Posted February 10, 2023

Equipment Insight – Compact track loaders

Sit-down and stand-up models gain in power, responsiveness and versatility.

New Holland compact track loader

When contemplating adding more compact track loaders to the rental fleet, consider whether a radial or vertical lift machine will better meet your customers’ needs.

John Deere compact track loader

High-quality machines and proper routine maintenance will help to limit maintenance downtime, ensuring the job site is always running on schedule.

Cat track loader with Smart attachment

All Cat D3 Series compact track loaders have Cat Smart Technology that ushers in the highest level of integration between the machine and the line of Smart Attachments.

Toro stand on track loader
Because compact utility loaders are so versatile and offer multiple attachments, they function as a real workhorse for rental customers looking to get the most bang for their buck.
Mike Fitzgerald, Bobcat Co.

Marketing Manager
Bobcat Company

Compact track loaders (CTL) have always been powerhouses of the job site, but OEMs are adding features to make these machines even more powerful and versatile than ever before. Customers value features that help maximize their productivity on the job site and are easy to use, which is particularly important for rental customers.

Bobcat recently launched its most powerful loaders yet with the T86 compact track loader and S86 skid-steer loader, delivering more usable engine and hydraulic horsepower. Setting the T86 apart is Bobcat’s exclusive Premium Power Performance, a power management system that distributes power more efficiently on loaders equipped with high-flow and super-flow hydraulics.

The T86 also offers more attachment versatility and productivitywith its optional super-flow hydraulics. Itis the first loader of its kind to offer three hydraulic flow options:

• Standard Flow (23.0 gpm, 3,500 psi) Standard on the T86; it operates attachments that require lower hydraulic horsepower.

• High Flow (36.6 gpm, 3,500 psi) This optional system provides additional hydraulic power to boost production of attachments such as a flail cutter, trencher, planer and stump grinder.

• Super Flow (42 gpm, 4,061 psi) With optional super flow, users can tackle the most demanding attachment applications, including pavement milling and clearing land of trees and brush.

The T86 features a larger, higher capacity radiator and a cooling fan that is about twice the size of traditional fans. The fan achieves more cooling at a slower rotation and is more energy efficient. It also has a higher capacity radiator, larger auxiliary hydraulic hoses and lines and reversing fan. It comes standard with an enclosed cab, dual-direction bucket positioning and the Power Bob-Tach system.

When considering new models in your fleet, first consider your customer base and their job site needs. If most of your customers are working in urban spaces with size restrictions, smaller compact track loaders can increase utilization.

Understand the types of jobs customers are renting the machines to support. Consider getting a unit with various auxiliary hydraulic-flow options, like the T86 compact track loader with super flow, to power more demanding attachment needs.

Rental centers can maximize their machine versatility and ROI by offering a variety of attachments to transform a compact track loader into a do-it-all machine to tackle job site demands. After buckets and pallet forks, other high-demand attachments for rental consideration are augers, grapples, brooms, trenchers and breakers.

To get the greatest ROI from any compact track loader, stay on top of service and maintenance to extend the equipment’s longevity. Make the investment for comfort and productivity features. It helps position your company as the go-to resource for compact track loader rentals. Consider features such as heated and cooled cabs, two-speed travel and superior undercarriage technology with suspension.

Offer a wide variety of attachments to rent with the CTLs. Know your product and customer by keeping detailed records of your rental inventory, including customer history, telematics information, service and maintenance history and/or any known customer feedback regarding the equipment.

Keep your equipment clean. A fleet in good condition is more likely to be treated well by your customers and employees, reducing repairs and maintenance expenses as well as boosting your company reputation. Clean equipment also helps identify any maintenance needs sooner, which if addressed quickly, minimizes downtime.

Finally, know when it’s time to upgrade your fleet to offer your customers more versatility and performance as new models continue to evolve and improve.

