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Front End Loader

Operating Heavy Equipment is an Excellent Career Choice

Front End Loader
Trenna Sue Hiler's image for:
"Operating Heavy Equipment is an Excellent Career Choice"
Caption: Front End Loader
Image by: Trenna Hiler

Reading an article certainly won't give anyone the qualifications needed to operate and front-end loader. It will map out some of the skills needed and explain a bit about the process and safety concerns.

An owners manual on a front-end loader is priceless information. Each brand has unique features and even experienced operators will read through the manual before climbing into a different machine. This is heavy machinery and has the potential to be in a dangerous situation quickly.

Before getting in and starting the machine the operator will do a visual inspection of all the grease points on the machine. These are where the movable parts are and it is easy to spot if there is an issue that needs to be taken care of before starting the front-end loader.

Front-end loaders are designed with the pivot point in the center of the machine. The front and the back of the loader move independently. The sensation of turning can be hard to adjust to at first. Since you are always facing forward and in the direction of the bucket or forks, there is not a real sensation of turning. It takes practice to become aware of the pivoting action and turning separate parts of the machine.

There are a myriad of buttons on most loaders now. Most have automatic transmission and most have an option to turn it back to manual transmission as well. Although they have four gears most operators use only 1st and 2nd unless they are transporting the machine down a paved road.

There are two hydraulic levers that control the forks or the bucket. One lever controls the vertical motion of bring the forks or bucket up and down. One lever controls the tilt and angle of the forks and bucket. The operator needs enough gross motor skills to handle both levers with one hand to accomplish the task. Learning to manipulate these tools doesn't happen over night. Most loader operators in training forget to raise the bucket or forks high enough and run them into something.

It is important to remember that sitting up high doesn't mean you can see everything. There are blind spots and hitting something with a front-end loader can have drastic consequences. If the back up alarm is not working the machine in broken and can not be driven. It's a rule. The odds are just too high that someone will be injured.

Competent front-end loader drivers are becoming harder to find as manual labor is not the first choice of many up and coming high school graduates. However it is a great skill to fall back on and in many areas offer a good wage.

More about this author: Trenna Sue Hiler

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