At Cereals in June, JCB launched the 435S, its latest pivot-steer wheeled loader designed for agricultural use
At Cereals in June, JCB launched the 435S, its latest pivot-steer wheeled loader designed for agricultural use. Replacing the 434S updates are designed to improve performance and reduce fuel consumption and, prior to its display at Cereals, a pre-production example was in use with P&R Burbage, experienced operators of a 434S, comparing it with the previous model. David Williams visited the users to see how the new model performed.Providing a specialist contracting service to livestock and grassland farmers within 25 miles of its East Haddon, Northampton base, the company relies on a large fleet of modern machinery but owners Pete and Richard Burbage say that there are two machines within their fleet that they just cannot manage without; one is the forage harvester and the other; the JCB loading shovel. “If tractors break down, it’s frustrating but we can always get hold of another,” explained Richard. “If the forage harvester or the loading shovel break down then the whole operation is held up so we depend on reliability, good performance and excellent back-up from the manufacturer and the dealer.”The business was started 22 years ago by Pete, and Richard joined a few years later as it expanded. Now there is a suckler herd of 150 Saler-cross-Charolaise cattle for which silage is produced from the brothers’ own land, a fleet of nine modern conventional tractors, a specialist tractor with a mounted slurry applicator, an assortment of makes of modern square and round balers, the forage harvester, two JCB telescopic handlers and the JCB wheeled loader.Grass and maize silage is produced for farms in the area, and although most of the company’s contracting is livestock and grassland related, there are some clients growing maize for which the brothers provide a stubble-to-stubble service. Some 50,000 straw bales are produced each year, some of which are made from straw purchased in the swath and sold from the field, and others which are produced for local livestock farms. A large bale chaser is operated and used to clear fields quickly.First cut silage from the owned grassland is used for the suckler herd, with later cuts used for haylage bales, most of which are sold to equestrian customers with every one guaranteed for quality.Very little arable work is carried out but there is some ploughing and min-till cultivation work for local farmers. Cereals harvesting is not undertaken as it is felt that this might result in the business spreading itself too thinly during the busy months and that, as a result, the service it offers could suffer. Essential differences: 435S vs 434S
“We enjoy the suckler herd,” explained Richard, “and we both feel that the cattle benefit our whole business. Having them means we have to think beyond the contracting service, and we face the same challenges and opportunities as our customers, so we understand more about their businesses. Because we produce our own silage we know what farmers want to see when they pull back the silage covers, and we know just how it feels if there are losses caused by poor clamping. We do our very best to make sure our customers’ silage is just as good as we would expect ours to be.”The other benefit of having the cattle is that there is work for employees all year round. Besides Richard and Pete there are two full-time staff and at busy times an extra 10 part-time are taken on.The first wheeled loader was purchased in 1998, a pivot-steer JCB TM270, and in 2002 a JCB 412 loading shovel and a 530-70 telescopic handler were added to the fleet. In 2005 the 412 was replaced by a 414, and this was updated again in 2011, by another of the same model, and in 2011 the 434S was purchased.The 434S is primarily for use on the silage clamps, for pushing up and rolling, and for loading manure for spreading, but it is also used as a back-up for the two telescopic handlers when needed for tasks such as bale handling. The decision to purchase the first loading shovel was made after a lot of worry about its practicality, said Richard. “When we bought our first pivot-steer JCB TM270 we thought it was fantastic; it could get anywhere, was incredibly manoeuvrable and revolutionised our work, but with all that we were expecting it to do, we were wearing it out. We estimated that we had moved approximately one million tonnes with it and although we have always been very thorough with our maintenance we could see we needed something bigger.”When we were considering moving to the much larger loading shovel, we felt it would be difficult getting it into the tighter areas in which we work, but it actually wasn’t an issue, and with its larger capacity jobs are carried out more quickly and easily. For example, loading our 18t manure spreader took 14 bucketfuls with the TM loader, and with the 434S it takes just four. There is considerably less wear and tear on the machine,” he added.Richard feels that the operator environment is much better on the loading shovel too; “At the end of a day’s work the operator gets off it and doesn’t feel tired,” he says. “We really saw a difference between the first 412 and then the 414, and although our latest machine is larger, it has a better cab environment and operation is simpler.”Asked why a JCB loader was operated, Pete commented that he felt it was the only true agricultural specification machine; “The parallel linkage on the loader is excellent and gives us very good visibility. Working later in the year on the maize clamps, especially in the evening when it is dark, good vision all around is important and we have found the JCB to be the best.”Another