplitters.