The Productive Excavator Partner
Eric Pulley, Paladin Construction Group
Add a quick coupler to an excavator and turn it into a multitasking, time saving advantage. Contractors want them light, yet robust, fast and easy to engage with attachments—at the same time providing top safety features to ensure that their high-dollar equipment investments and workers are safe. Our newest excavator partner, the JRB VersaLoc® quick coupler, provides three safety advantages while offering the lowest offset in the industry. This coupler did not evolve overnight though. Since 1988, JRB has pioneered the manufacturing of excavator couplers through ongoing design enhancements in the key areas of safety, speed, reliability, versatility and cost.
Couplers Were not Always Popular
When JRB started manufacturing excavator couplers, contractors were still trying to grasp the concept. A contractor’s only coupler choice was a dedicated pin spacing coupler that attached to one particular pin diameter and pin spread, or the center line of one pin to the center line of the other. This was great for picking up similar types of attachments or multiple attachments within a brand, which often worked well because many contractors were still dedicated to one or two main brands.
JRB’s dedicated pin spacing coupler evolution began…
1988 – CamLoc®: The locking mechanism rotates on a cam-like device to grab and lock around the link pin. Contractors can stay in the cab and switch between multiple attachments without having to manually knock out or align pins.
1993 – SlideLoc®: A linear wedge slides into a groove underneath the link pin for a tighter, safer hold. Contractors that switch out attachments semi-regularly find it very effective, while those that rarely change attachments find it can get stuck over time.
1996 – PinLoc®: It also uses a wedge that secures to the link pin, but it requires manual placement of a pin to prevent the wedge from getting stuck, providing the same tight hold without the need to retract the coupler regularly. This is still available today.
1996 – SmartLoc®: For contractors that do not want to get out of the cab, this is the ideal mesh of safety and convenience. Using the same wedge system, it has a spring-loaded arm that requires the contractor to curl the coupler up and make contact with the excavator stick. The mechanical arm pivots around a spring-loaded axle and secures the coupler until the operator unlocks it by pushing a button in the cab. This is also still available today.
Improving Coupler Compatibility
As couplers became more popular, contractors wanted more versatility. Along came the modern day multi-pin grabber coupler, which has a pivoting jaw on the rear end that adjusts to any pin diameter, ear spread and pin spread within a specific class. Every manufacturer’s coupler has different measurements, so this makes it easier for a contractor to find a wide array of compatible attachments.
JRB is leading the way in multi-pin grabber couplers…
2002 – RotoLoc®: A pivoting rear jaw locks hydraulically by utilizing a cam-like device that goes over the stick pin. A gravity lock comes down in front of the stick pin and prevents the cylinder pivot from retracting. This lock also keeps the attachment from falling off should something happen to the rear lock arrangement.
New JRB VersaLoc Combines Safety & Versatility
Today, safety is the top concern contractors have about couplers, so in 2009, JRB developed the VersaLoc to put those concerns to rest.
The multi-pin grabber coupler has three safety locking mechanisms:
- Slide wedge style lock that captures the link pin, which is locked with a pilot operated check valve that locks the cylinder so it cannot retract if hydraulic pressure is lost.
- Redundant (two) pivoting locking arms that pivot from side to side and into place to prevent the wedge from retracting.
- Spring-loaded detent lock for the stick pin and link pin for redundant locking in the front and back. This virtually eliminates accidental retraction in the case of operator error.
The JRB VersaLoc offers the lowest offset in the industry, with the least amount of distance from the new pin location from its original pinpoint. This ensures that the contractor will achieve maximum lifting strength and range of motion with every attachment.
Guaranteed Accident Prevention
JRB’s quick couplers are the safest in the industry. But no matter what coupler you use, here are a few safety tips that – if followed – will virtually eliminate all accidents:
- Never touch the switch or control buttons to lock or unlock the coupler until the attachment and coupler is fully curled.
- Never lift or connect any attachment from any other point except the lift eye.
- Perform a ground test every time you connect an attachment:
- With the excavator stick in the vertical position, lift the attachment 10 - 15 cm off the ground in a safe, clear area. With mid to high RPMs on the engine, try to uncurl the attachment and push the stick out at the same time. If the attachment stays attached, an accident will not occur.
- Ensure that the control box is located where the operator can see the appropriate lights and hear the buzzer at all times.
- Anytime maintenance is performed on the hydraulic hoses or cylinder, or when you attach a new coupler, lock and unlock the hydraulic cylinder 25-30 times without an attachment to ensure it works properly.
Inspect your coupler and attachments every day for obstructions (rocks, sticks, etc.) or fatigue, cracking and welding issues.
JRB regularly offers safety training through its qualified dealer network free of charge. Operators, ground people, supervisors, parts staff and mechanics can all use these classes to prevent accidents before they happen.
Providing The Ideal Excavator
As a leading manufacturer of high-quality quick couplers and attachments for construction, utility, demolition, government, military and related markets since 1983, JRB knows how to get the most out of excavators. Its CustomWorks operations in Davenport, IA; Chattanooga, TN; and Kernersville, FL, are structured to provide its manufacturing partners with a fast, cost-effective way to meet the production goals of the contractor with the addition of a coupler. These facilities customize excavators according to specific dealer/manufacturer requests so they ship fully equipped with the coupler and attachment(s) ready to work.
The Future Of Couplers
After recently becoming part of Paladin Construction Group, JRB now has the financial backing, support and more than 25 years of engineering experience to continue manufacturing the safest, most versatile quick couplers available. JRB will soon introduce an excavator coupler with hydraulic controls integrated into the coupler cylinder, which will reduce install time, ease of install and increase reliability.