The Avant 500 series loaders featured at Conexpo/IFPE are a great alternative to traditional skid steer loaders, according to the company, with increased maneuverability and versatility while still providing a range of tools for various tasks. As an added plus, the Avant loaders can operate on sensitive surfaces without causing excessive damage, unlike skid steer loaders. Also, tire wear is much lower. The product has excellent lifting capacities for a loader its size and offers a telescopic boom as standard.
Of key importance to machine performance is the machine’s straightforward but powerful Optidrive hydraulic system. The loader’s drive system consists of a variable-displacement hydraulic pump, four hydraulic drive motors and valves which are connected together with hydraulic hoses and fittings.
Drive power is conveyed from the engine and pump to four separate hydraulic drive motors, one on each wheel of the loader — instead of relying on mechanical axles. Avant is said to be the first manufacturer to design and use such a system in a compact loader. This system has proven to be quite effective, offering lots of pushing power in a compact design while maintaining an extremely low center of gravity.
A problem in the past was that when hydraulic oil flows at high flow rate in the drive circuit — in hydraulic hoses, fittings, motors and valves — the resistance in these components heats the oil. That means a portion of the engine output is wasted. This also results in higher fuel consumption and less engine power available for the actual job.
In the Optidrive system, the number of hydraulic hoses and fittings have been radically reduced and optimized. Reported benefits include:
• 10% better performance. Optidrive reduces power loss in the system by up to 1.5 kW which is roughly 10% of the total power used in the drive circuit.
• 60% fewer hydraulic connections. There are far fewer 90° angle fittings and T-junction fittings which are less optimal for hydraulic flow.
• 20% fewer hoses. Several valves are mounted together on one hydraulic block.
• Less heat build-up. In Optidrive, the amount of flushing oil in the drive motors is five times greater compared to the previous system, providing a far better cooling of the drive circuit.
• Less engine vibrations and noise. The Optidrive has also an effect on the weight and balance of the engine and pump assembly on the loader. The altered weight distribution also leads to developing new engine mounts (vibration dampers) that are optimized to the new load and balance of the assembly. This optimization results in reducing the total vibrations of the loaders. This is especially notable in the noise level inside the cab.
• Better hydraulic connector system. The Optidrive has Parker EO3 fittings in all of the high pressure hoses and fittings. This new system has a dial on the fitting which shows clearly the required torque to which the fitting shall be tightened. Also less hose and fittings means less possibility of a hydraulic leak.
• Better servicing. Fewer hydraulic connections, the new fitting system and more space to work with in the engine bay and front hydraulic motors area all provide a better servicing experience. The Optidrive has a centralized valve system which collects all drive circuit valving into one valve block located in the front frame of the machine.