Earthmoving Report: Volvo L250G Carves Out New Wheel Loader Class

By Katie Weiler, Managing Editor | May 9, 2011

When Volvo says the L250G is in a class of its own, one might assume that’s an inflated manufacturer claim. But after reviewing competitive wheel-loader specifications, combined with its two-pass capability, that indeed is true.

According to the latest spec data, horsepower ranges for wheel loaders around that size jump from 367 to the larger-end machines at 427 horsepower. The L250G nestles nicely in between at 389 horsepower, thanks to Volvo’s 13-liter, six-cylinder turbo V-ACT diesel. The engine not only meets Tier 4-Interim emissions requirements, but also features cooled exhaust gas recirculation and a particulate filter with active regeneration. Volvo explains that the active-type DPF temporarily holds the particulate matter and then incinerates it, further reducing emissions, and there is no need to stop the machine in order to conduct the regeneration process. The D13 also boasts fuel efficiency and longer engine life because it provides high torque at low engine speeds.

Bucket capacities for the new machine range from 6.7 to 13.3 cubic yards, with operating weights of 75,000 to 86,000 pounds. In North America, the big news is the loader’s new 9-cubic-yard rehandling bucket, which is said to fill a tri-axle, on-highway truck in two passes. Volvo notes that this machine is aimed at filling the need to move from three-pass to two-pass loading for finished aggregate materials in tri-axle highway trucks, which could fill up to 30 percent more trucks per day. The loader’s heavy-duty Z-Bar loader linkage allows for breakout forces of 65,329 pounds for digging in tough materials. Based on comparison specs, that tops Komatsu’s WA500-6 at 55,100 pounds.

“Make no mistake, this is not a modified L220G or modified 7.3-yard machine,” says Blaine Pressley, Volvo segment director. “This machine is totally new and specifically designed for this 9-yard rehandling bucket and the two-pass application. Of course, this loader will also work in the quarry face loading blasted rock, as well, but you’d have to equip it with a smaller bucket intended for pit-loading applications.”

Pressley also says an all-Volvo power train is engineered to work in harmony for high performance. The transmission features the company’s Automatic Power Shift (APS) concept, which senses engine and travel speed; kick-down; engine braking; and other factors to ensure the loader continually operates in optimal gears. Four gear-shifting programs allow operators to achieve productive work cycles and save on fuel and wear.

Volvo’s OptiShift system comprises a new torque converter with lock up and free wheel stator and integrates the patented reverse-by-braking (RBB) function, reducing fuel consumption by up to 15 percent. When changing from forward to reverse (or vice versa), RBB applies the standard service brakes instead of the torque converter, slowing the machine and putting less stress on the converter and transmission, Volvo says. OptiShift maximizes savings in operations such as load-and-carry as well as in short-cycle loading. The driveline lock up is designed to improve drive response, rimpull and incline performance, and fuel efficiency.

The loader’s intelligent load-sensing hydraulics deliver power to hydraulic functions only when needed, without unnecessary oil pumping. Hydraulic pumps provide full flow at the engine’s optimal working range, Volvo says, eliminating the need to throttle to maximum rpm for higher flow, saving more fuel.

Stronger lift and tilt functions are achieved with Volvo variable-flow axial piston pumps, with higher capacities for accurate control of attachment and load.

Operator amenities

Many features contribute to operator comfort in the latest Volvo Care Cab. Besides being ROPS/FOPS approved, the spacious cabin provides all-around visibility both outside and inside to the centrally located instrumentation. Servo controls are mounted on the seat and allow the selection of many settings—such as return-to-dig, boom kick out, and bucket leveler—located on the front, right pillar. An optional joystick steering and gear-shift control system is designed to eliminate tiring arm movements for the operator, improving productivity in short-cycle duties. The cab also features low noise and vibration as well as efficient air-management and filtering systems. Rearview camera and color monitor come standard.

Another productivity booster is the machine’s advanced electronic monitoring diagnostics, which also prolong machine life and enhance uptime. For example, Contronics monitors information from power train, brakes, etc., in real time and alerts the operator via an easy-to-read information panel if problems occur. Volvo’s CareTrack telematics system comes standard and allows machine location and operating data to be viewed via the Internet from anywhere in the world. The L250G comes with a free three-year subscription to the service.

G-Series machines have daily pre-start items and scheduled service checks—such as centralized, ground level lubrication banks—conveniently grouped together for quick maintenance tasks. And consumables like filters are easy to reach and replace. The L250G is fitted with a brand new engine cover that provides better ventilation of the engine compartment and can be electronically opened in a rearward direction, providing easy access for fast cleaning or servicing.