Students’ Prize-Winning Invention Lets Skid Loader Do The Heavy Lifting

An attachment that turns a skid-steer loader into a crane that can 3,500 lbs. 40 feet in the air won top prize in a national design contest for its inventors, a team of undergrads in the UW-Madison biological systems engineering department.

They had to beat out some tough hometown competition. Second prize went to another team from the same class, which developed a boring device for sampling bales of hay, forage and biomass.

Both products were developed for BSE”s capstone senior design class and entered in student design competition sponsored by ASABE, a society for engineering in agriculture, food and biological systems. BSE professor Dave Bohnhoff advised the crane team, while fellow professor Kevin Shinners guided the team that developed the forage sampler.

The crane attachment was designed to overcome major safety concerns and low hoisting capacities of lifting accessories currently available for skid loaders, Bohnhoff says.

“It can lift 10 times the load of any regular skid steer boom, and can lift it farther up and farther in front,” says Bohnhoff. “That”s because it has its own outriggers -actually two sets of dual caster wheels positioned to enable the skid steer loader to provide more counterbalance to the load being lifted.”

More counterbalance means less chance of forward tip-over – always a concern with skid loaders. The students” knuckle-boom crane can lift 1,800 pounds with the boom extended 40 feet in front of the machine”s outriggers.

Skid-steer loaders are ubiquitous on small-scale construction projects, especially the post-frame construction that”s a mainstay on farms and other rural enterprises.

While the attachment likely won”t get manufactured any time soon, the prototype will get plenty of testing. It will get used for Bohnhoff”s construction research projects, and likely for chores around the university”s agricultural research stations.

While the design itself may not get put to use, the design experience definitely will be, Bohnhoff says. “I can”t imagine a potential employer not being impressed with what these students have done,” he notes.

Students on the crane design team include Peter Harris, Pao Her, Andrew Holstein and Kyle Nelson. Kody Habeck and Shane Williams developed the forage/biomass sampling device.