JCB is celebrating 50 years of wheeled loading shovel manufacture – and 20 years since opening a multi-million pound UK factory dedicated to this product line – with production hitting record highs to meet growing demand for agricultural, earth-moving, quarrying, construction and waste management applications.
Over the past five decades, the company’s award-winning loaders have increasingly been adopted by farmers and contractors needing high capacity machines for filling silage clamps, clearing cattle yards, loading manure and lime spreaders, and out-loading bulk grain and fertiliser stores. And in that time, the JCB range has expanded to include compact and bulk-loading machines, as well as telescopic boom models, while introducing many market-leading technologies and establishing JCB as a global leader in the loader business.
JCB entered the wheeled loader market by acquiring Chaseside Engineering, based in Lancashire, north-east England, with production of its seven rigid chassis machines getting fully underway in 1969 at JCB’s Rocester factory in Staffordshire.
In that first year, just 298 examples of the former Chaseside machines were built but today, JCB builds tens of thousands of 25 different loader models on assembly lines in Brazil, China and India – as well as in the UK, of course, where 2019 also marks the 20th anniversary of JCB opening a multi-million pound factory dedicated to these products in Cheadle, Staffordshire.
JCB Chief Innovation and Growth Officer Tim Burnhope said: “Over the past 50 years, JCB’s wheeled loader range has evolved into a major part of our product portfolio. Fifty years is a long time but our sights are firmly on the future and we are committed to bringing new levels of innovation to this range.
“The launch of the spacious Command Plus cab on our wheeled loaders in 2014 was a pivotal moment in this machine’s history and this innovation really did put operator comfort at the heart of the design.”
Having gained new engineering skills and expertise with the Chaseside acquisition, the first JCB-designed wheeled loaders arrived in 1971 with the launch of the 413 and 418. These featured an articulated chassis for maximum manoeuvrability and a cab mounted on the front section to provide the operator with an unmatched view of the working area.
In 1973, the 423 and 428 took JCB into heavier wheeled loader territory, to be followed later by the 410, 420 and 430 that featured an innovative four-ram loader linkage to provide parallel lift, which proved essential for materials handling duties in particular.
Today, JCB still offers a choice of parallel lift or Z-bar high tear-out loader arm designs, as well as arms of different lengths on some models for maximum load capacity or greater lift height.
With demand for its loaders coming from numerous sectors, JCB recognised the need for individual machine specifications for differing applications in agriculture, construction, quarrying and waste handling.
The first agricultural loader – the 1.0cu m 410 Farm Master – was launched in 1983 to be followed by the 412 and 425 Farm Master in 1990. Subsequent ‘S’ versions came with increased power, more poweshift transmission speeds and other features that gave them the added performance, traction and ability to climb silage clamps that contractors and large farming operations wanted.
Meanwhile, JCB moved into the compact market in 1987; the 406 was the first JCB loader to have its cab mounted on the rear section of the articulated chassis, and this format was adopted for the 1989 introduction of the 408 and 408 Farm Master compacts, the new 411, 412S and 416 introduced in 1994, and the 414S, 426 and 436ZX launched in 1995.
That was also the year that JCB made the inspired decision to capitalise on its 26 years of loading shovel experience and 22 years of telescopic handler expertise to produce the 409 TeleMaster, the company’s first telescopic wheeled loader.
Combining the talents and all-round visibility of an articulated wheeled loader chassis with the versatility of a telescopic boom proved a hit with dairy and other livestock farmers, and resulted in the higher-performance TM200 and TM270 in 1997, followed by the TM300 and then the TM310 and TM310S models in 2007.
Subsequent upgrades enhanced a well-deserved reputation for toughness, durability, traction and ease of use – attributes that have been underscored with the introduction of the TM320 and TM320S in 2012, and the launch last year of the 4.1 tonne, 5.45m TM420 as JCB’s most productive telescopic wheeled loader.
The performance of JCB wheeled loaders has also followed an upward trajectory, notably with the launch of the 434S in 2005, easily the highest output JCB wheeled loader built for agriculture at the time and a truly purpose-built machine contrasting with competitor products adapted from industrial and earth-moving loaders.
Its successor, the 435S added further traction, transmission and fuel-saving technologies, and along with the bulk loading 457, was the first JCB agricultural loader to get the all-new JCB Command Plus cab subsequently introduced on the other full-size models, comprising the 437 bulk loading machine, the 413S and 419S with their higher-specification powertrains and hydraulics, and the 411, 417 and 427 catering for lighter field applications and routine on-farm handling along with the big 457.
With more space, better visibility, lower noise levels, new instruments and controls, and a greater choice of higher specification seats, the focus of the Command Plus cab is firmly on providing the best possible operator environment for increased productivity with less fatigue.
Operators using machines at the other end of the scale have not been forgotten – the all-new hydrostatic drive 403 has brought modern instruments, controls, refinements and features to the compact wheeled loader sector, including the new option of an innovative folding canopy to gain access to buildings with a low doorway or roof.
Proof if any were needed, that innovation and a drive to reduce operating costs while raising productivity is as alive today as when JCB entered the wheeled loader market 50 years ago.
Facts & Figures
JCB bought Chaseside Engineering for its seven-model rigid-chassis loader range and product engineering expertise; the machines entered full-scale production at Rocester 50 years ago in 1969. JCB introduced its own loaders in 1971 – with a cab mounted on the front section of the articulated chassis.
Numerous awards have been won by JCB’s loading shovel activities – the innovative hydrostatic drive JCB 110 tracked loader won a Design Council award in 1972 and the JCB 418 wheeled loader won the same accolade in 1973. A Queen’s Award for Export Achievement and a Silver Medal for the 412 Farm Master from the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) followed. The Queen’s Award for Enterprise has been won twice.
Military versions of JCB’s wheeled loading shovels were first introduced with the 410M-1B in 1984 and current ‘M’ versions are ‘winterised and waterproofed’ for earth-moving and logistics handling duties wherever they are needed.
JCB’s own 4.4-litre engine made its wheeled loader debut in the 412S in 2008, two years after a pair of specially-prepared examples bored out to 5.0-litres powered the JCB Dieselmax streamliner to a new Land Speed Record of 350.097mph (563.418km/hr), which still stands today.
In 1993, JCB’s wheeled loader operations became a fully-fledged division with its own engineering, manufacturing and marketing resources; in 1999, the division moved to the multi-million pound JCB Earthmovers factory in Cheadle, Staffordshire. JCB wheeled loaders are also built in Brazil, China and India.
The JCB EcoMAX engine made its wheeled loader debut in 2014 in the 411, 413S, 417 and 418S (now 419S) and work progresses towards upgrading the powertrain in these and other JCB loaders to Euro Stage V emissions compliance.