Reviews

Test: Avant 528 articulated telescopic loader

Not since the invention of the four-in-one bucket has there been a piece of equipment able to perform so many tasks. And a four-in-one bucket is just one of a hundred or so attachments custom made to fit on an Avant machine.

In fact, there are so many individual attachments for the machine it would be too confusing to try to mention more than a handful at a time.

The machine has applications in six major categories. Namely:

  • buckets and material handling
  • property maintenance
  • ground care
  • landscaping
  • digging and construction
  • farming

With so many varied applications in so many diverse sectors, Avant agents Glenbrook Machinery of Pukekohe arranged a test on an Avant 528 at a nearby horse stable, the owners of which had recently purchased the machine, along with a four-in-one bucket, a general bucket, a pallet fork, a rotary broom with collector box and several augers of varying sizes.

I spoke with landscape manager James White, whose decision it was to purchase an Avant machine in preference to an excavator, an item that had been previously considered.

One of the major reasons behind the decision was that the Avant 528 has a top speed of 12km/h. White says that with around two hundred acres of property to work, it was important to him to be able to get a machine to the furthest corner of the property as quickly as possible without putting it on a trailer.

He says that after a period of trialling the unit it very quickly became apparent that with such a variety of attachments available for the machine, all of which can be changed in a matter of minutes, it made total sense to purchase the Avant.

When asked how a typical day’s work for the machine would pan out, White says it was possible for him or one of his operators to be working the machine inside a barn or stable using the general bucket to scoop up all types of residue at the beginning of the day.

By mid-morning the machine would have been finishing the job off with the boxed sweeper, then after fitting forks to the machine it could be delivering palletised goods to another part of the farm and stacking it in racking, in between taking a few moments to fit one of the purpose-built augers to plant a tree or two.

After lunch, the four-in-one bucket could have been attached and the machine would happily spend the rest of the day loading and levelling basecourse. The Avant 528, he says, took it all in its stride.

White says both the owners and he were extremely happy with their purchase and the service they receive from Glenbrook Machinery. He also says they would possibly add some more attachments to their inventory in the future.

The Avant 528 is a mid-range machine from the 500 series, however the range starts from the 200 series and goes right up to the 700 series.

Avant articulated telescopic loaders are hydrostatically driven, allowing the operator to change from a forward motion to reverse simply by removing his or her foot from the right-side pedal and applying pressure to the pedal beside it, thus reversing the machine.

I found the machine very easy to learn to use, even though I restricted myself to changing a couple of attachments and operating it with the four-in-one bucket attached. Having said that, realistically I would have needed a day or two on the job to become proficient in operating the unit.

One of the machine’s many features I found to be of immediate benefit on taking the controls was the telescopic boom. This function allows the operator to extend the reach by a further 600mm at the push of a lever.

The benefits of this are that a load may be carried close to the machine’s natural centre of gravity while travelling with the load but allowing a greater lift in a situation such as having to clear high-sided trucks and trailers.

The maximum height gained by using this function is almost 2.8 metres.

I found there was ample room in the cab, although it’s fair to say I’m no giant. However somebody three times my size would be totally comfortable in the operator’s seat, which is heated I might add.

Avant loaders come with four different cab options. The one I tested was fitted with the standard ROPS safety frame with a tinted plexiglass canopy.

The operator position is ideal as it’s in the front portion of the machine and the seat is as close to the attachment as it can possibly be, giving the operator an unrestricted view.

It only took between two and three minutes to change from the pallet-fork attachment to the four-in-one bucket. This process was aided by a specially-designed multi connector.

This innovation required an effortless, single hand movement to automatically release the pressure and not a single drop of hydraulic fluid was spilt.

I felt myself wishing these machines were around twenty years ago, for if they were I possibly could have purchased one with the money I’ve spent over the years for treatment of a bad back as the result of many hours peering over the hood of a front end loader and twisting to operate a grader blade attached to the rear of the machine.

For more information contact Glenbrook Machinery Co on (09) 238 6955 or 021 228 3833. Visit glenbrookmachinery.co.nz or drop in to 8 Nelson Street, Pukekohe

Specifications

Avant 528

Length

2550mm

Width

1095mm

Height

1980mm

Weight with 4-in-1 bucket

1320kg

Transmission drive

Hydrostatic

Pulling force

950kp

Drive speed

12km/h

Turning radius inside/outside

995/2050

Max lifting capacity (hydr.)

1500kg

Tipping load

950kg

Max breakout force / 50cm

1250kg

Engine make and type

Kubota D1105

Engine output (ISO Gross)

21kW (28hp)

Fuel

Diesel

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Photography: Lyndsay Whittle

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