Game changer

JCB Hy­dradig 110W tool-car­rier

Farms & Farm Machinery - - Contents -

There are some days dur­ing this pe­riod of my life of semire­tire­ment that I wake up and just have to pinch my­self and ask, “Is this real?”

I just hap­pened to have one of those days re­cently when I got the phone call from Dave the Ed­i­tor ask­ing me if I could have a play with the just-re­leased JCB Hy­dradig 110W rub­ber-tyred ex­ca­va­tor be­fore it headed off to a happy new owner (one of many fight­ing to pur­chase one).

Now I’ve spent 45 years buy­ing, op­er­at­ing and spe­cial­is­ing in ex­ca­va­tors and you will have to look far and wide to find some­one with more pas­sion for these ma­chines.

But I have to ad­mit that I’ve long had a to­tal dis­like for rub­ber­tyred ex­ca­va­tors.

My opin­ion has al­ways been that they are just a to­ken ges­ture to ap­pease a small num­ber of ‘back­hoe-lovin’ loonies’ who refuse to let go of the back­hoe im­age.

How­ever, JCB has proven to me be­fore that the in­dus­try has changed sig­nif­i­cantly and that its engi­neers are al­ways lis­ten­ing to operators’.

JCB just hap­pens to be one of my most favourite heavy ma­chin­ery man­u­fac­tur­ers. The com­pany al­ways comes up with some­thing in­no­va­tive, ver­sa­tile and to­tally out of the box, and from what I could see this new dig­ging, lift­ing, tool-car­ry­ing Hy­dradig ticks them all.

So, I fig­ured, they have changed my thoughts a cou­ple of times be­fore so maybe this is an­other game-changer. No need to ask me twice!


Now as I said, the JCB Hy­dradig is a su­per-ver­sa­tile 11.2-tonne wheeled ex­ca­va­tor which can be used as a dig­ging, lift­ing, tool-car­ry­ing ma­chine suited to a wide range of ap­pli­ca­tions, from gen­eral con­struc­tion to util­i­ties, high­ways, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and land­scap­ing.

It runs an 81kW (109hp) JCB T4F EcoMax 444 diesel en­gine (code­signed and built by Cos­worth), and comes with a 0.31-cu­bicme­tre bucket.

JCB has de­signed it with a bal­anced 50/50 weight dis­tri­bu­tion front to rear, which re­moves that ‘nod and pitch’ so typ­i­cal of any rub­ber-tyred, road-go­ing item of plant.

Hav­ing been pur­posely de­signed and built from the ground up, the Hy­dradig’s ‘firsts’ just keep jump­ing out at you.

First thing I no­ticed about the ex­ca­va­tor is that the en­gine, tanks and an­cil­lar­ies are mounted in the chas­sis in­stead of in the up­per struc­ture.

This cre­ates a lower point of grav­ity and su­per-im­pres­sive vis­ual lines both from the ground and, more im­por­tantly, from the op­er­a­tor’s cabin.

Safety in con­struc­tion is para­mount, and if you can de­sign a safety prob­lem out of the equa­tion, then do it.

Be­cause the engi­neers at JCB in the UK have looked out­side the square and moved the en­gine out of the up­per body­work, there is no re­quire­ment for ad­di­tional handrails, mir­rors or a rear-view cam­era.

Now that’s a first in my opin­ion. Bril­liant!

This ad­vanced ver­sion of an in­te­grated tool car­rier has the added ben­e­fit of a safe work­ing load (SWL) of 1000kg at full ex­ten­sion (should you be look­ing at a crane or fork­lift op­er­a­tion), can get from job to job or across site at a healthy 45km/h, and has a bril­liant 4m turn­ing ra­dius.

Head into digger mode and the op­tional hy­draulic at­tach­ments and buck­ets are end­less.

The Hy­dradig 110W comes standard with a 600mm-wide JCBde­signed bucket, JCB quick-hitch and sev­eral auxiliary hy­draulic lines of vary­ing di­am­e­ters fit­ted within easy reach on the dip­per arm, and an op­tional at­tach­ment list as long as your arm.

You are go­ing to be a very dif­fi­cult-to-please cus­tomer if you can’t be sat­is­fied with this one.


As I set­tled in to the well-de­signed and well-laid-out cabin I re­alised just how good that panoramic view is. It gives a clear line of sight to all four tyres as well as a full 360-de­gree view and 1m of vi­sion at ground level. Add the close-ra­dius rear tail wing of just 120mm and, well, you know you have some­thing pretty special here.

Adding to the awe­some­ness is a 7-inch mon­i­tor, fully ad­justable steer­ing col­umn, ro­tary con­trol hand throt­tle (and foot), me­chan­i­cal sus­pen­sion seat, 12V power socket, ra­dio, sun­blind, and cli­mate con­trol air-con­di­tion­ing.

The coded lock­out ig­ni­tion sys­tem re­duces theft op­por­tu­ni­ties and the multi-func­tional hand lever con­trols and dash lay­out make this one lovely lit­tle ma­chine to op­er­ate.

