JCB 3CX - has it got a future?
- 28 Oct, 2017
What is a JCB 3CX?
Before I dive too deep into my thoughts on this matter, we should perhaps make clear that we are not exactly talking just about the JCB 3CX and it's big brother the 4CX, but rather about backhoe loaders in general.
Backhoe loaders were first produced in the UK by JCB way back in 1953, which is why they are so often referred to by this name. Case were also developing a similar machine which they brought to market in the US in 1957.
The backhoe loader is essentially a 4 wheeled digger, with an arm at the rear (the backhoe) and a 4-in-1 bucket at the front - the loader part, hence the name backhoe loader.
The JCB 3CX was an innovative leap forward for the construction industry when it came to market, as it was an extremely versatile tool that could dig holes and trenches as well as heap up stone, load trucks and more!
And indeed, it still is a versatile machine on the building site, so why are we seeing less and less backhoe loaders on building sites across the UK?
The space issue...
No this doesn't have to do with a mission to Mars! The real reason for the backhoe loaders descent from popularity is primarily due to the fact that the UK is becoming more urbanised and built up.
When the JCB 3CX was first introduced building sites and properties in general were generally larger and more spacious. Backhoe loaders were large pieces of equipment, but they were able to be functional due to there being more available space.
But big increases in the population of the UK over the past 65 years has reduced this available space on building sites. To put this in perspective, the UK population in 1950 (when the JCB 3CX was introduced) was approx 50 million. The UK population today is approx 63 million and rising! This has necessitated a considerable increase in the density of housing and buildings in general.
The machine control factor...
There is another factor at play here as well - welcome machine control and intelligent construction machinery.
In the last 5 years, there has been an explosive growth in the use of excavators and dozers equipped with machine control.
Essentially this means that a site is mapped using drones and other equipment to create a digital map of a site. This information is then fed back into equipment within the digger which allows it to execute the plan in the most efficient manner, without removing excess soil etc.
The blunt facts are that backhoe loaders are not the right machine for this type of work, and as a result, work on sites is increasingly being done my equipment suited exactly to the type of operation in question.
So is the JCB 3CX here to stay?
This is difficult to answer, but all we would say is that even JCB have recognized a shift in the market, by bringing out more compact versions of its once popular workhorse.
Other manufacturers including JCB, Volvo, Hitachi, Takeuchi and more have also brought more compact wheeled excavators to the market to bridge the gap between wheeled excavators, and backhoe loaders.
It is interesting to note that other markets - i.e. Europe don't hardly use backhoe loaders at all. Instead they tend to use wheeled loaders (compact loading shovels) and/or excavators depending on the job in hand.
In some ways the UK market is moving more towards this concept.
So whilst we don't think the backhoe loader will ever disappear, its use is increasingly diminishing in the UK market.
We trust you find this article informative, and as always we love feedback from the market, so please feel free to email us your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and put it for the attention of the Marketing Team!