9 mins


Construction is working hard to innovate and adapt its wheeled loaders, but what’s next in their evolution? Catrin Jones looks at how manufacturers are getting ahead of the curve

The V7 is the smallest machine in Yanmar’s range

As construction projects continue to evolve in complexity and scale, the demand for equipment that seamlessly integrates power, agility and precision has never been greater. Wheeled loaders are at the forefront of this evolution, defining new standards for productivity and adaptability. Modern construction sites are everchanging and this means so are their needs. Projects require increased technology, enhanced systems and improved productivity.

Philipp Schwartz, product manager of wheeled loaders in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region at Yanmar, asserts that the design and technology of wheeled loaders have evolved in recent years.

“The biggest impact was given by the European Union with the engine emission regulation to reduce nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. This has impacted the design and the required space due to the exhaust aftergas treatments, like the diesel particulate filter. These particulate filters also require space.”

Manufacturers have had to change the design of their equipment to ensure that everything fits into the machine.

“One part that also goes with an engine downgrade is that some manufacturers reduced the engine power to avoid a certain emission level,” says Schwartz.

Things have also changed on the supplier side as hydraulic drive trains have become more efficient over the years, thanks to research and development.

Powertrain technology

Ladislav Junek, product manager of wheeled loaders at Develon Europe, also agrees that engine and powertrain technology have been instrumental in wheeled loaders’ current evolution.

“Engine technology has improved significantly,” says Junek. “This has resulted in better fuel efficiency and not only reduces total cost of ownership but also fits in with the growing emphasis on environmentally friendly design.”

Junek also highlights that Continuously

Variable Transmission (CVT) is becoming more popular and accepted. “CVT can offer better fuel efficiency than conventional powershift transmissions – up to 25%. CVT allows the engine to run at its most efficient speed, improving fuel efficiency and reducing emissions,” he says.

Fernando Cuppone, wheeled loader product management at Case Construction Equipment, says that a continual challenge is how to improve productivity whilst reducing ownership and running costs.

“This may seem contradictory, since the common idea is that to increase productivity we need to increase the power and, consequently, the running costs. That is not always true: accurate design aided by the latest technology can reverse this idea,” reveals Cuppone. While the design and technology of wheeled loaders have changed over the years, upskilling and retaining workers within the industry is also key to their development.

“Users have difficulties recruiting qualified operators and/or training their current workforce. To help them, we are packing our wheel loaders with smart technologies and easy-to-use controls to boost both operator and site operator efficiencies,” comments Thierry Brasseur, senior market professional for medium wheel loaders at Caterpillar. “For example, all our wheeled loaders can now be equipped with our unique steering joystick. Positioned controlled with force feedback, it is easy to use in all applications and significantly reduces operator fatigue over their work shift. ‘Inform’ and ‘Assist’ features help the operator improve their operating technique in different applications.”


The kind of possibilities with low voltage and high voltage within the system are bringing us to different machine concepts. If you have high voltage, you can reduce the parts as well as the cost

Brasseur anticipates that finding methods to address the operator shortage that the construction sector faces, as well as ensure that operators have adequate training, will continue to be vital to the evolution of wheeled loaders.

Improving overall efficiency and reducing operating costs by leveraging digitalisation and new technologies are also changes that will need to be continually prioritised.

Electrifying construction

Electrification remains a key trend across the majority of construction equipment manufacturers, and compact wheeled loaders are one of the most frequently electrified products.

Cat's 962 wheeled loader

Yanmar’s Schwartz believes that it is the biggest trend in the industry and one that all manufacturers have in common. “We saw at Bauma Munich that it was not only wheeled loaders, but it is also electric mini excavators and medium-sized excavators,” he says. “Every manufacturer was launching at least one electric product, even if that product was a prototype.”

More recently, Liebherr launched the L 507 E battery-electric wheeled loader, the company’s first electric wheeled loader.

The machine, which is based on the Liebherr L 507 Stereo wheeled loader, is said to have a running time of up to eight hours depending on operating conditions and offers performance equal to a conventionally powered machine in the same size class, the company said. The battery-electric drive means that full power is available at all times, giving the operator what Liebherr calls “dynamic working movements and responsive handling.”

