Earthmoving Report: JCB Servo Control Options

JCB, an equipment manufacturer, has acquired backhoe servo controls to transform the industry. Jim Blower says the softer push and reduced arm throw required by servo controls reduces operator fatigue, especially when the controls are seat-mounted. “This is our firm belief at JCB,” said Blower, senior product manager at JCB’s North American headquarters. “If you can make the operator as comfortable as possible, he will be more productive throughout his day.” However, the disadvantages of switching from manual controls are reduced hydraulic function speed and operator feel for the tool.

With the latest upgrade to its backhoe loader product line, JCB is aiming to bring the “best of both worlds” together. Easycontrol’s seat-mounted servo control system is available as an option on 14-foot, 15-foot and 17-foot models of 3CX and 4CX backhoe loaders and features a full-flow valve block and open hydraulic circuit associated with manual systems.

“In a typical servo system, including our precision control system, you have a flow-sharing valve block, so only half the oil can flow to one of the services,” Bloor said. “So if you take that valve block out and put back the full flow valve block, which is what a manual machine has, then you can increase the speed of the machine.

“When everyone goes to servos, you lose speed and you lose operator feel, but you get the huge benefit of greater operator comfort,” he said. “So you have to weigh one or the other. Now with Easycontrol , which restores everything, allowing you to restore all performance in the backend, as well as operator comfort.

Blower said manual controls remain standard on 3CX and four-wheel-steer, four-size-tire 4CX backhoe loaders, but the Easycontrol option (not available on entry-level 3C models) offers contractors a lucrative alternative plan. This is especially true in North America, where JCB research shows that 75 to 80 percent of backhoe loaders are used with the machine secured and the operator rocking from side to side in the seat to perform rear-end work.

Model*web engine
Output power (horsepower)
Weight (lbs)
3CX 14 feet84.6Two-wheel drive/four-wheel drive2WS15,0534CX 14 feet97.6four-wheel drive4WS16,9863CX 15 feet88.8four-wheel drive2WS17,0374CX 15 feet97.6four-wheel drive4WS18,7653CX 17 feet88.8four-wheel drive2WS17,5154CX 17 feet97.6four-wheel drive4WS18,968*Models equipped with Easycontrol system
Source: Spec-Check.com Extended Specs (as of July/09)

“If the operator can feel where the bucket is, then he’s not going to break through a water pipe or a gas line or whatever he’s digging. So it’s really important for the operator to have that feeling back in the control device,” he explain. “Working in cities around the service industry, people would choose a manual machine because they have more control over it, they can feel where things are, but they won’t have the comfort of a servo system. Now with these controls device, you get the best of both worlds. The increase in speed of just a single service—whether it’s operating the stick, bucket, or other accessory—can result in an overall 9 percent improvement in overall cycle time. “The analogy I use is, it’s like a truck. Automatic and a manual car: automatic, it does it all for you; manual, you have to do a little more, but if you do a little more, you’ll be fine.

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