Manitou joins the telescopic pivot-steer club
By Andrew Faulkner
WHEN JCB joined Matbro and Sanderson in the telescopic pivot-steer market earlier this year Manitou became the only "Big Four" materials handler manufacturer with no comparable machine in its line-up. But that is about to change.
At an exclusive demonstration, held in Surrey last week, farmers weekly was the first magazine to get a look at the French manufacturers new pivot-steer, the MLA 627. The machine will make its public debut at Smithfield FarmTech, Earls Court, later this month (Nov 26-28).
So why this move into pivot steers by Manitou, which has built its rough terrain reputation on masted forklifts and side-cabbed telescopics – a bigger market by some margin?
The companys Chris Morley explains: "Articulated machines may only account for about 25% of the 2000-2500 total agricultural market for telescopics in the UK. But many of the users of these machines are very loyal to the centre cab/pivot steer concept. We felt we could not ignore that customer preference, which is very strong on many farms in the livestock and mixed farming regions."
When designing the MLA 627 Manitou claims to have majored on two areas, all-round vision and operator comfort.
Visibility from the centrally-mounted cab to both sides of the machine is enhanced by the use of deep windows, while the rear lighting brackets – the rearmost part of the machine – can also be clearly seen from the operators seat. But it is awkward forward vision that is the criticism most commonly directed at pivot steer machines. Here Manitou has lowered the boom mounting position so that the main hinge point is hidden from the operators line of vision by the dashboard. When the boom is lowered, the operator looks over the dash and straight along the boom to the fork/bucket, rather than at a big boom tower rising out of the centre of the machine.
Inside the twin-doored cab all loader controls are operated using a single armrest-mounted joystick which is linked to a servo-assisted hydraulic system. Moving the lever fore/aft and left/right gives boom raise/lower and attachment crowd/tilt. Two pairs of buttons on top of the joystick give electro-hydraulic operation of boom in/out and an auxiliary service.
In front of the operator, a split-level dashboard accommodates safe-load indicator, warning lights, and extra lighting controls while on either side of the steering column are mounted a twist-grip powershift lever and the main lighting/indicator stalk.
Uncluttered floor space
A brake/inching pedal and an accelerator are the only intrusions into an otherwise uncluttered floor space.
Power for the MLA 627 is supplied by the same 106hp Perkins 1000 series unit fitted to Manitous mainstream agricultural telescopic, the rigid chassis 626 (see table). But unlike the 626, which is fitted with a conventional shuttle gearbox, the 627 is fitted with a 4F/3R powershift transmission for on-the-move shifts up and down the box and changes in direction.
Manitou says MLA prices have not yet been agreed, though they are likely to start from about £40,000. Options will include a choice of attachment frame, tyre specification, pick-up hitch and air conditioning. *
Lift capacity (t)2.62.7
Lift height (m/ft)5.81/19.05.50/18.0
Forward reach (m/ft)3.35/11.03.23/10.6
Machine height (m/ft)2.35/7.72.64/8.7
Machine width (m/ft)2.20/7.22.20/7.2
Price from (£)35,00040,000
TheManitou MLA 627 is the French firms first pivot-steer telescopic loader. It will be competing in a sector currently dominated by Matbros TR250 and Sandersons GX525.