Jeff Jacobsmeyer, Case CE

Product Manager
Case Construction Equipment

A general perception has always existed around rental equipment, that simpler is better. That doesn’t mean, however, that equipment for rental businesses needs to have fewer features. Manufacturers are finding ways to build in more advanced technology that delivers improved performance and does so intuitively. Features like electro-hydraulic controls are now easier to use and more intuitive than before, helping each operator work a machine how they like based on their preferences and skill levels.

Similarly, it’s easier than ever with features like Hydraulics on Demand to properly dial in attachment performance that is critical for rental operations with a strong rotation of attachments. It makes it easier for an operator to dial in hydraulics performance to each attachment’s optimal performance parameters.

Overall, the operator interface in modern compact track loaders is more intuitive with a more automotive style and feel. This helps operators who may not be as familiar with each make and model get comfortable in the machine; a comfortable and confident operator is a more productive operator.

Features that help simplify performance are also the types of features that make customers repeat customers. If they enjoy the experience with a machine, they will return for more.

It’s always important to understand the types of customers and businesses that will regularly rent from you, and how that translates to the optimal type and style of compact track loader(s) you have in your fleet. In highly populated areas with contractors that work on more large-scale developments, then more large-frame units with higher operating capacities and auxiliary hydraulics may be preferred. If you’re in an area that’s more rural with landscaping and more light-duty type of construction work, then lower-horsepower machines or units with fewer bells and whistles may be in demand.

Keep in mind transportation options. What can your truck fleet handle or what do most of your customers have for transportation options? If the bulk of your client base is weekend warriors or light-duty contractors, then it’s best to focus on smaller, easier to transport units. This is less of a concern in larger markets with larger contractors, as most will be able to haul all sizes of compact track loaders with ease.

Environment is important. If you’re in northern states, an enclosed cab will be important because that will help ensure operator comfort even in colder temperatures and opens that machine up to be a rental asset in snow removal operations.

Telematics, which is optional on Case B Series compact track loaders and standard on the TV620B model, is an excellent tool for rental businesses as it allows rental centers to monitor the performance, use and location of the machine. This helps managers keep ahead of service schedules with a real-time view into machine hours; it helps alert the owner if something is going wrong with it so it can be proactively addressed before it turns into downtime; and it helps precisely locate equipment when it’s time to pull it back off rent.

Profitability goes up with utilization. Utilization goes up with the more things that single asset can do and the more often it is out on rent. An asset that is out on rent 80 percent of the time is going to have a greater ROI over its life than a machine that only goes out on rent 50 percent of the time.

One of the best ways to do this is through attachments. Outfitting a compact track loader with an auxiliary hydraulics package that can run a broad array of attachments makes it suitable for dozens of other tasks besides just being a loader. The more a machine can do, the more your clients will want to rent it. Hydraulics and attachments make that a reality.

Kevin Coleman, Caterpillar

Product Specialist

Customers are looking for equipment that offers features to help make operation easier and more productive while helping turn a novice operator into a skilled operator. These features can aid customers in saving time and/or making more money by automating repetitive tasks like grading, digging and loading. While still reasonably new in the marketplace, these types of labor-saving features have been available on all Cat skid steer loader and compact track loader models since 2013 in the form of Dual Direction Self-Leveling, the Return-to-Dig and the Work Tool Positioning features.

The Dual Direction Self-Leveling system ensures optimum material retention and load control when truck-loading material or handling palletized products; Return-to-Dig allows the operator to fully lower the loader and return the bucket or attachment to a pre-selected angle with the touch of a button; and the Work Tool Positioner allows the operator to set the working angle/tilt position of any attachment, achieving better control and finish quality. 

All Cat D3 Series compact track loaders have Cat Smart Technology that ushers in the highest level of integration between the machine and the line of Cat Smart Attachments. This technology allows the machine to recognize when one of the Smart Attachments is connected and tailor the controls and operator information to match the tool and the task. The family of Smart Attachments include a backhoe, grader with assist and dozer with assist.

