Mini skid steers, compact articulated loaders deliver unique strengths to the jobsite

For some landscaping or tree care contractors, a mini skid steer is the ideal tool. For others, a compact articulated loader (ATX) is a perfect fit.

The machines both help contractors maximize productivity and are in many ways similar in capabilities and function. But there are differences; both have unique characteristics that, depending on jobsite working conditions, might make one a more functional option than the other. Here are a few things to consider in deciding which machine will have the greatest positive impact on your jobsite productivity and broader business.

Lift capacity

Both compact articulated loaders and mini skid steers offer major upgrades to manual work when it comes to capacity. Based on lift capacity alone, mini skid steers like the Vermeer CTX160 mini skid steer offer a lifting capacity and horsepower of up to 1,600 pounds (725.7 kg) and 40 horsepower (29.8 kW), respectively. Compact articulated loaders have comparable or larger capacity — the ATX720 has a capacity of just over 2,100 pounds (953 kg), for example — but as it grows, so do the machines’ footprints.

Vermeer mini skid steers come in a compact footprint and offer high lift capacity,” said Vermeer Product Content Manager Brett Newendorp. “You get that lift capacity and horsepower and are still able to fit through a 3- or 4-foot-wide gate, depending on the model and configuration.”

Speed and maneuverability

Compact articulated loaders are designed for speed and maneuverability. That makes units like the Vermeer ATX530 compact articulated loader an ideal choice if you work in a lot of tight spaces where the ATX’s articulated steering and telescopic boom can help you get in and out of a jobsite.

“The articulation of the ATX and the way the ground drive is set up, you can minimize turf disturbance, and you can maneuver around tight corners. And compact articulated loaders all have telescopic booms. That’s one thing most other manufacturers don’t have in similar-sized machines,” Newendorp said. “You have extended reach and can place things in areas without even needing to get the machine there. It opens up a lot of opportunity to complete jobs you wouldn’t be able to do without the telescoping boom.”

Your work style

The big difference between Vermeer mini skid steers and compact articulated loaders is the positioning of the operator. The right machine for you may be influenced by how you or the operator prefers to operate the machine on the jobsite.

“On the tree care or landscape side, it’s all about how much the operator is involved with what’s going on around the jobsite. On a mini skid steer, it’s not a seated position, and there’s no cab to get in and out of. The operator can hop on or off the machine to help with labor, move something or maybe jump in as part of the rigging crew taking down a tree. Then, when the limb’s on the ground, he or she can hop on the machine and drag it to the chipper to be chipped,” Newendorp said. “To me, an ATX is more suited to a jobsite where a contractor is going to be on that machine all day long. That makes the comfort of the seated position much more important. If you want to have an operator on the machine doing a job the entire time, like hauling limbs or unloading sod from a truck, then go on to the next jobsite to start on a similar job, a compact articulated loader might be ideal.”

Your specific needs

No two tree care or landscaping jobsites are alike. But there are definite trends in the work every contractor does based on location and type of job, whether commercial or residential, for example. Account for your specific working conditions as well as your current and projected future jobs in making the right choice. One thing is certain: both mini skid steers and compact articulated loaders can help deliver maximum productivity on the jobsite.

“Ultimately, both machines are going to help maximize productivity for tree care and landscaping contractors. Both are going to help minimize labor on the jobsite. That’s the No. 1 thing we hear all the time. Labor is a huge issue, and in many cases, these machines can overcome the challenge of finding and retaining skilled, qualified labor,” Newendorp said. “These machines show up for work every day and perform. Both machines foot the labor bill. Ask yourself, ‘How do I want to set up my jobsites to use the equipment to my best ability?’”

Vermeer Corporation and MultiOne SRL Corporation reserve the right to make changes in engineering, design and specifications; add improvements; or discontinue manufacturing at any time without notice or obligation. Equipment shown is for illustrative purposes only and may display optional accessories or components specific to their global region. Mini skid steer attachments available from Vermeer dealers may be manufactured by Vermeer Corporation or other attachment manufacturers. Please contact your local Vermeer dealer for more information on machine specifications and attachments.

Vermeer and the Vermeer logo are trademarks of Vermeer Manufacturing Company in the U.S. and/or other countries. © 2021 Vermeer Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

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