A new wheel loader series was introduced to the heavy equipment market last week at an international press tour organized by Liebherr, the Switzerland-based manufacturer of earthmoving equipment, tower and mobile cranes, deep foundation equipment and concrete technology.
The XPower series was unveiled October 27 at a press conference attended by a select group of international trade press journalists, including a representative from Heavy Equipment Guide, at Liebherr’s United Kingdom headquarters in Biggleswade, located about 40 miles north of London.
Martin Gschwend, sales director, Liebherr-Werk Bischofshofen, called the launch “a significant milestone in the technological history of Liebherr wheel loaders.”
At the heart of the machine is a power-split drivetrain that combines a hydrostatic and mechanical drive. The hydrostatic drive is designed for work over short distances requiring short loading cycles, while the mechanical drive is better suited for driving long distance and uphill.
The new power-split transmission is expected to result in fuel savings of around 30 percent compared to conventional drive loaders, according to Liebherr.
It will be a standard feature on the L 550 through L 586 models, something Liebherr takes particular pride in, said Gschwend.
“Power splitting is generally acknowledged as the drive technology of the future for wheel loaders and Liebherr’s many years of experience with hydrostatic drive concepts has been a major contributor to the success of its XPower drivetrain development,” he said in prepared remarks at the Liebherr UK offices.
The XPower drive system is powered through the interaction of the two drive paths with the performance and torque of the diesel engine always distributed along both paths. The load is therefore also distributed over the two drive paths, which results in a longer component lifespan, according to the company.
Engines in the XPower machines will employ SCR technology. Liebherr says the discontinued use of diesel particulate filters and exhaust gas recycling minimize the risk of breakdown and reduce fuel consumption and maintenance. The Tier 4 Final engines are mounted on the back of the machines to eliminate the need for a counterweight and will run at 1,100 to 1,800 rpms.
According to the company, the XPower drivetrain independently supports braking, with the operating brake only functioning as support, meaning the new wheel loaders have almost no brake wear. The continuous force control in combination with the automatic self-locking differential prevents the wheels from slipping, reducing tire wear by up to 25 percent.
Each loader will be equipped with stronger axles than previous generations. (For example the new L 556 XPower loader has the earlier-model L 556 axles)
Customers can choose between Z-bar linkage and industrial linkage for the XPower L 550, L 556, L 566 and L 580 models. The Z-bar linkage provides up to 20 percent more break-out force compared to previous models. Buckets and bearings have been reinforced, thus increasing volume by between 0.2 and 0.5 cubic metres, allowing operators to move more material with each load cycle.
Other design improvements include a tapered engine hood to increase operator visibility, and an operating lever integrated into the driver’s seat as a standard feature. The touch screen display is adjustable depending on where the operator prefers to position it in the cab.
As in earlier wheel loader models, the radiator is located behind the operator’s cab where the least amount of debris accumulates.
Gschwend said the XPower wheel loaders proved “extremely robust” during a test phase consisting of 65,000 operating hours in a variety of applications. “There has not been a single main component failure and key components, such as the power-split transmission and the larger axles, have proved to be particularly durable.”
The new machines will debut at the Bauma trade show in Munich next April, and will be available in North America mid-2016.
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