For Cat compact track loaders operating Cat Cold Planer or Wheel Saw attachments, Cat Smart Creep matches the machine speed to cutting conditions. By continually sensing the attachment load, Smart Creep increases machine speed when encountering less resistance and slows the machine under higher load.

Selecting the correct machine size, type and how to equip them can be challenging. Should the unit(s) be a small, medium, or large frame? Standard auxiliary flow or high flow? Enclosed cab or open canopy? Each decision will influence the return on investment (ROI) via the acquisition cost, maintenance costs, rental rates and the attachments that can be rented with the machines.

Today’s machines are being rented with a growing variety of attachments. In some locations, the focus is on small- to mid-size models. The mid-sized models are popular with rental customers due to the high performance delivered in relatively compact chassis size. This size is also easy to transport and can nimbly maneuver on tight job sites. Their performance allows them to be paired with many attachments. This versatility allows for excellent asset utilization and potentially more revenue for rentals that include multiple attachments.

In some regions, fleet utilization is increased by including larger machines in the fleet for handling larger loads or operating large, high-production hydro-mechanical attachments. Consider all these options before deciding what machine type, size, and features best suit your rental customer’s needs.

To increase demand and ROI with these units, look for maximum versatility for minimum investment. Rental centers and customers are looking for ways to do more with their equipment to maximize their return on investment.

Rental centers are also looking for equipment that’s easy to maintain after rent, easy for the customer to maintain while on rent, and ways the equipment can be used without damage. Machines that provide in-cab monitoring and messaging to communicate when routine maintenance is due are a huge benefit for the customer and the rental center.

Routine maintenance should be quick and simple to do without requiring bolts or panel removal. Other routine maintenance items should be easy to locate and access without requiring components to be removed. Look at the access to check and add fluids. These lead to improved equipment maintenance when on rent and quicker turnaround when the equipment comes off rent.

To help protect the investment, Cat compact track loaders deliver a rear-view camera-viewable image on the in-cab monitor. This provides excellent visibility to objects low to the ground behind the machine. It gives operators more confidence while avoiding items that could be damaged on the job site and/or potentially damage the machine.

Rental centers are also recognizing the value that tracked machines provide vs. a comparable-sized skid steer. Compact track loaders offer higher-rated operating capacity, more stability, lower ground pressure, less ground disturbance and a broad range of application capabilities than a rubber-tired skid steer. Cat compact track loaders are well-suited for a rental situation where it is difficult to control the application, material, maintenance and operating technique of their customers. The durable steel-embedded track and steel undercarriage components offer maximum life for rental centers. They also feature a standard torsion suspension undercarriage which helps extend track life while delivering improved traction, increased operator comfort and better material retention.

Luke Gribble, John Deere

Solutions Marketing Manager
John Deere

One advance that allows operators to get the most out of their compact track loader is hooking up one of the many attachments compatible with the loader. John Deere’s expanding lineup includes more than 100 models, so you’re sure to find the right tool for the job. They’re compatible with many comparable machine brands, and each attachment is backed by the John Deere parts, service and warranty coverage. By quickly adding an attachment, you can watch productivity simultaneously increase.

John Deere’s attachment technology allows operators to switch between attachments easily. For example, with the self-cleaning Quik-Tatch easy-attachment system, you can go from bucket to grapple in no time, significantly increasing productivity.

Additionally, compact track loaders are incorporating telematic software such as JDLink, which remotely connects owners and managers to their fleets. This system allows customers to keep an eye on their machines while away from the job by delivering in-depth tracking information through real-time alerts and reports. If customers have access to the internet, via computer or smartphone, they can receive reports about their equipment and how it’s being used. By providing alerts, JDLink helps customers keep track of their machine’s health and usage, which can maximize uptime and prevent costly service interruptions.

These advances are designed to help customers get the most of their investment with greater performance and increased efficiency.