Meanwhile, low noise emissions and the removal of onsite CO2 emissions make it suitable for inner city areas where exhaust and noise emissions are factors.

The high-voltage battery system has been specially developed for the new model and delivers “powerful performance and efficient charging”, while the modular battery design means a second lithium-ion battery can be installed to increase the run time.

The battery can be fully charged in approximately one and a half to three hours depending on the on-board charging technology and power rating. At the same time, the energy generated downhill and during braking is fed back into the battery through recuperation to increase efficiency.

The new L 507 electric wheeled loader
Fernando Cuppone, wheeled loader product management, Case Construction Equipment


Case Construction Equipment has updated its compact wheel loader line by launching four F-Series Evolution models – the 21F, 121F, 221F and 321F.

The company says that the models feature increased travel speeds and an upgraded operator’s cab.

The cab includes a revised monitor, enhanced electrohydraulic controls with smart features, and a range of connectivity applications that have previously only been included on larger models.

In response to demand, particularly from Scandinavian countries, the two larger models are available with a choice of travel speed ratings. This includes 20kph in standard trim and an option to reach 40kph.

The 21F, powered by a Stage V FPT diesel engine, reaches 43kW (58hp) and 245Nm of torque. This increases to 48kW (64hp) and 261Nm in the 121F, reaching 55kW (74hp) and 316Nm in the 221F and the 321F.

Additionally, the larger models are said to come with new modular axles, available with limited slip or 100% locking differentials for maximum traction in difficult terrain.

It features a maximum tipping load of 3.7 tonnes, while its maximum operating weight of 6.1 tonnes is heavier than the conventional model’s 5.8 tonnes.

Future technology solutions

As manufacturers race to electrify more and more equipment it begs the question; what’s next? For Schwartz, electrification is simply acting as a bridge for further technology and is also dependent on political decisions.

“It is not 100% where the industry will go. I think there is a lot of political discussion on what we will run on in the future. I think the direction will be whatever results out of the political discussion – that is the one we will have to go with.”

He adds that there are a multitude of advancements and innovations on the horizon for wheeled loader technology. “The kind of possibilities with low voltage and high voltage within the system are bringing us to different machine concepts. If you have high voltage, you can reduce the parts as well as the cost. On the other side, you have to have a higher education training level to enable you to work on high voltage.” 

The Develon DL60 wheeled loader

Schwartz adds that, “I also think that hybrid technology is something that the industry is looking at or working on, but that’s more on heavier machines. For my wheeled loader size, for which I am responsible, there is no hybrid solution available, and it is not under investigation.


Bobcat has added to its range of compact wheeled loaders with the launch of the L95. Powered by a 2.4L V2 Bobcat engine, the five-tonne L95 compact wheeled loader is described by the company as a “multi-purpose machine” that is suitable for use in several sectors, including rental, construction and recycling.

Like its smaller predecessors the L85 and L75, the machine has a bucket capacity of 0.8m3 and a bucket range of between 0.6 - 1.5m3 but comes with new additions based on customer feedback.

These include a joystick that is integrated into the suspension seat, improved forwardreverse response time and increased lift and tilt multifunctionality.

For comfort and safety, the cab of the L95 has full FOPS Level II operator protection, a fully adjustable and heated seat, an HVAC system and a two-way adjustable steering column.

Automatic Parking Brake and Slope Assist come as standard, while its intuitive control scheme is said to ensure inexperienced operators can get to work quickly.

For technology, the L95 compact wheel loader is fitted with Bobcat’s Machine IQ telematics system which enables remote monitoring of the performance of the machine. It is also equipped with a redesigned Power Quick-Tach system that is compatible with widely used industry standard couplers. The latest version of the Bob-Tach Adapter for installing approved Bobcat attachments is also included.

“For the time being, connectivity will be the biggest topic because normally the user does not have an exclusively Yanmar fleet. And they need to connect their data management system. Connectivity is, and will, become a big driver for the data exchange.” To address the challenges surrounding data, Schwartz says that Yanmar plans to launch new hardware for their telematic system, called Smart Assist Remote (SAR). This includes both 5G and 4G telecommunications.

