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Inspecting JCB’s new Ecomax engine fitted excavators

JCB’s new excavators feature all new Ecomax engines as well as a range of new safety features and are easier to maintain.

During celebrations to mark JCB’s 500,000th backhoe loader (see box), Construction News took time out to inspect one of the company’s first Stage 3B excavators fitted with its Ecomax diesel engine.

The JS115, 130 and 145 excavators are fitted with the Stage 3B version of JCB’s Ecomax diesel engine, which complies with emissions regulations without the need for a diesel particulate filter or selective catalytic reduction.

Lower rear deck means simpler maintenance

So far these 12-tonne, 13-tonne and 15-tonne machines are the only tracked excavators to meet Stage 3B without a DPF or SCR and have a lower rear deck than the competition.

This means maintenance is simpler and the operator gets a better rear view – although a rear-facing camera is an option. The newcomers also have more power than their predecessors, up from 73 kW to 81 kW, and JCB says they are 5 to 10 per cent more fuel efficient.

CN viewed a pre-production JS145, which comes with new safety features, a revised dash layout, a new monitor, a more comfortable seat and lower noise levels both inside and outside the cab.

Customers guide new safety features

In developing its latest JS excavator range, JCB incorporated several customer-led safety features. These include a two-stage hydraulic interlock system to prevent unintended machine movements and a ‘boxing ring’ with kick guards to improve safety for those working on top of the machine.

JCB excavator specialist Sam Wagstaff says: “Users identified a need for an additional interlock and we worked with then to devise a system that provided the extra safety while being quick and simple for the operator.”

The new ‘2 Go’ system has an interlock button on the instrument panel to the operator’s right, as well as the traditional hydraulic isolation lever to the left of the seat.

“Users identified a need for an additional interlock and we worked with then to devise a system that provided the extra safety while being quick and simple for the operator”

Sam Wagstaff, JCB

After pushing the normal interlock lever down, the operator has to press the illuminated 2 Go button on the instrument panel before the hydraulic functions will operate.Each time the lever is raised and lowered, the button has to be pressed to re-activate the hydraulics.

A sticker on the cab indicates the machine is fitted with the 2 Go system and by positioning the interlock button on the far side of the cab it can only be activated by a seated operator. This prevents the possibility of somebody leaning through the cab door, pushing the standard interlock bar down (deliberately or otherwise) and causing the machine to move.

“People can do unexpected things and site managers, employers and contractors want to ensure that dangerous situations cannot occur on their sites,” Mr Wagstaff says. “This solution prevents any involuntary movements with minimal inconvenient for the operator.”

Fall from height protection

Machine owners also wanted fall-from -height protection for those needing to work on top of the machine’s upper structure (daily checks are carried out from inside the cab or at ground level).

To achieve this, JCB has fitted the boxing ring barrier and fitted kick guards to protect nearby workers from potential injuries from falling tools dislodged by the technician on top of the machine.

Inside the cab the noise level is now down to around 70 dB(A) and JCB has moved away from a touch-screen display to one with a large knob and four buttons. This provides more information, such as instantaneous fuel consumption, and the selected mode is now displayed as a bar chart indicating increasing power levels.

To engage the most powerful (H+) mode, the operator has to select the H mode with the knob and then press a button at the base of the right-hand joystick. When the ignition is turned off for more than 90 minutes, the machine automatically reverts to the eco mode.

Backhoe production hits milestone

Almost six decades after production first started in Rocester, JCB has built its 500,000th backhoe loader, a high-powered 5CX version recently introduced for the Russian and eastern European markets that is destined for a Russian customer.

JCB now produces backhoes in India, Brazil and America as well as the UK, and in 2011 the manufacturer built 40,000 units.

According to the company, the backhoe remains the fourth most popular item of construction equipment worldwide and it says that despite competition from 36 other manufacturers, one machine in two is a JCB.

Chairman Sir Anthony Bamford said its backhoe was one of the most successful products produced in Britain and committed to continue that way. While the company also builds machines in other countries, Sir Anthony says: “Our base is here and our headquarters are here.”

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