By Daniel Gleeson
January 18, 2022 - Liebherr is modernizing the three largest wheel loaders in its series, the L 550, L 566 and L 580 models, with, among other things, increasing the tip load, bucket sizes and engine power.
The wheel loaders also feature a new electrohydraulic pilot control; a technology that forms the basis for various intelligent features to increase safety and productivity during daily use.
Liebherr has been offering a series of wheel loaders tailored to markets outside of Europe and North America since 2010. The L 550, L 566 and L 580 come with tip loads of 12.4 t, 15.9 t and 19 t, respectively, while the three boast 3.4 cu.m, 4.2 cu.m and 5.2 cu.m bucket capacities.
Liebherr has developed the three new models at the Bischofshofen plant, its long-standing Centre of Excellence for Wheel Loaders. Decades of experience in designing wheel loaders was one of the keys to success in the development process, according to Wolfgang Rottensteiner, Liebherr-Werk Bischofshofen GmbH Wheel Loader Series Head of Sales.
“We also analyzed our international customers’ demanding wheel loader operations over a long period,” he said. “This included observing different mining operations around the world, some in Africa and South America, coal handling in India and timber work in Russia. Our customers’ experiences were crucial to the development of the new wheel loader series.”
The new L 550, L 566 and L 580 wheel loaders feature the hydrostatic Liebherr travel drive, which, the company says, is renowned for its great efficiency. Thanks to increases in engine power – approximately 17% for the L 550 – the travel drive is even more powerful while maintaining the same fuel consumption. This is advantageous when accelerating or penetrating material and lowers fleet fuel costs, according to the company. Liebherr has installed the diesel engine in the rear, where it also acts as a counterweight, thereby increasing the tip load for the wheel loaders.
Liebherr has three lift arm versions on offer for the new models. First, the z-bar kinematics, which come to the fore particularly in the lower lifting range and for the break-out force. Secondly, the industrial kinematics, which have been designed for working with heavy working tools such as high dump buckets and log grapplers. Finally, there are the High Lift arms – an extended version of the z-bar kinematics with, Liebherr says, the longest lift arms in this wheel loader segment. These ensure greater reach and more productive loading procedures at great heights.
The L 580 is the largest model in Liebherr’s wheel loader series for markets outside of Europe and North America
The working hydraulics of the wheel loaders have also been upgraded with larger components and new electrohydraulic pilot control. This latter technology also ensures responsive movements of the lift arms, independent of the size or weight of the working tool. Liebherr also offers a new, optional weighing device on the bases of the electrohydraulic pilot control, which automatically works as a check scale and provides real-time information about the loading procedure. This data helps machine operators precisely fill dumpers, lorries and railway wagons with the specified quantities, and to avoid overfilling.
The electrohydraulic pilot control enables operators to perform individual adjustments on the new wheel loaders. For example, they can set lift limitations and maximum tilt-out heights, thus reducing the risk of accidents in areas where space is restricted. The tilt-out speed can also be programmed to protect lift arm components and the installed equipment.
In addition to these optimizations for operating safety, Liebherr has also invested in the operational reliability of the new wheel loaders. Because they are faced with an abundance of challenges – remote operating areas, extreme climates, demanding loading materials and multi-shift operation over a long period – they demand a high degree of reliability. For this reason, Liebherr has installed larger axles than were fitted on predecessor models. Liebherr has also drawn on proven components from its other wheel loaders for the core components and steel construction.
The modern design of the new wheel loaders comes with particular functional advantages, in addition to a bold new look, the company says.
The clean lines on the rear as well as the large glass surfaces in the cab facilitate good all-round visibility. Furthermore, the new reversing camera, which is installed in a protected position in the engine bonnet, assists the machine operator to keep an eye on the area to the rear. Service work is also eased with, on the L 566 and L 580, an engine bonnet that opens to the rear to make the diesel engine freely and safely accessible.
A sturdy cab access leads to the redesigned and spacious operator’s cab. One of the special features of this cab is the height-adjustable 9-in (229 mm) touch display with intuitive menu navigation. The high-resolution display provides a clear overview of all the wheel loader’s operating information. The Liebherr control lever, meanwhile, enables the highly-sensitive control of work movements as part of the modern operating concept. Hydraulic working tools can also be precisely controlled with the optional mini joystick on the control lever.