Data challenges

Cuppone of Case Construction also believes that the relationship between hardware and software will be a driver for development in the future.

“The widespread use of electronic hardware and related software for the functional management of a wheeled loader is, in reality, a strong enabling factor for future technological development.

“An accurate, and hopefully responsible, use of artificial intelligence could lead the operator to optimise work in certain construction site conditions and/or improve the safety features already present, with the aim of obtaining semi-autonomous driving, in the medium term or, in the long term, even fully autonomous driving.”

There is increasing demand for having fleets under full control, even if they are on different job sites, by receiving real-time reports about productivity, fuel consumption, and correct usage from each of their vehicles.

“The user also aims for peace of mind in terms of maintenance and repair and here connectivity plays an important role. Being able to timely generate alerts on service intervals close to expiration and/or giving the dealer the possibility to perform remote diagnosis in case of equipment’s failure,” says Cuppone.

“Maximising productivity and machine uptime is one of the main targets of every user, and connectivity can help a lot.”

Demands for increased productivity, lower running costs and innovative technology are increasing, and pushing OEMs with their research and development. Times are certainly changing, and it appears that the wheels are well in motion to continue to develop one of construction’s most popular machines. iC

This article appears in November-December 2023

Go to Page View
This article appears in...
November-December 2023
Go to Page View
WHAT HAPPENED? The Association of General Contractors (AGC)
Visit for your daily fix of
Herrenknecht has reported that the contractors working on
Two new towers aimed at attracting tourists to
Argentina has secured finance to develop its infrastructure, but a new President may have different plans. Catrin Jones looks at what the future for construction might hold
With high levels of debt and low investment the economic picture looks problematic, with construction seeing limited or even negative growth, writes Scott Hazelton
Manufacturers in road construction are thinking green when it comes to materials and alternative fuels. The journey to net zero is underway, and the developments in equipment and tech are increasingly advanced, reports Katherine Weir
There aren’t many better placed to ask about the challenges and opportunities facing construction than Caroline Gumble, CEO, CIOB. She talks to Andy Brown about the skills shortage, sustainability and more
Construction is working hard to innovate and adapt its wheeled loaders, but what’s next in their evolution? Catrin Jones looks at how manufacturers are getting ahead of the curve
Well, here we are, at the end of
In case you missed it…
Some of the stories currently online at
The biggest demolition event of the year – in pictures!
The 15th World Demolition Summit and Awards returned to North America in 2023, taking place in Canada for the first time.
Purchase decisions: Redefining ‘return on investment’
D&Ri looks at the latest crushing and screening advancements, and at how purchase decisions are changing.
Time to invest?
A significant rise in the value of the d&ri100 compared to a year ago prompts a number of demolition contractors to capitalise on the sector’s recent growth by investing.
Applying the rule of three to dust suppression
Are we doing enough to tackle fugitive dust?
EDA, committed to recognizing the talent in the demolition industry
As the International Media Partner of the European Demolition Association (EDA), Demolition & Recycling International brings you the latest update, from EDA President Stefano Panseri.
Decommissioning: the end, or the start of a new beginning?
In his last column for D&Ri, Richard Vann, Managing Director at RVA Group, reflects on the importance of learning and sharing knowledge.
Garth Fernandez, Central Valley regional director for the California HighSpeed Rail Authority, tells Neil Gerrard what some of the mostchallenging aspects of the multi-billion-dollar megaproject are, where construction stands, and what work is still to come
There are clear advantages to a connected construction site. CATRIN JONES investigates what such a future could look like, and the barriers preventing the industry from achieving this
Alexander Greschner, Chief Sales Officer, Wacker Neuson, highlights their current – and future – direction to Catrin Jones
Ambitious plans could see the construction of high-speed rail links across the Arabian Peninsula to form the backbone of a multibillion trade corridor designed to link India to Europe, Lucy Barnard reports
With the pandemic and remote tools changing the world forever, Neil Gerrard examines how construction equipment shows are changing to cater for the shifting demands of attendees
PHOTO: BAM Where is it? Antarctica When will
Looking for back issues?
Browse the Archive >

Previous Article Next Article
November-December 2023
Page 24