When rental centers think about bringing new compact track loader models into their rental fleets, they must prioritize time, versatility, and quality. Quality of the machines is very important when renting to companies with tight turnaround times. The machines should have the ability to run for longer periods of time even when faced with harsh conditions. High-quality machines and proper routine maintenance will help  limit maintenance downtime, ensuring the job site is always running on schedule.

Additionally, customers are always looking for ways to increase efficiency and convenience on the job. Machines that offer versatility are an attractive option for any operator. 

Rental centers should consider expanding their lineup to include compact track loaders once they have assessed customers’ needs, job site conditions and the specific tasks needed. For those working on job sites that include soft ground conditions or steep terrain, compact track loaders are an ideal machine solution. Compact track loaders are an enticing option for most operators and rental centers as they are suited for all sorts of weather conditions and can tackle a variety of tough terrains on any given job site.

Rental centers can increase demand for a given machine by making sure it is configured to meet the needs of the market. Model size, transportability, arm length and track type will dictate the demand for the compact track loader. Understanding the requirements of the local customer base and then assembling a rental fleet based on those needs will return the highest yield. Standard rubber tracks, and optional arm and counterweight configurations are the ways John Deere tries to make its compact track loaders appealing to a broad set of users.

Track maintenance is vital to the performance and uptime of any compact track loader. By training operators, inspecting and cleaning tracks and maintaining proper tension, track life can be extended, limiting downtime and reducing operating costs. While these machines are some of the most reliable in the John Deere equipment portfolio, following regular maintenance will help rental centers get ahead of potential downtime issues and major repairs

Jerry Corder, Kubota

Product Manager, Construction Equipment
Kubota Tractor Corp.

Customers are seeking advances and efficiencies across the board for compact track loaders, including increased comfort, operation upgrades for convenience and updated technology inside and outside the machine. Kubota’s newest compact track loader is the SVL75-3 that comes with a new one-piece sealed cab. Inside the cab, there is a new 7-inch touch screen which includes keyless start, integrated Bluetooth and a digital gauge display. A standard wide-angle reversing camera offers a 176-degreee field of view.

The engine bay places the radiator on top of the engine and the fuel tank in the door for unrestricted access to the battery, service filters and fluid fill. Front and rear LED lights are now standard, enhancing visibility in low-light conditions.

The Advanced Auto Downshift from Kubota excavators is standard; it automatically shifts from high to low speed when turning. Kubota’s Advanced Multi-Function Valve enables simultaneous operation of the machine, bucket, and auxiliary hydraulic attachment.

Knowing the market that you are competing in is the most important factor when considering adding units to their fleet. Compact track loaders are most popular with professional contractors, but residential users are outpacing the contractors’ growth rate.

Using telematics is the best way for a rental center to increase ROI. It is a reliable way to track service and maintenance intervals which can increase longevity. It can also alert when a machine throws an error code. Technicians can use the error code to act proactively and rental centers can swap out machines so customers can keep working and reduce downtime

Telematics also can geofence, creating a virtual perimeter in a geographical area. A rental center can create custom perimeters around facilities and can be alerted when machines leave or enter the designated perimeter.

Ryan Anderson, New Holland

Product Marketing Manager

New Holland

Advances with the machine include greater as comfort, ease of operation and performance. New Holland engineers have included an 8-inch LCD multifunction display that allows the operator to use many custom options, including EZ EH control adjustments, backup camera, menus that allows tracking maintenance schedules and shutdown timers.

For operator comfort, engineers have maximized the legroom in cabs by making changes to control arms and overall ergonomics by placing controls and buttons in the operator’s field of view so there are no hidden controls. The cabs come standard with a Bluetooth radio for hands-free calls.

New Holland EH machines come standard with ISO and H-pattern control selections. The EZ EH controllability allows the operator to regulate how the machine behaves. The electrohydraulic controls offer adjustments and enhanced performance through New Holland’s Load Management System that provides additional power to the drive system and won’t allow the machine to stall.

