JCB today unveils a number of key improvements to its backhoe loader range as the company brings new levels of productivity and efficiency to a machine recognised across the world for its legendary versatility.

The JCB backhoe loader is celebrating 70 years in production, and the product continues to be one of the most popular machines in the construction industry. Bringing together the capabilities of a loading shovel, a forklift, an excavator and a tool carrier in a single versatile machine, the backhoe loader remains the ultimate master of all trades for many plant businesses.

With upgrades for 2024 across the range, operators of the 3CX, 4CX and 5CX now benefit from a host of improvements to make the operator’s life easier and more productive.

Key new developments are:

  • The launch of Dual Drive allowing machine repositioning without rotating the driver’s seat
  • Single loader lever to reduce operator effort
  • Revised direction control for quicker and easier use
  • Return to grade function for improved performance
  • Laser level mount for simple 2D installation
  • Upgraded quickhitch with wider fork carriage

Group Product and Innovation Director Richard Brooks said: “These upgrades and improvements maintain JCB’s position as the world’s leading backhoe loader manufacturer.  By making life easier for the operator, with increased comfort and control, JCB has ensured that the 3CX, 4CX and 5CX remain the first choice for operators.”

Operator Control – launch of Dual Drive

JCB is taking the driving experience to a new level with the introduction of Dual Drive. Available as standard on 3CX Pro and 4CX Pro machines with servo controls, Dual Drive allows the operator to reposition the machine while facing the excavator, without having to turn the seat to the front-facing position.

This is particularly useful when ditch cleaning, grading, breaking or patch planning, as the operator can simply drive the machine along the job site while looking at the work area.

A roller switch on the left-hand servo lever controls the steering, while the right-hand lever has a forward-reverse selection switch. The two pedals in front of the operator are used to control the throttle and the brake system. A 7” monitor, positioned at the rear of the machine next to the side console, provides a wide-angle view to the front of the machine, while facing to the rear thanks to a bird’s eye camera positioned on top of the cab.

Richard Brooks said: “We have studied how operators work and concluded that the single ease of use and productivity improvement would be the ability to drive the machine in both directions while operating the excavator.

“This unique feature sets us further apart from the competition and reinforces our commitment to have the easiest and most comfortable backhoe to operate.”

A JCB backhoe loader can excavate up to 190-tonnes per hour, loading and excavating with Dual Drive is an absolute game changer for operator ease of use, which is why we have standardised this functionality on premium models.

Using experience from the wheeled loader market, JCB has also adopted a single lever 6-in-1 loader control lever as standard on all manual control machines, allowing operators to control the loader and transmission with one hand and the steering with the other, without the need to use the column shift. A proportional switch on the side of the lever operates the 6-in-1 clamshell function. With a large capacity shovel, autoshift transmission and return-to-dig function, it is possible to load a truck in as little as 5 mins.

A switch is incorporated into the loader lever for transmission directional control, in addition to the standard column shift control. As in JCB’s Loadall telescopic handlers, the column switch maintains priority over the loader lever switch.

To simplify angle setting of the 6-in-1 shovel for grading work, JCB has introduced a Return to Grade function on all servo control machines. With activation through a switch on the side console, the operator simply opens the clam shovel, before moving the loader lever to the right. The system automatically stops the shovel rotation when it reaches the optimum angle for grading.

With widespread adoption of laser levelling systems across the industry, JCB has added a 2D laser receiver mount to the front loader torsion box. A mounting pole can be installed and extended to suit various types and sizes of receiver. This allows the operator to set grade depth and to grade more accurately while reducing time taken and fuel used. A 2D laser can increase grading accuracy to within 10mm, offering the operator up to a 25% time saving over standard manual grade control. The 4CX can level and grade 50-tonnes of stone 63% faster, using 73% less fuel, than a 13-tonne excavator.

JCB’s integrated quickhitch with forks, which allow the shovel to be removed for dedicated fork use with a 2,000kg lifting capacity, has been upgraded with a 220mm wider fork carrier, to improve stability of wider loads. The forks now sit outside of the carrier frame, making it easier to reach the forks and to stow after use. Hydraulic couplings are also repositioned for easier access, to reduce changeover time. Rubber mounts have been introduced to reduce noise between the forks and the frame, while the wiring harness and hoses are repositioned for improved protection.

A twin camera and screen option is now offered with the integrated forks, for improved visibility when rehandling materials. An anti-misting camera has been integrated into the quickhitch frame, providing improved visibility of the forks and the load, especially at ground level. A second camera, mounted in the roof, allows the operator to see the quickhitch bar, making it easier to change attachments, while a 7” colour screen to the right-hand side of the front console can be switched to show the feed from either camera.

Roading performance

A standard six-speed Autoshift transmission is to replace all manual and Powershift transmissions on the 3CX and 4CX. Transforming roading and loading performance, TorqueLock will also become standard, reducing travel times by up to 10% and improving fuel efficiency by 25%. The backhoe loader can move materials up to 25% faster, using 50% less fuel than the combination of an 8-tonne excavator and a site dumper.

The floor-mounted manual gear lever will be replaced by a simple column switch, with automatic gear changing through fourth, fifth and sixth gears. Loading is also made easier, with a kick down switch now mounted on the floor, which automatically drops a gear from second to first for maximum traction and shovel penetration.

All 3CX, 4CX and 5CX models now benefit from the standard fit of eight LED work lights, four to the front and four to the rear of the machine. Offering 1,000 lumens of light each, these work lights improve visibility all-round the machine in poor conditions. A 10 LED higher powered work light package remains available as an option.

A seat interlock has been introduced on joystick machines, to avoid the possibility of longer joystick levers hitting the steering wheel when the operator turns the seat. The seat will now only rotate when the steering column is in the fully retracted position, while the steering column foot release remains on the floor of the cab.

JCB has included a host of smaller upgrades into the backhoe loader range, including simplified excavator quickhitch activation, the option of new 20” Michelin Power CL tyres on 3CX and 3CX Plus models, a new seat belt warning feature and a green beacon socket for the UK market.

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