By Chris McCullough

LONG gone are the days of poor visibility from cabs in a telescopic handler, with JCB bringing a new range of agricultural Loadalls to the global market.

The British manufacturer’s new Series III range has an all singing, all dancing Command Plus cab, that is 50% quieter for operators than previous models.

The new Series III JCB Loadall range comprises four models – the 6m lift 538-60, 7m 532-70 and 542-70, and the 9.5m high-lift 536-95, which have up to 200kg extra load capacity against their predecessors.

The already established 560-80 model with 8m lift height and six tonne lift capacity remains the same, while the 536-70 LP continues unchanged with its existing low profile cab for poultry shed and other low height applications.

The engines also stay the same – the 4.4-litre and 4.8-litre JCB EcoMAX power units serve up a choice of 75hp, 109hp, 125hp and 145hp outputs. However, there is a new 40kph Torque Lock 4 powershift transmission, with four-speed torque converter lock-up for the 81kW (109hp) engine to provide more performance and better fuel economy when travelling and towing compared to the regular 30kph four-speed transmission.

JCB’s six-speed Torque Lock auto powershift and its unique DualTech VT hydrostatic/powershift transmissions, which are capable of 40kph, continue as normal.

While all eyes were on the new Command Plus cab at the recent launch, there’s also a distinctive new colour scheme and branding being previewed in the Loadalls. The Command Plus cab will be manufactured in a brand new £50m JCB cab systems factory being constructed near the main plant at Uttoxeter, in Staffordshire.

JCB engineers have spent a great deal of time crafting the new cab completing various ergonomics studies, and an unprecedented programme of end-user consultation, to meet the visibility, comfort, control and practical demands of working operators.

The cab now has much more room, a neater control layout and provides considerably more dedicated storage space. Visibility to the front wheels and beyond has been transformed by the low-set dash panel and by 14% upwards to a raised bucket or fork by uninterrupted glazing that sweeps up and over the operator’s head.

JCB’s chief innovation and growth officer, Tim Burnhope, said: “Just over 40 years ago, the JCB Loadall telescopic handler introduced farmers to a revolution in mechanised materials handling and through successive technical innovations in JCB engines, Smart Hydraulics and advanced transmissions, the Loadall has continued to deliver outstanding productivity, performance, durability and cost-efficiency.

“The latest phase of the Loadall’s development is focused firmly on the agricultural operator, with the all-new Command Plus cab that is quieter, wider and longer, with an improved driving position, controls that are easier to locate and use, and an instrument display that is larger and more informative.

“Finally, but by no means least, the Command Plus design brings a transformation in forwards and upwards visibility that we believe sets new standards for operator productivity, safety and driving ease. It’s a cab without compromise.”

In designing the new Command Plus cab, JCB engineers have built on the Loadall telescopic handler’s respected all-round visibility, especially to the right side thanks to the low set boom and compact engine cover, by focusing on the operator’s view forwards and upwards to optimise productivity, safety and ease of operation.

Mr Burnhope added: “A single-radius sheet of curved glass would have been the simplest solution but was rejected because it brought the windscreen too close to the driver’s face. So we opted for a more sophisticated solution, a multi-radius design that maintains a sense of spaciousness behind the wheel without distorting the view out, and provides a continuous field of vision from the low-set bottom edge of the glass to the top edge above the operator’s head.”

Angling the crossbars of the internal FOPS grille contributed to a 14% increase in upwards and four wipers and washer nozzles keep 92% of the glass clear of rain, dust and dirt, with a fifth wash/wipe cleaning the rear window.

They all use the familiar electro-hydraulic joystick to operate the boom and attachment, transmission forward/reverse and auxiliary hydraulic supply to the boom end. This is mounted either to the right of the driver’s seat or on the air suspension seat itself.

The previous array of rocker switches has given way to clusters of durable rubber membrane switches. Most of these are located alongside the joystick together with a rotary selector dial to navigate menus and select functions on the new tablet-like instrument display that ‘floats’ in front of the right-hand cab pillar.

On AGRI Pro versions with the DualTech VT hydrostatic/powershift transmission, the individual electric engine speed and ground speed controllers used for Flexi Mode are now paddle switches mounted in the end of the armrest for easy fingertip operation.

Features of the new cab also include:

  • Adjustable push-away steering column for easy entry and exit with working position memory;
  • One-piece multi radius curved glazing that combines the windscreen and roof window;
  • Longer and wider dimensions resulting in a 12% increase in size for best-in-class cab volume;
  • Four wipers sweep 92% of the front/roof glass to maintain visibility when wet, muddy or dusty;
  • New air conditioning and optional auto climate control with set-and-forget temperature setting; and there’s optimised air distribution with windscreen, driver or both selection and rapid demist/defrost;
  • Larger, more informative digital instrument display, with controls grouped by related functions;
  • There’s 60% more storage space, including a lift-out bin for documents, tools, food and drink;
  • Phone holder, Bluetooth, integrated mic and speakers for hands-free calls and entertainment.