JCB Celebrates 40 Years of Making Loadall Telehandlers

On October 17, JCB celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Loadall telescopic handler.

Launched on Oct. 20, 1977, the new Loadall telescopic-boom handler mechanized lifting and loading tasks on building sites that were usually carried out by a small team of men.

The potential for the Loadall in agriculture was also quickly harnessed, and the machine went on to revolutionize material handling on farms, where it often replaced rudimentary tractor-mounted hydraulic loaders for stacking bales, loading muck, and shoveling grain.

JCB has sold more than 220,000 Loadalls to date, generating more than £7 billion ($9.24 billion) in sales - £4.5 billion ($5.94) of which has been from exports.

Today, daily production of JCB telehandlers at the company's world HQ in Staffordshire, England, is currently the highest since the launch, with one Loadall rolling off JCB’s Rocester production line every six minutes. JCB expects 2017's Loadall production to exceed 2016's total by 25%. The business making the machines employs more than 1,200 people.

“When we launched the Loadall in 1977, we sold just 64 machines that year, but we were very confident that the telescopic handler would grow in popularity simply because it made jobs so much easier on construction sites and on farms,” said JCB Chairman Lord Bamford. “The concept soon took off, and the faith we put in the telescopic handler four decades ago has been repaid. It’s wonderful to celebrate 40 years of success of the Loadall with production hitting historic levels."

Eddie Finney, 59, of Rocester, is a team leader in Loadall. “I started my JCB career in 1976 in the machine shop, but the following year I transferred and started working on the Loadall assembly line,” Finney said. “At the time, there were only four Loadalls coming off the line every day. I can’t believe the volume we have now achieved 40 years later.”

Kevin Holley, 60, of Uttoxeter, runs a laser machine in the Loadall fabrication shop. “I joined JCB in 1978, working on a gas cutter for several types of machine,” Holley said. “I then became a gas profile cutter for the Loadall division. At that time, with only four a day coming off the line, Loadall was thought to be the poor relation because it wasn’t as busy as backhoe. But I could see the potential straight away. It did amazing things and nobody else had anything like it.”

Keith Weston, 61, of Marston Montgomery, near Rocester, has worked in maintenance at JCB since 1973. “I have been on general manufacturing maintenance for most of my career, but I was responsible for shot blasting and painting on the Loadall assembly line in the 1980s,” Weston said. “In the early days, I never realized Loadall would reach the volume of sales that it has. I have been proud to work on it.”

It took almost 30 years for JCB to sell the first 100,000 Loadalls. It took less than 10 years to sell the next 100,000–a testament to the growing importance of the product and JCB’s strength in the sector. JCB says that more than one in  three telescopic handlers sold worldwide is now a JCB.

JCB Loadall facts:

There are 34 base models and over 1,000 individual configurations.

Welding during Loadall manufacture consumes more than 14.5 million meters (15.9 million yards) of wire per year.

Each Loadall takes about 35 stages to produce and 8 hours to assemble.

Loadall manufacture uses more than 35,000 tonnes (38,581 tons) of steel a year.

A recent £1 million ($1.32 million) investment brought new precision laser and plasma cutting equipment.

A 650-tonne (717-ton) steel press forms the telescopic boom box sections.

On average, it takes 45 minutes to make two sides of the heavy-duty chassis.

Robots handle 70% of chassis welds–but skilled operators tackle the hard-to-access ones.

Preparing and painting booms, chassis, and stabilizers (on construction models) takes two hours.

The painting facility uses 73,000 liters (19,285 gallons) of primer and 50,000 liters (13,209 gallons) of gloss paint per year.

Every Loadall spends 13 minutes at full speed in a roller test booth to calibrate the drive line.

Every Loadall must hold a test weight with the boom fully raised and extended for 10 minutes.