It was here that we were able to get up close and personal with these new machines for the first time. Our host, Joe, offered to make us a hot drink using the integrated hot drinks machine that has been complimentarily fitted to the first 100 machines off the production line. The drinks machine is available as an optional extra on all other backhoe loaders in the Eco range.
This reminded me of the time way back in the late 60's when my father took delivery of a new JCB 3C from the local Southampton dealership, at the time F. English, who presented him with an in cab 12 volt kettle which at the time was a groundbreaking development in terms of operator comfort!
JCB claim this new machine is more efficient than ever before and highlights one of the most significant innovations as EcoDig, a three pump hydraulic system that allows excavating at lower engine speeds for up to 15% fuel economy and reduced engine carbon emissions.
The EcoRoad technology further reduces fuel consumption. Using JCB's patented TorqueLock system the machine delivers up to 25% better roading efficiency along with up to 10% greater speed and 20% working area.
EcoLoad features a hydraulic speed control switch, which combined with the high torque at low engine speed from the DieselMax engine, gives more tractive effort, faster cycle times, excellent pushing power and hill climbing performance.
The company claim that as a result of all these innovations the new backhoe loaders will deliver an average fuel saving of up to 16%
So it was time to try out the new 4CX machine myself. Time was sadly limited and I was in a bit of a controlled environment so I did not really get a chance to put it through its paces, this is always difficult when there is someone in the cab with you.
I did however get a short spell at the controls of the backhoe. This machine was fitted with the Advanced Easy Control system and features the seat mounted servo control levers, these levers can be used whilst the seat is turned to the side so the operator has a good view at all times.
The right hand lever also operates the front bucket and all the six in one functions when the seat is turned to the front.
Not being a big fan of operating backhoe loaders, I found this machine to be fairly easy to handle with its controls set to the ISO pattern that most of us 360 degree excavator operators are more used to. The machine's engine speed was set within the green eco range on the rev counter, but being a bit "old school", I personally felt I would of been happier with a bit more engine speed.
Visibility to the rear and out to the side was excellent, and the large one piece rear screen with its innovative scoop design gave a great view down into the trench.
The fully adjustable and heated seat was very comfortable during my time at the controls and I was told that a cab pre-heating option is also available that will warm the cab without the engine running which is essential in many of the Scandinavian sales regions.
During a product walk around, Joe explained the benefits of some of the additional features, for example the front buckets on these machines can be dropped off using a quick coupling, leaving the forks on the top bar which can then be flipped over.
This enables the operator to have a much better view of the load he is moving and of course with no bucket weight the lift capacity is greatly improved.
Another feature is the JCB hose reel which offers an independent hydraulic supply for hand operated tools. This reel gives the accompanying operatives a 9 metre working radius around the machine. The hand held tools and the excavator can both work together enabling two men with breakers to go ahead of the machine cutting tarmac for street works for example.}
I recall this concept being offered on JCB 3C's back in the 1970's so it's good to see the idea making a comeback.
There is certainly a lot of buzz on the sites and on machinery forums about this latest reincarnation of the ever popular 3CX and 4CX, it will be very interesting to see how they are received in the industry.
The Digger blog would like to thank our host's for the day Andy Henderson, Nigel Chell, and everyone else we met at JCB who made our visit such an enjoyable experience.