JCB has unveiled the first model in its all-new line-up of hydraulic excavators.

Four years in development, the new excavators benefit from a significant focus on the operator environment. The cab is a completely new structure, which will be used across the X series range. It is 100 mm longer and a full one metre wide, making it 15 percent larger overall than on previous machines. That probably doesn’t sound like much. But I’ve sat in an X Series machine and I was disappointed when I had to return to my car. The cab incorporates the ROPS frame within the structure and has flat glazing all round. Most impressively, the 220X boasts an incredibly low 68dB(A) noise level inside the operator’s cab, down from 73dB(A) on the previous generation.

Three options of an all-new seat developed with supplier Grammer provide maximum comfort, with heating and ventilation among the options. The flat floor is easy to keep clean and even the rubber mat has been redesigned to assist with sweeping out.

To the right-hand side of the operator is an all-new command pod, bringing together all switches and controls into a single seat-mounted unit. A 7” tilt-adjustable monitor has been provided with intuitive menus and functionality. The monitor is accessed through an automotive-style rotary controller. The foot pedals, foot rests and tracking levers have also been redesigned to provide increased comfort, while the machines can be supplied factory-prepared for GPS excavation guidance, tilt-rotator and autolube if required.

The new 20-tonne class excavators herald a robust new appearance that will be carried throughout the range. Designed and built to work efficiently and profitably, with durability and reliability throughout every strand of their DNA, the excavators have an upperstructure that is now a full 2.7 metre wide, 200 mm broader than their predecessors.

The additional space has allowed JCB’s designers to mount the main boom in the centre of the machine, rather than at an offset. This reduces stress on the slew bearing and provides increased accuracy for the operator when trenching. It also permits the use of larger buckets without impacting the tracks.

A pronounced skirt circles the upperstructure, providing a strong, yet easily repairable profile to protect the new doors. All tanks are now mounted inside the bodywork, to further reduce the risk of damage and even the counterweight has been designed to prevent knocks. There is easy access to a large tool box, with integral refuelling pump with filter, while the AdBlue tank is positioned under a separate cover, to prevent cross-contamination and to make it easier to refill.

While much of the last decade has – for all manufacturers – put engine development at the centre of the engineers’ brief, the stability of Tier 4 Final and Stage IV legislation has allowed the team to expand its remit for the new models. The company has stayed with proven Kawasaki hydraulic pumps and Kayaba valves, but has opted for larger spools and a latest generation valve block for reduced hydraulic losses. The diameter of the main hydraulic hose to and from the main hydraulic valve has increased in diameter from 19-25 mm, giving greater flow without increasing the speed of the oil. Maintaining the speed of the oil in increased diameter hoses, results in less wear and tear and therefore increases hose life.

Though the boom and arm are unchanged, JCB will offer the option of boom float with two modes to make grading easier and to reduce stress when operating a hydraulic breaker. The bucket ram will be available with an optional hose burst check valve and the grease points in the boom and arm have been grouped together to reduce service time.

JCB has undertaken the design and engineering of the new 20-tonne machines with quality and durability at the heart of every operation. The company benchmarked all leading competitors and collected more than 1,000 requirements from customers around the world. The team spent four years honing the excavators, to make them both simple to operate and simple to service.

“Every detail of these excavators has been examined and perfected, to provide maximum durability and reliability in operation. But more than that, we have made it easier for the operator and for the service technician, reducing downtime for the customer and boosting profitability,” concludes JCB’s Tim Burnhope. “The 220X heralds the arrival of a new generation of JCB excavators that will provide many years of faithful service across the world.”