At first glance, many pieces of equipment look the same, such as Bobcats and skid steers. For some users, these two terms are used interchangeably. When they hire a Bobcat, they also mean a skid steer. But is there really a difference between the two? ESM Resources wants to give the answers to relevant questions about this.
To make the comparison easy, let’s start with the definition first. What is a skid steer exactly? It is a small piece of equipment that is commonly used in construction, specifically digging. Skid steers are preferred in performing a digging task because it is light and easily maneuverable. The arms can be attached to a wide range of tools, making the equipment versatile. A skid steer can be used, not only for construction but also for landscaping.
Characteristics of a Skid Steer
A skid steer differs significantly from other pieces of equipment, such as a dozer and forklifts, for the following distinguishable characteristics:
- Skid steers often have four wheels, which are useful when used in rough terrain.
- If the machine does not have four wheels, it should have two tracks.
- The skid steer’s axles found on each side are synchronized with each other.
- Although the front and back axles are locked in synchronization, they can be operated individually.
- The wheels are fixed and aligned straight. You cannot turn the wheels.
- The only way to turn the machine is to increase the wheel speed on one side. In doing so, the wheels will drag or skid, which is where its name comes from. The machine will then rotate in the other direction.
- Once the correct position is achieved, the operator will return the sides of the wheels to the same speed.
Some skid steers have hydraulics, which allows them to deliver more power. The higher the power, the more helpful the machine is when performing jobs. For example, a skid steer can be used for lifting objects. A powerful hydraulic skid steer can lift heavier loads than a standard machine.
It’s All About the Brand Name
What is a Bobcat? Bobcat is actually a brand name. It is a manufacturer of skid steers, as well as other compact equipment like track loaders and compact excavators. The company has been around for more than 60 years and has become one of the most trusted names in compact machines around the world.
So, is there a functional difference between a Bobcat and a skid steer? There is none. A skid steer is a machine itself, and the Bobcat is the brand.
Bobcats are frequently referred to as a skid loader, which is the other name for a skid steer. A Bobcat skid loader or steer has the same operation and qualities mentioned above. This machine is often utilised for excavating.
Other popular skid steer brands include:
- CASE Construction
Bobcat skid steer is needed to take advantage of its ability to pull and push materials. This heavy equipment is also used for lifting objects. Compared to other machines, such as a tractor front loader, a skid steer is much lighter. Therefore, it is easier to operate.
Skid steers come in various sizes and capacities. The higher the load capacity, the bigger the size. It’s possible to find a skid steer with a load capacity of 363 kg (800 lbs) to more than 1814 kg (two tons).
Where to Use a Bobcat Skid Steer
The hallmark attribute of Bobcat skid steers is the availability of attachment options. Bobcat skid steers or any skid loaders out there are known for their versatility. They are used mainly for their excavating abilities, but they can also perform other jobs. It is why they are mostly found in the following worksites:
- Farms: Farmers typically have to move heavy items from one place to another. Usually, the travel distance between these two areas is reasonably long. Therefore, they need the right machine to deliver materials efficiently and quickly. A skid steer is a good option. But more importantly, farms may require excavation of land. In such a case, this piece of equipment can help. Farmers can use and operate the machine on their own without needing to hire an operator.
- Ranches: If you own a ranch, you know how difficult it is to haul feed and other heavy objects from your trailer. It is not a job you look forward to doing, but it is something you need to accomplish almost daily. You may also need assistance in unloading feed trucks. In these cases, you can hire a skid steer and attach it with the right accessories. Instead of going for a forklift or anything with an arm, you can use a skid steer to lift certain items. Another great benefit is that skid steers also have attachments that allow you to drill post holes, which is useful when you have to instal fences. You will also find an accessory that will enable you to grade the dirt roads leading to your ranch. This way, you can easily be reachable by other trucks and vehicles.
- Construction & Mine Sites: When building, a skid steer is one of the preferred machines to use. It can be outfitted with the correct attachment, such as a cement mixer. It makes the entire construction job more manageable, especially because the skid steer is easy to operate.
Available Attachments for a Skid Loader
Skid steers or loaders can work excellently no matter what capacity required. Several attachment options can be used to turn this machine into the versatile equipment needed for projects. Using the attachments makes it easy for people, their budget, and job. You do not have to hire plenty of machines to do different things, such as digging, excavating, or lifting. Your skid steer can do all these tasks – provided that you know the attachment to use.
What are the top accessories that you can attach to a skid steer? Here is the list:
Useful for: trenching and digging
Augers are among the most popular of all skid steer attachments. They do not just simplify digging tasks, but they also make sure the holes are precise. An auger is recognizable for its corkscrew shape, which burrows its way into the ground. But the best part is that it maintains the integrity of the soil around it.
Useful for: digging utility trenches, basements, and drainage ditches and demolition
A backhoe lets you excavate a trench. It is usually available with a bucket and cast teeth. They are heavy-duty and with a large capacity, allowing you to dig through packed soil. A digging cylinder is connected to the bucket, which enables you to move the dirt or soil into the bucket.
Aside from digging and trenching, a backhoe attachment is also useful in concrete demolition. When used outdoors, it is best for maintaining slopes and embankments, which is a common task in landscaping.
3. Bale Spear
Useful for: farmers and ranchers
A bale spear attachment is suitable for lifting and moving hay bales. Some accessories are designed for square bales only, but others allow you to handle both round and square hay bales. You can also add another extension with a bale spear to stack hay for storage easily.
Useful for: cleaning and clearing the ground
Also known as the sweeper attachment, which has steel bristles or sometimes heavy-duty poly bristles. It is even more useful if you have a sweeper bucket attached to it. Your job becomes easier because you do not have to scoop up the piles you have left behind.
Useful for: removing plant and weed overgrowth
If your construction site is full of weeds and plants, it may take a lot of time to get rid of them. You can use a mulcher attachment to get rid of them fast. Right after the mulcher, you can use a brush chipper, which is another accessory for your skid steer. What it does is it chops the plant overgrowth into tiny pieces.
Other attachments that you may not know about are saws (used for cutting asphalt patches and expansion joints, as well as utility trenching), snow blower (used for snow removal), and pallet fork (used for lifting and stacking different products).
Should You Buy or Rent a Bobcat Skid Steer?
Buying is often a good investment. However, in the case of construction equipment, it may be better to rent. You may not always have projects that require a Bobcat skid loader. Also, ownership incurs certain costs on its own. You will need to take care of the machine, which can be demanding in terms of upkeep. In a construction project or another job, you may need to purchase various accessories.
By contrast, renting is less of a hassle. If Bobcat skid steer usage is not frequent, it makes more financial sense to hire the equipment. Plus, you can avoid all the headaches involved in the maintenance and even buying different attachments that you probably will use once.
Source: ESM Resources