With the abil­ity to flick from ex­ca­va­tor to back­hoe mode for side dig­ging and to flick to travel for­ward and re­verse, and with a com­bi­na­tion of but­tons and switches in easy fin­ger-tip reach to con­trol the rest of the ma­chine op­er­a­tion, the op­er­a­tor is re­ally ‘King off the Road’ with this one.


This demon­stra­tion/test run had to be car­ried out in JCB Con­struc­tion Equip­ment Aus­tralia’s Bris­bane yard in pretty wet con­di­tions, so we could not give it a to­tal work-out and get down and dirty with it – as much as I wanted to!

That said, we had a pretty good run with it, and were able to get an idea of this in­no­va­tive ma­chine’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

The three-piece boom and dip­per on our Hy­dradig ex­tended al­most vertical for a max­i­mum dig­ging reach of up to 8m, and down to a max dig­ging depth of up to 4.4m.

The well-po­si­tioned front blade is suit­ably de­signed for good op­er­a­tor vi­sion.

It acts not only as a weapon of choice when deal­ing with that loose on-site ma­te­rial clean up, but also as a per­fect sta­bil­is­ing tool for crane lift­ing, dig­ging and park­ing up on those pesky steep lo­ca­tions.

The Hy­dradig has 2WD, 4WD and crab-steer op­tions as standard, en­sur­ing an eas­ier, more com­fort­able feel when work­ing the ‘tights on sites’, but what is new is the re­verse-steer op­tion where the op­er­a­tor can change the back of the ma­chine to the front if so de­sired.

Hav­ing 9.00/20 ‘du­al­lies’ front and rear, as well as wellde­signed sta­bilis­ers, en­able the op­er­a­tor to push the bound­aries of side sta­bil­ity to the lim­its and still keep within the man­u­fac­turer’s guide­lines.

The steer­ing op­tions avail­able on the Hy­dradig make it a great ma­chine for those con­fined workspaces in metro job­sites, and the step­less hy­dro­static trans­mis­sion en­sures max­i­mum trac­tion and ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity on tough ter­rains.

If you have to run the night shift (you lucky bug­ger), don’t worry about eye strain as this ma­chine has low-level glass, those ex­cel­lent lev­els of sight and op­tional LED work lights. The two lights on the boom, two on the cab front, two at­tached to the cab rear and two side-fit­ted (halo­gen) lights turn night into day at the click of a switch.

A sure-to-win-ap­proval de­sign in­cor­po­rated into the new

JCB Hy­dradig is that all daily ser­vice checks and reg­u­lar main­te­nance can be safely car­ried out from ground level, with a lift-up canopy pro­vid­ing ex­cel­lent ac­cess to the en­gine and fil­ters, fuel and radiators.

An­other tick for JCB as this re­duces down­time and im­proves on-site safety as there is no work­ing-at-height re­quire­ment.


One good thing about JCB (CEA) that I am al­ways ex­tremely grate­ful for is that they give us the op­por­tu­nity to test run and re­view ev­ery sin­gle new ma­chine that comes onto the mar­ket with­out ques­tion – a sure sign of con­fi­dence in the end prod­uct.

4. The well-po­si­tioned front blade helps with ma­te­rial clean up and acts as a sta­bil­is­ing tool

5. Cabin lay­out and vis­i­bil­ity are ex­cel­lent 6. There’s a full 360-de­gree view from the

cab, with 1m of vi­sion at ground level

And their knowl­edge­able and friendly team is al­ways there to give us as­sis­tance and guid­ance when or should we need it.

For this test, JCB opened up specif­i­cally on a Satur­day so we could re­view this ma­chine due to the fact that un­usual win­ter rains had hit us and pre­vented our mid-week view­ing.

While do­ing this test, I spoke to a prospec­tive buyer who told me he had sev­eral ‘rub­ber duck­ies’ of dif­fer­ent makes in his fleet. He said he had had to im­port them him­self from over­seas and that the lo­cal dis­trib­u­tors had as­sisted in ser­vic­ing and re­pairs but, as this wasn’t an ideal sit­u­a­tion, he was keen to see that JCB was im­port­ing and dis­tribut­ing the Hy­dradig here.

“I am look­ing for a one-stop-shop, Ron, and this Hy­dradig deal from JCB CEA suits my ap­pli­ca­tion to a tee,” he told me.

JCB has once again ticked so many boxes. The op­po­si­tion had bet­ter get a good pair of run­ning shoes on if they want to catch JCB on this one. The Hy­dradig 110W gets ‘two thumbs up’.

1. The JCB Hy­dradig 110W rub­ber-tyred

ex­ca­va­tor in back­hoe mode

2. The Hy­dradig can lift 1000kg at full

ex­ten­sion in crane mode

3. In­no­va­tive de­sign has put the Hy­dradig’s en­gine, tanks and an­cil­lar­ies in the chas­sis in­stead of in the up­per struc­ture

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