reason for choosing JCB was the dealer back-up available; “Quarries and industrial users don’t generally work weekends so dealers supplying what is generally seen as industrial equipment are often open just five days per week,” he said. “Agricultural dealers are different, providing back-up at any time needed, especially during harvest, and having a dealer which is geared up to provide the back-up we require is essential. We use Watling JCB for all our JCB machinery and the dealer is very good, the staff understand our business and our needs and are easy to deal with.”Richard said the relationship with the local dealer is one of the most important factors in choosing any new machinery; “We find some dealers make an effort to understand our business, and will visit and ask questions, and want to know all about what we do. We build a good relationship and we can trust them to consider carefully our needs and to recommend products which will suit our use. And, if a problem occurs, they understand the effect it has and do their best to help us find a solution.”Some dealers just lack that understanding and either don’t bother, or just aren’t interested, and when that is the case then there is no point us dealing with them,” he added.The JCB435S was proven to have much faster cycle times than its predecessor, the 434S.“We are very loyal to our suppliers, and value the relationship, the product and the after-sales service as a package so we wouldn’t go looking for alternatives unless there was a particular reason. In the same way we find our farmer customers are loyal to us, and we always try to do the very best for them valuing that loyalty.”As well as getting on well with Watling JCB, Richard says there is an excellent relationship between his business and the staff at JCB. “We have built up a great working relationship and are pleased that when they visit they always take such an interest in what we do. It’s not just about the machinery either. They are keen to find out about and understand all aspects of our business and they seem to realise that it all links in together.”The loading shovel works just over 1,000 hours per year, and Pete explained that unlike other machines it has to work almost all the time it is running; its easiest work when it is on the road. Company staff do most of the servicing; a policy which Pete feels helps them understand the products more. “If they do the servicing then they get to know the machine well, and feel more responsible for it,” he said. “Because the loader works so hard, we encourage them to grease the arms twice per day and when they are walking around it they are more likely to spot any problems which might occur.”The brothers were delighted to be asked to try the latest loader from JCB. “Each time a new model has been introduced it has been better than the previous machine, and the 435S is no exception,” said Richard. “As soon as we drove it in the yard we could tell it was livelier. The transmission upgrades with lock-up in all of the six speeds have made it far more efficient, and it left the 434S for dead. “On the clamp, cycle times were faster; we recorded up to 34 per cent improvement over the 434S, and it is almost 18 per cent faster on the road. Usually, when we finish and are moving to the next job, the loader is last to leave, as the crop is pushed up and rolled and the covers are put on, then with the loader’s slower road speed the rest of the team waits at the next work site for the loader operator, who runs the whole operation, to arrive. However, with the faster cycle times, finishing off was quicker, then less time was spent travelling, and this meant harvesting at the next farm was started sooner,” he added.
“There was far less hold up, and when in convoy the 435S could keep up with the tractors, rather than being left behind. It might be just a few minutes saved on each job but it adds up and becomes quite significant.”Appreciated by operators was that the lock-up could be disengaged with the flick of a switch from the cab. “Being able to switch it off meant the gear change was gentler and, when the power wasn’t needed, it made the loader more relaxing to drive,” said Pete.When the new loader arrived, it was fitted with a very precise fuel meter so operators were able to see exactly how much fuel was used on each job, and to compare it with the 434S. “We recorded significant fuel savings; up to 16 per cent on the road and 28 per cent on the clamp,” said Richard, “and with the cost of fuel now that is a significant difference.”Richard said the main advantage of the new model was that full power isn’t needed all the time; “To start with we operated it as we did the 434S, revving the engine flat-out, but we quickly learned that with the more efficient power delivery that wasn’t necessary as it had plenty of power in reserve. It wasn’t that the engine is more powerful, but just that the way it used the power was more efficient. This meant it was more relaxing to drive, quieter, and probably accounts for the better cycle times and reduced fuel use on tasks.”Asked whether they will be ordering the latest model when the 434S is due for replacement, Richard and Pete had no doubts; “We are 100 per cent certain that the 435S would be a good machine for us. We wouldn’t hesitate as if we can gain operational improvements when we update then we would be mad not to. Going back to our own 434S after the 435S was returned to JCB we really noticed the difference in performance. While both were on site operators always took the new machine if they could as they preferred it to drive. It’s a very good machine,” said Pete.
Essential specs – JCB 435S Agri
Essential differences: 435S vs 434S