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Trucks vs loaders

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Gr8WhiteNorth, Jan 31, 2013.

  1. Gr8WhiteNorth

    Gr8WhiteNorth Senior Member
    Messages: 227

    After totaling up $9,300 in damage to plow trucks so far this year, my partner is convinced we need to get rid of the plows and start using loaders with box plows.

    His argument is that our loaders never endure damage, but the plow trucks are costing $10,000 per season in body damage, bumpers, tail lights, windshields, and other various mishaps while out plowing.

    We have 6 v-plows, 1 straight plow, 2 loaders, but only one with 12 ft box plow.

    The loaders have better visibility, out-perform plow trucks by 2-3 times, aren't likely to be physically damaged on the body and bumpers compared to trucks, rarely break down, can't be "bagged" or abused, scrape to bare pavement, back drag, and the list goes on.

    My worry is driving 12 ft box plows around town.

    When comparing price, the loaders are higher in price than a plow truck, but seem to have much more benefit.

    Have any others made these comparisons? What's your findings?

    Input appreciated
  2. Spool it up

    Spool it up Senior Member
    Messages: 912

    6 in one hand , 1/2 dozen in the other .
  3. peteo1

    peteo1 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,660

    Here's a thought....instead of dropping $80k on a loader how about hiring some guys that can actually drive a truck? If you think $10k is bad, which it is, just wait till you start buying loader parts and paying a dealer service bill. Not trying go be a jerk but there are cheaper options.
  4. Spool it up

    Spool it up Senior Member
    Messages: 912

    correctamondo .:mechanic:
  5. Mark13

    Mark13 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,794

    I don't mean to be rude or come off as a jerk, but instead of buying different equipment to lessen damages you may want to reconsider different help to lessen damages.

    If an employee doesn't give a crap about the truck he's plowing with, what makes you think he'll care anymore about the $80k loader and the $5k box out front? All your letting him do now is damage more things on the property easier and still damage the equipment.

    I understand where your coming from with your thoughts, but there is only so much you can do to be preventative for damage. Good help that respects your stuff and is responsible is the biggest part.
  6. Raymond S.

    Raymond S. Senior Member
    Messages: 513

    Just thinking out loud. If you can use 2 loaders to take the place of 4 trucks maybe...? take the money you would be spending on repairs added with the savings in wages of 2 guys and rent the 2 loaders. "IF" your thoughts are in line it may reduce some stress and lessen the burden of ownership/repair. All depends on if you can service your accounts with a loader though.
    I do agree though that a lot of your problem seems to be with getting good help though. If you're asking this question I'm sure you already realize this .
    Still thinking out loud...I can't see eliminating the trucks completely though. You're still going to need them for detail work that the loader can't get.
  7. dodge2500

    dodge2500 Senior Member
    Messages: 250

    I too agree that the right personnel may solve your problem. However, have you considered large ( at least 85 hp) skid loaders with 2 speeds and 10' boxes on the front? We span an area of about 6 miles with 2 large skids and arctic sectionals and the skids can outperform a truck at least 3 to one with the right operator. Skids are also much cheaper to buy. You can find good used 1000 hr skids for low 20's We also have two loaders with 12' boxes and they too work well but in any lot of about 3 acres or less, our large skids can outperform the loaders especially if they are chopped up with islands like most lots these days are. We run our skids from job to job down the roads. They each end up going around 5 miles down the road total each storm. This may not work for you but we have found it to work very well for us.
  8. bluerage94

    bluerage94 Senior Member
    Messages: 398

    If they're careless with a truck wait till they hit something with a loader...theyre a lot less forgiving...
  9. Italiano67

    Italiano67 Senior Member
    Messages: 645

    It is an interesting question. I have thought the same thing because it seems like I see more payloaders now more than ever and I hate to say it but I think they are far more efficient than trucks and there are no limits on what they can take care of on snow amounts. Trucks have their limits and when you get a huge storm and and if the trucks get behind they struggle and are pushed too hard. The loader makes easy work of deep snow and they are being used on smaller and smaller jobs because with a pusher on they can go through alot of small properties and stack the snow in a hurry. Some will say they are too big around islands etc but the medium size loaders can knock them out quickly with a good operator. With a new pickup and plow reaching close to 50 grand which will buy a decent loader i would have to go the loader route. There will be alot of relieved stress when you see a big storm coming and you know you can handle anything and even if it comes down fast. Plus trucks cant stack very high and the loader can move the snow off the key lot areas which will make the customer happy. The customer seems happier to pay when they have a loader working than if they see trucks.
  10. White Gardens

    White Gardens 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,665

    Heck, lease rates on loaders aren't bad anymore. Seems like a lot of dealers have lots of loaders available in the winter.

    Might want to check out the rates. The truck damage bill would probably equal the lease price for the season. Then you also take the maintenance out of the equation as the dealer will do all the repair work.

  11. born2farm

    born2farm 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,310

    This is a subject I have thrown around before. Loaders are far more efficient, on most lots. As mentioned though , I think you are going to need to address who you have running the equipment before you can make this decision. You can do a lot more damage to a property with a loader than with a pickup. The switch from trucks to loaders should be based on efficiency, Not which one will be harder for your guys to tear up. That my two cents.

