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Latest developments in construction machines

First publishedin World Highways
October 2011
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Hidromek backhoe loader
extensive pre-delivery inspections are carried out to ensure that machines Hidromek sends to dealers are fault-free.

High performance backhoe loaders from Hidromek can compete with leading brands on performance - Mike Woof reports

Turkish manufacturer Hidromek is looking to take a larger slice of the international market with its newly upgraded backhoe loader models. The firm currently sells machines in 50 countries worldwide and intends to boost its market profile. Marketing manager Levent Karaa aç said, "We will be a global brand." This family owned firm has come a long way since it was founded in 1978, manufacturing a backhoe attachment for a tractor.

The company built its first proper backhoe loader in 1987, its first four wheel steer backhoe loader in 1991 and began exporting in 1999.

This type of machine remains the centre of Hidromek's broadened range, which now includes both wheeled excavators and crawler excavators as well as some specialist models such as long reach excavators.

During this year Hidromek has already introduced its compact backhoe loader and is now further expanding its offering being built at the Izmir plant with the launch of the top-of-the-line Maestro model. This machine features equal-sized wheels and all-wheel-steer as well as high quality controls. It is pitched at competing with the successful, high performance units from the likes of Case, Caterpillar, JCB, John Deere, Terex and Volvo as well as various other suppliers.

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Kingpost for backhoe loader
The kingpost for the backhoe loader is cast rather than fabricated and while this increases manufacturing cost Hidromek points out that it offers increased strength and working life
The new Maestro model benefits from ZF's latest, highly sophisticated transmission system featuring advanced canBUS electronics and a machine control unit with full diagnostics capabilities. Karaa aç said, "This is a breakthrough as it has a complete new powertrain." Power comes from a 4.5litre John Deere HF280 diesel and this drives through a ZF5WG98 transmission, while the machine has a ZF MSB2045 front axle and a ZF MTB3070 rear axle.

Fuel economy and all-round performance is said to be good and Hidromek has had a long partnership with John Deere.

Karaa aç said, "It has a nice torque rise, which is very good in the wheeled loader application." At the moment the Maestro machine is fitted with a Tier 3/ Stage IIIA compliant engine but when this output category requires the Tier 4/Stage IIIB compliant diesel, Hidromek says that it will be ready for the market. Hidromek and ZF worked very closely on the development of the new Maestro machine and the engine and transmission have been well matched, with the traction force exceeding the machine weight.

However Hidromek has been careful to ensure that there is no loss of traction in poor conditions and for example, the heavy duty front axle is designed to minimise wheelspin, "...a limited slip differential is fitted as standard," Karaa aç said. He added that the heavy duty rear axle, "...has a very high torque capacity." A key feature of the Maestro backhoe loader is its five speed gearbox, which allows higher driving speeds and boosts utilisation by reducing travel times between sites. At the same time, the five speed drivetrain allows a good spread of ratios and means that the machine has a very good climbing capability on a gradient. The joint development process between Hidromek and ZF ensured that the gear ratios were also optimised for the application.

Karaa aç said, "We did some changes to the transmission, the fifth gear in particular. That was important as it affects productivity." Ground gears in the ZF transmission increase efficiency by as much as 5% according to the firm, helping reduce fuel consumption while increasing working life. The gearbox is electronically controlled, further increasing operating efficiency while also allowing smooth changes between ratios and making servicing and maintenance easier due to the latest diagnostic capabilities.

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backhoe loader ready for shipment
The firm ships machines all over the world with this unit destined for a customer in Chile
Under the partnership agreement between ZF and Hidromek, this sophisticated five speed backhoe loader transmission will be available to the Turkish firm exclusively for a number of years.

Certain features in the driveline were adapted to Hidromek's request, with different seals and an increased number of wheel studs on the axles to maximise durability, and to make these features maintenance-free.

Reliability and maximum uptime have been key development aims of Hidromek with the new backhoe loader and Karaa aç said, "Our target is to have a trouble-free machine. We are predicting a 20,000 hour operating life of the machine." The hydraulic rams on the Hidromek backhoe loaders are all made to a high specification by the firm itself at its facility near Ankara, with high quality friction welding to secure the joints. Robot welding of the chassis and other fabrications ensures continuity of joints and provides solid structures, minimising the risk of cracking.

All the Hidromek units are designed to cope with the enormous temperature gradient seen in Turkey, which ranges from -35°C up to 50°C. This allows the units to work in other countries with similarly diverse climactic conditions, most notably Russia where the firm does have a substantial sales presence.

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