Attachments division key to JCB business

Peter Jowett

WITH over 90 families of attachments and some 2,500 products, it’s fair to say that JCB isn’t content with standing still when it comes to this crucial area of the equipment market.

Peter Jowett, director and general manager of JCB Attachments and Light Equipment, told Project Plant that the manufacturer’s attachments division is “absolutely key” to the overall JCB business.

“In attachment terms, we’re fairly unique as a business because not many OEMs have a dedicated attachments business,” he said. “The majority of products we offer are assembled here in this facility.

“Without an attachment, a machine is nothing. That’s obvious. But what I say is that it’s the attachment and the machine that creates the business solution for our customers.

“Earlier this year we launched a brand new range of breakers, called Contractor breakers, to complement our already existing range of very successful Professional breakers. What we saw was emerging lower-cost entries coming in from China, Korea, etc and we had to react to that. There are certain types of customer and certain types of jobs where the purchase decision has to be aligned to the cost of the job.

“Our Professional range is aimed at the user who is working in process industry where uptime is absolutely key (and who is) wanting a premium breaker. Then you’ve got the customer where the cost of the overall job is key to the purchasing decision and therefore the Contractor range of breakers sits very nicely. It’s still a robust breaker (and) still backed up by three years warranty.”

Peter said that one of the major benefits of having a dedicated attachments business is that the products are subjected to the same “rigorous” testing as all JCB machines.

“We develop our attachments in conjunction with our machines,” Peter added. “Therefore the benefit to the customer is he can be fairly comfortable in the thought that his attachment is optimised for the machine, is warranted with the machine – especially when talking about high value capital attachments such as a breaker – and it comes with the appropriate certification.

“We offer the best range of attachments in the industry. Our key edge is that we develop our attachments in conjunction with the machines. The other edge is that they are built, designed and assembled to the same exacting standards as our machines so you get the same quality on the attachments as you do on the machines.

“People will argue that price is key – and it is – but availability is also crucial and we pride ourselves on that.

“We’re able to stock our attachments in our 17 warehouses across the world for immediate availability on our top lines.”

According to Peter, innovation and launching new and improved solutions are vital to the division’s continued success. “We work and live in such a fast moving industry and there’s always a better solution around the corner,” he said. “It’s very important to keep constantly innovating. The breakers are a great example. The concept of the breaker hasn’t really changed over the years but manufacturers have been able to produce a better breaker for a lower cost, and that for me is innovation.

“We’re driving change. We have seen some new opportunities coming through – the Hydradig represents a perfect opportunity for us as a new concept machine. We were well aligned to that, launching over 60 new attachments with the Hydradig.”

The latest offering from JCB Attachments is two improved hydraulic hitches for the manufacturer’s mid-weight JS excavators. The hitches have been designed to suit machines in the 13-14 tonne sector and the 20-22 tonne market.

The hitches can be used with both crawler and wheeled JS excavators and feature a positive locking system whereby the front safety lock is forced into its default position by a spring, retaining and locking the attachment pin.

JCB said the hitches use the rear lock as a secondary safety feature, backed up by two powerful springs. This, the manufacturer added, retains the attachment’s rear pin in the event of a cylinder failure.

The hitches also have an open frame design to prevent material build-up and there are no grease points, which JCB explained cuts regular maintenance and boosts productivity.

Both front and rear pin hooks are painted to make them visible to the operator. There is also a heavy-duty lifting eye on the end of the hitch.

Peter confirmed he still gets a thrill when a new product is launched.

“Definitely! I come from a product background,” he added. “I do get a big buzz out of innovation and new products. Innovation has many guises – it’s not just about the product makeup. It’s about every way we do business. We’re very proud of some of the product launches we’ve had recently. We’ve got some exciting stuff around the corner as well.”