Attachments Are Big Business

Rod Sutton, Editor in Chief | September 28, 2010

Rod Sutton, Editor in Chief
Rod Sutton, Editor in Chief

The groundhog told us spring would come quickly this year, but 10 days later a blizzard reminded us that we live in the upper Midwest. As one wheel loader operator explained how he had to drive in circles around a mall parking lot in order to keep up with the blowing snow, our eyes were drawn to the machine's blade.

Attachments have become big business as machines no longer perform single functions. Wheel loaders, skid-steers, excavators and others have become carriers for various types of tools. Fleet operations must now manage buckets, couplers, and asphalt grinders. The list goes on and grows monthly.

Recently, Construction Equipment queried subscribers about hammer usage on skid-steer loaders, backhoe-loaders, and excavators. Our research revealed that 95 percent of the machines were used with attachments.

Although one-third of respondents purchased attachments with the machine, about half say they buy attachments separately and 40 percent rent. We asked respondents for all the ways they acquire attachments, so many use more than one method. For equipment managers researching attachments, our online manufacturer database includes hundreds of listings (including 30 manufacturers of snowblowing attachments, by the way). Our specifications database covers breakers, hammers and shears.

Managers used to measuring productivity of whole machines must now consider the productivity of their attachments. They must ask: What tools work best in various applications; do we buy or rent the attachment; how do we maintain the tool, or is it a commodity that we use and replace; and how many of each do we need on hand? Attachments replace hand labor, too. How do managers help their operations folks decide what applications can be done more efficiently with an attachment than with a crew of laborers? These are all tough questions, but as attachment manufacturers introduce innovative tools for the industry's carriers, managers must start asking them.

Let us know what's worked for you. Tell us your stories about attachments that performed in specific applications, or tell us how you have answered these tough questions. At the end of the online version of this article, use TalkBack to start the conversation. We'll see where it goes.

We welcome your comments.


Fax: 630/288-8185

Mail: 2000 Clearwater Drive, Oak Brook, IL 60523