Veolia has trialled and purchased two Caterpillar 950M wheeled loaders with joystick steering at its recycling depot in Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire.
The trials, in partnership with supplier Finning UK, are seen as significant in helping to assess the advantages which joystick steering is considered to offer, including greater manoeuvrability, improved safety and more comfort for loader operators.
Finning UK & Ireland said that the Caterpillar joystick steer brings “lots of benefits to the operator including making the steering of the machine easier and lowering the risk for repetitive strain injuries”.
The dealer, which also serves Ireland, added that the joystick is mounted to the side of the seat, so it swings with the seat when the machine moves, which is “ergonomically better than having a fixed steering wheel. After a day of manoeuvring a Caterpillar with a joystick, operators have reported a reduction in arm fatigue, which is a very significant health and safety benefit.”
And, said Finning UK, “In machines with a joystick, the steering wheel is removed, which gives the operator more visibility. The operator can see other people much better, work more precisely and safely. The feedback the joystick gives to the driver is force and speed sensitive. There is even a switch to select gears and buttons to choose between forward, neutral and reverse.”
“The machine basically goes where you point it”
Robert Oliphant, head of fleet and support services at Veolia, said “The testing of the Cat 950M Wheel loaders with joystick steering was very successful. We have purchased the machines and will continue to use them at the recycling depot in Kirkby-in-Ashfield. We plan to extend the use of joystick steering to more machines in the future, in line with specific site requirements.”
Mr Oliphant added: “The Caterpillar articulates at the same speed as the joystick which gives the operator much greater responsiveness. The joystick is very intuitive and the machine basically goes where you point it.”
He also explained the reason for choosing Kirkby-in-Ashfield for the trials. “The Veolia plant in Kirkby-in-Ashfield has a lower staff turnover than other recycling plants, so this is the perfect environment to test such machines. The site also operates in a confined space, which normally necessitates a lot of wheel turns. With the joystick, the many tiring wheel turns are a thing of the past — now it is all in the wrist.”
Gary Lambert, key account manager for industrial and waste at Finning UK, said he believes that joystick steering will become “as common as seatbelts. If one looks at the development of construction machines, the long-term trend is clearly towards joystick control. Many larger machines already have it as standard. Medium-sized and smaller machines have it currently as optional extra.
“Even the smallest Cat, the next gen mini, has it as an optional extra. The fact that customers in all segments are testing joystick control and finding that the operators like it could herald a steady shift of the entire sector towards joystick steering.”
Source: letsrecycle.com Waste Managment