A tiltrotator is a hydraulic attachment between the arm and bucket of an excavator or backhoe loader. As the name implies, it permits the operator to tilt the bucket side-to-side and rotate on its axis, much like a human wrist. The device provides an excavator with more versatility and lets the operator perform more tasks by simply angling the attachment, without needing to constantly reposition the machine.
It is suited for uses ranging from cleaning ditches and digging beveled trenches to precisely positioning hydraulic-powered tools like cutters and hammers.
According to tiltrotator manufacturer Steelwrist, a Swedish company with U.S. headquarters in Berlin, Conn., the more complicated the job, the higher the productivity when using the product. The company says experienced operators usually see productivity improvements of between 20 and 35%, depending on the type of job. The units are widely used in many European countries. In Sweden, for example, Steelwrist claims over 90% of all excavators between 3 and 30 tons in size are now equipped with a tiltrotator
Steelwrist’s tiltrotators come in nine versions, the smallest for machines in the 2 to 4 ton range up to the largest for those in the 25 to 33 ton class. All have a 45° tilt angle, with vertical tilt cylinders that allow digging in narrow trenches. Load-holding valves on the tilt cylinders are an available option.
The high-flow swivel reportedly makes the unit more efficient to use. Required hydraulic flow is from 20 to 40 lpm in the smallest units up to 60 to 80 lpm in the largest. Maximum pressure for all versions is 210 bar (3,045 psi). Tilt force ranges from 10.6 to 73.0 kNm (7,818 to 53,842 ft-lb) and rotation force is from 3.9 to 9.8 kNm (2,876 to 7,228 ft-lb).
The swivel can also include an electrical connection for control of valves on the work tool below the tiltrotator. Likewise, central lubrication can also be automatically connected from the tiltrotator to the attached work tool.
A gripper integrated into the design further increases productivity, according to company officials. Steelwrist is said to be the only supplier with a four-finger gripper, offering increased safety when handling objects. The gripper opens wide, closes almost entirely, has robust cylinder covers and does not interfere with excavation.
Steelwrist also offers tool couplers with Front Pin Lock (FPL), to help prevent misconnections. FPL lets operators clearly see when the tool is in the proper position. A positive lock indicator shows green when the tool is in a safe position, while red indicates the coupler is open. FPL ensures the tool cannot be dropped as long as the front pin is securely connected. And because the coupler has check valves, springs and FPL, the unit meets ISO 13031 safety requirements.
The tiltrotators can also be fitted with the company’s OQ-coupler bottom when work requires frequent tool changes. It lets operators change tools, in seconds, without leaving the cabin. The full hydraulic couplers also use FPL technology, to maintain high safety levels.
Steelwrist work tools include grading, digging, cable and utility buckets; as well as rippers, pallet forks, asphalt cutters and grading beams. Powered work tools include a range of screening buckets, compactors, multi- and wood grapples, and stone and sorting grapples.