The variety of attachments and applications for compact track loaders grows every year. Popular attachments coming out include new drum-style mulching heads, rotary cutters and precision graders. High-flow auxiliary hydraulic attachments require more hydraulic performance from the machine, so New Holland offers auxiliary hydraulic packages such as Enhanced High Flow for 90 horsepower and above machines.

When contemplating adding more compact track loaders to the rental fleet, consider whether a radial or vertical lift machine will better meet customers’ needs. If a customer is looking for better digging performance, radial lift is going to be more suitable. For primarily loading and material handling, vertical lift offers greater reach of the vertical lift at the top of the lift cycle.

Another point to consider is the customer acceptance of different emissions technology. If customers are not comfortable with having to add diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) to rental machines, consider keeping your rental fleet at 74 horsepower or below.

Rental centers can increase demand or increase ROI with preventive maintenance schedules that can help avoid unexpected parts and service costs.

To increase demand, make sure customers are getting the most out of the versatility of a compact track loader. Having a wide offering of attachments for many applications will increase the usability of a compact track loader.

To take that point further, offering a compact track loader with a mulching attachment may not be enough. Mulchers require a high level of skill and operator knowledge to be safe and effective. To provide a high level of service, it may be best to include a skilled operator with the rental.

To increase demand, having an appropriate level of machines in the fleet and have them on display. It will allow you to serve more customers and make your market aware of your capabilities to meet customer needs.


Product Marketing Manager

Operators report they want three things: versatility, ease of use and reliable power. Toro is constantly working to design new equipment that meets those expectations and make users’ jobs easier.

To that end, standard features in the Dingo line include 360-degree visibility, allowing the operators to be highly aware of their surroundings and easily perform any function. By removing the need to enter and exit a cab, operators have more control of their immediate environment and can quickly step on and off the machine. The controls on Dingo machines are simple to use, which helps reduce the learning curve, ultimately contributing to productivity.

A major trend is battery power. Battery-powered equipment offers contractors more flexibility and easily increases productivity and efficiency. Battery power has opened a whole new door, quite literally, to indoor construction and demolition. The new Toro eDingo 500 is powered by HyperCell, Toro’s Li-ion battery solution, which produces zero engine exhaust emissions. This allows contractors to use their units in areas that used to require manual labor or ventilation systems to protect crews.

Because compact utility loaders are so versatile and can be outfitted with multiple attachments, they function as a real workhorse for rental customers looking to get the most bang for their buck. With the growing popularity of the compact utility loader category, many rental houses are looking to incorporate more units into their fleets, but picking the right models is important.

Consider ease of use. Simple, intuitive controls allow customers to get right to work. Think about the types of jobs your customers most often rent equipment to support. Are they contractors or homeowners operating in tight spaces? Do they need maximum maneuverability with true spin-turn or 4-wheel drive? Are tracks needed? What operating capacity and lift height will be required? Would a ride-on or walk-behind configuration be a better solution? Is there a need for zero emissions? Are there any auxiliary attachment requirements or uses? 

Rental centers should position themselves as the experts when it comes to equipment and best practices. Knowing the possibilities and limitations of equipment is essential. Compact utility loaders offer an instant productivity boost and can take the place of several machines, which means rental customers might be able to simply rent one unit vs. several dedicated machines. Compact utility loaders also have intuitive controls and can be operated by almost anyone, no matter their level of experience, which makes them very appealing to weekend DIYers. Ensuring customers are aware of the flexibility and ease of use of these units can increase demand and ultimately ROI.

Rental houses can quickly build trust with customers by asking the right questions. Listening to the customer and offering advice when appropriate will help match the right equipment with the project and encourage contractors and homeowners to come back for any project they may be undertaking in the future.


This article originally appeared in the March-April 2023 issue of Pro Contractor Rentals magazine. © Urbain Communications LLC. All rights reserved.