    For what it's worth I am looking heavily at switching to small loaders and dedicated salt trucks to replace our front line trucks.
  12. GSS LLC

    GSS LLC Senior Member
    Messages: 640

    buy ONE tire for a loader. tell me which is cheaper. and repair a brake on a loader. hows that bill gonna look compared to trucks. loaders make big money, but they cost big money.
  13. merrimacmill

    merrimacmill PlowSite.com Addict
    from MA
    Messages: 1,823

    I agree. And even so, its not easy to make the big money with a loader especially when its only used for snow. I know a lot of guys who do it, but I'm not there yet at least.
  14. excav8ter

    excav8ter Senior Member
    Messages: 554

    I'm going to agree with most of the previous posts too Gr8White..... if the guys are careless with a truck, a wheel loader is going to cost a LOT more to repair, not to mention what it will do to a car, light pole, building or what ever else you have around you, when an operator is backing up and not aware of his surroundings and clips one of the previously mentioned items, while in reverse at 10-15 mph. I, like many here, have quite a bit of experience pushing with loaders, and while they can clear huge areas quickly your operator had better be a true operator....not one of these guys that say " i can run anything"....but a tried and true operator. Those will be the guys that will make you money. I have seen guys snap curbs, hit fire hydrants and be thrown through windshields, when they thought they were good. Accidents will happen, but a good operator will minimize the risks.
  15. DodgeRam1985

    DodgeRam1985 Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 82

    My .02 for what it's worth.....

    I will not challenge the thought of the loader out competing a truck, however from my 20+ years farming and working with loaders and tractors two thoughts come to mind. The first, when something breaks (and yes something will albiet not quite as quickly as with a truck) be prepared to hand over big $$$ (especially after hours). Second, do you have accounts which require a "constant clear" that don't want any snow on the ground very long? If you do, imagine how much of an idiot you will look like running your loader down there to clear that 2" of white gold!

    I would also make sure you don't buy too old or used of a loader. You really have to watch because a lot of used ones come in from construction and also state, county, and city use (which basically means they have already been beat to hell and back a few times). The importance of getting a newer one is that you will have more parts available. Try having a cylinder re-sealed from an internal gasket leak, it would be a lot cheaper to buy a new one than having it sent out to a shop and basically having it remanufactured (costs time and money), but you can't always put a newer one on and have it fit and work properly.

    My suggestion, go with a mix, get a couple loaders, keep a couple trucks, and definitely get some new employees! (The rule on my farm and small plowing business is that if you broke it and it was clearly your fault, you pay the bill before I write your next check!)
  16. Raymond S.

    Raymond S. Senior Member
    Messages: 513

    You have a lot of guys write that check do ya??? Seems a little extreme. Chit happens. When it happens more than once its a pattern. A pattern of carelessness results in termination. I would never ask an employee who is making pennies to my dollar write me a check for a repair. If it happens more than once its my fault for allowing it.
  17. DodgeRam1985

    DodgeRam1985 Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 82

    No, not many guys write that check, at least not more than once! And I'm not talking about little stupid stuff that happens either. I understand accidents happen and sometimes things just don't go write. For those, I cover it no problem. I'm referencing the abuse or stupidity used to operate my machinery, and if they lie about it, they are done no questions asked.

    For example, I had one guy working for me, who bent the bucket, arms, frame of the tractor, and busted the hydro's on my JD4850. He told me that it must have been a chunk of ice he hit. I then walked slowly around the tractor and happened to notice a chunk of concrete sitting next to one of the light poles (not to mention the John Deere paint left on it).

    I Personally I don't have time to deal with some idiot that thinks my $85,000 tractor is his play toy or any of my other equipment (trucks included). My guys are all paid very well and have a high loyalty to me, as I provide them year round work between farming and snow (if we have it). They know I take care of my equipment, and while accidents happen and stuff breaks, I will not accept their carelessness or misstreatment as a reason for why it happens.
  18. GSS LLC

    GSS LLC Senior Member
    Messages: 640

    technically, i think its illegal to make an employee pay for damage, unless you run it through the court systems first. may be that its illegal to take it out of his pay. something along those lines.
  19. Italiano67

    Italiano67 Senior Member
    Messages: 645

    You are right on the being illegal part. I think it is a commonly used threat with very little actual practice. I guess it might work if a employee is scared to death of losing their job but most guys I know would tell you to pound sand and leave. I wouldnt threaten my guys with that because it just creates resentment.
  20. blowerman

    blowerman PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,275

    The idea behind this post is good. Debating the value of a loader vs truck: All the great input guys could share on this forum.
    Unfortunately, the OP started with his accident report for 2012/13. This lead to, well, just what you'd expect, a bunch of sarcastic critics.
    I will agree with other respondents, your cost of auto body repairs is absurd. Most of us have all had a few incidents over the years, but to have a $10k budget is crazy.
    And to the posters that think they can charge the employee or force them to pay for repairs, as others have stated, "it's illegal." If you want guys to pay for the repairs, hire subs.

    Now onto the loader vs truck.
    I'm a big fan a wheel loaders. The visibility, manuverability, and you guys are right, an inch or a foot doesn't really effect a loader. They retain their value better/longer, while breakdowns are expensive, with good maintenance, you'll have less compared to trucks.
    I can replace 2-3 trucks with one loader.
    The debate on running down the road with 12' plus pushers is really a regional thing. Seems like some places will stop you for 10' width and in my case, we road a 14' with out a problem.
    If one were to spend 25-30K on a truck, (I know that's cheap) considering it could typically replace 2-3 trucks, then budget $50-75k for a decent loader.
    Finally, as to the poster that said to rent: I see you are in Illinois, are loaders really that easy to find and rent in your area? I just added a Volvo L70 this past month from my local dealer in WI and the machine I bought (it's a couple years old) was out on rent in Ill to a decent sized company that couldn't find one in the chicago area. Just an odd statement unless you can back it up.