Mecalac designs unique-pivoting swing loader
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Four-wheel steering and an automatically engaging rear axle help maintain stability while pivoting the bucket. (Mecalac)

Mecalac designs unique-pivoting swing loader

The 12-ton AS1600 departs from traditional wheel-loader design by its unique ability to pivot its fully loaded bucket up to 90 degrees.

Mecalac markets itself as an urban-equipment manufacturer, and the company’s focus on designing machines for constricted-space jobsites so prevalent in cities is manifested in the AS1600 swing loader. According to Peter Bigwood, general manager for Mecalac North America, the AS1600 – and all models in the AS Swing Loader Series – departs from traditional wheel loader design by offering the “unique ability” to pivot its fully loaded bucket 90 degrees to either side.

“On today’s crowded jobsites, space management is vital for safety, productivity and efficiency,” said Bigwood. “Contractors are trying to fit all the equipment, vehicles and personnel they need into a very limited space, leading to congestion and sometimes dangerous conditions. Our engineers are always looking to optimize equipment utilization, providing the solutions that let operators do things that they cannot accomplish with other machines.”

The 12-ton (10,920-kg) AS1600 reportedly requires only half the space of conventional loaders for tasks such as loading trucks or discharging materials into trenches with a standard 2.1-cubic-yard (1.6-cubic-meter) bucket. The ability to swivel its bucket up to 90 degrees allows operators and site managers to approach jobs differently, impacting space management and logistics, according to Bigwood. For example, the AS1600 could take up just one lane of traffic on a road job rather than the two necessary for operating traditional loaders.

The AS1600 also provides increased stability over conventional articulated loaders, according to Mecalac. A rigid frame and automatically-engaging rear axle allow operators to pivot the bucket 90° without reducing overall stability, while other equipment can become unstable with a 45-degree turn.

Mecalac claims that the AS1600 is the only wheel loader of its class to offer a load over height of 3.40 m (11.2 ft), and a turning radius of 4.35 m (14.3 ft) across the rear – a 20% smaller footprint than competitive loaders – assists mobility in confined worksites. The AS1600 is powered by a water-cooled 100-kW Deutz turbo-diesel engine featuring common-rail injection and an electronic engine controller with intelligent link to the traction drive to optimize performance and reduce fuel consumption.

The loader features three steering options – two-wheel, four-wheel and crab. Operators can simultaneously drive, pivot and maneuver, making common tasks such as backfilling a trench easier and more efficient. Bucket capacities range from 2.1 to 3.3 cubic yards (1.6 to 2.5 cubic meters). “Every aspect of the AS1600’s design focuses on a real-world application to increase efficiency by reducing unnecessary movement and optimizing the use of space,” Bigwood said. “Each design starts with a question – how can we make this safer, faster or easier for the operators in the cab?”

Eyeing NA growth
Mecalac was not involved in the North American market until 2016, when it partnered with dealer Lorusso Heavy Equipment near Boston. In 2017, the French company acquired Terex’s line of backhoe loaders, site dumpers and compaction rollers, followed by the formation of Mecalac North America.

More recently, Mecalac opened a new 14,000-square foot facility in Norfolk, Mass., to serve as the North American headquarters and further support the growth of the brand in this market. The location centralizes the company’s administrative offices, equipment inventory, parts, and service support, and also will include an in-house training facility.

“One of our priorities is to expand our dealer network across North America,” said Bigwood. “We currently have 15 dealers and plan to grow at a measured but steady pace. We look for dealer partners who understand the construction equipment market and share our vision for reshaping how contractors work with highly differentiated, innovative products.”

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