A.S.V. Inc. has gained a reputation for developing rubber track loaders about the size of typical skid-steer loaders (in the 30- to 100-hp range) over the past 25 years. That doesn't mean the company has limited its innovative designs to loaders. Always open to new ideas from within and customer and dealer suggestions, ASV last year launched the Scout ST-50 tracked utility vehicle.
"The ST-50 was developed to expand the use of our ASV patented undercarriage technology," Hannah Tanata, product marketing manager, explains. "The machine went through many stages during its development as a result of customer and dealer input and market needs assessment."
This research showed that, in several markets such as construction, utilities, and resource management, there was a need for a cost-effective vehicle to traverse extreme terrain. "The ST-50 is smaller and more agile than other vehicles of similar class, but can handle more work than a conventional side by side," she says.
The same, but different
The ST-50 shares the same ASV-patented undercarriage technology as the company's rubber track loaders. "We think this makes it the most agile and rugged utility vehicle on the market, with the lightest footprint, maximum flotation and traction," Tanata points out. "Its rubber tracks are hydrostatically driven by an internal drive sprocket. Just like the ASV proven rubber track loaders, these rollers engage lugs inside the track to drive the track forward and reverse with smooth, efficient and reliable power."
The utility vehicle runs off a 50-hp Perkins engine, and Perkins engines are in all ASV models. "The power management system helps the engine work in harmony with the machine's hydraulic system, reducing the chance of engine stall, even under extreme loads," she notes.
Yet ASV says the ST-50 is in a class of its own. "It has similar power and capacities to the construction crawler carrier, but it's more easily customized, can carry more than one passenger and is far more agile," Tanata explains. "Like the conventional side-by-side, the ST-50 can carry multiple passengers, but it far outperforms by hauling up to 4,000 lbs. and can tow up to 5,000 lbs. We like to say it is a high-torque, low-speed workhorse alone in its class. And, because of the onboard hydraulics, the ST-50 can also serve as a portable power unit."
Marketed as the most versatile tracked utility vehicle available, the ST-50 offers a wide variety of attachments, either directly from the company and its dealer network or from the attachment manufacturers. For customers, all are available through ASV dealers. All attachments are built to fit the current bolt pattern of the flat bed for easy conversion, making it useful in many markets and for various applications. Here are some:
- Construction — The ST-50's 1.3-cu.-yd. dump box allows users to haul and dump more than 3,200 lbs. of material without leaving the operator seat. There is also the ability to bolt on a hydraulic crane for material handling. The quick-connecting track trailer enables owners to haul an additional 4,000 lbs. Because of these capacities, the ST-50 can also handle other attachments such as a concrete mixer or aerial lift platform.
- Landscape — Like construction, the ST-50 has many of the same uses with landscapers. With the additional benefit of the light footprint (only 2.5 psi of ground pressure under the tracks) and the option of turf tracks, landscapers can work in most seasons, even on sensitive terrain.
- Public works/utilities — Because the ST-50 can function as a portable power unit, the vehicle is useful in the public works and utilities markets for using hydraulic hand tools. The bolt-on passenger carrier allows it to carry multiple passengers over rough terrain and carry the tools need to get the job done.
- Snow and ice management — There is a bolt-on salt spreader and snow blade. ASV offers an aggressive track option, which allows the ST-50 to work in extreme conditions. "This machine would be the ultimate cross-country ski trail groomer vehicle or used as a light snowmobile trail groomer power unit," Tanata says.
- Specialty agriculture and homeowners — "The ST-50 can replace compact tractors with the ability to soon connect many conventional farm implements," she explains. "With its capacities and ease of use, it is the ultimate acreage tool, we believe."
- Resource management and preservation — The ST-50's sprayer attachment can be set for fine spraying or for less-exact applications like right-of-ways. It can also be equipped with a fire suppression unit for controlled burning. It's easy to attach a tow mower to do rough-cut mowing in rugged applications. "And, you can hook up the logging trailer to carry logs through the woods in tighter spaces," Tanata points out. "ASV has worked with a company that will convert the ST-50 into a seismic drill package like no other. Other related applications that can be fitted are wood chippers, erosion-control attachments and soil samplers."
ASV has partnered with many attachment manufacturers to create the broad range of attachments for unique markets and plans to continue to do so. "There are many other attachment manufacturers who have recognized the ST-50 as the ideal power unit for their attachments in certain markets," Tanata says. "ASV encourages the use of the ST-50 as that unit in many applications."
Virtually every attachment already paired with the ST-50 is one that is proven in its field and then matched to the vehicle for fit. "An example is the fire suppression unit," she notes. "RKO Enterprises has proven units in the market. They can be found on many all-terrain vehicles, but the model on the ASV is a 'souped up' version of that same unit that agencies have been using for years. It's just more stable with greater capacity."
Michelle Pratt, office and sales manager at RKO, Madison, IN, agrees. "ASV asked us to design and manufacture the Quick Quench Foam Fire Unit and worked very closely with our engineers to modify an existing design," she recalls. "It was a good working relationship."
Sam Bennet, president of Spraying Devices Inc. (SDI), Visalia, CA, tells a similar development story. "ASV personnel approached us at the 2007 Golf Industry Show in Anaheim," he remembers. "We discussed their needs, the capabilities of the Scout and how they envisioned its use as a platform for a multiple use sprayer."
SDI took an existing tank pattern and designed a new frame and plumbing layout exclusively for the ST-50. "One of our design challenges was adapting our pump system to the Scout hydraulic system," he says. "We worked with ASV to modify our hydraulic motor so it could correspond to the flow demands of the vehicle."
Troy Steinbrecher, an ASV engineer, worked closely with SDI's engineer, Fred Bolton, to address the issues that arose during the build. "ASV sent us a Scout to use for our prototype design," Bennet recalls. "We are very pleased the company asked us to participate in this project and are looking forward to the response from customers."
The sprayer is a 225-gallon multi-use model with a complete line of accessories, including spray booms, hose reels and controls. "This allows the dealer to put together a package that best fit the needs of the customer," he notes. "It easily loads onto the bed with a forklift and employs the existing bolt holes in the bed to tie it down safely. The pump is powered by the hydraulic system of the ST-50. Sprayer removal is just as simple."
Warranty, liability considered
When working with so many attachment suppliers, issues like warranty and potential liability need to be discussed with cooperating businesses.
Bennet explains how his company handles this: "SDI has a dedicated warranty claims department that rapidly responds to warranty issues if they arise. We have a five-year prorated warranty on the spray tank, and generally one year on most of the other components. We are proud of our product and we work closely with our dealers and end users to resolve any issues arising from the normal use of the product. SDI sprayers last a long time, with many original units still in service after 25 years."
"All warranty issues are handled with the attention ASV handles its warranty with rubber track loaders," Tanata says. "ASV pays special attention to product liability, too, by making sure we are certified with protection. For example, the cab and rear passenger carrier are ROPS certified to 9,000 lbs. When partnering with an attachment manufacturer, ASV is careful to test and make sure that the proper steps are taken to ensure user safety and reliability."
She concludes, "The ST-50 is a blank canvas for attachments to get the job done. At ASV we understand that the utility vehicle is only as powerful as the attachment matched with it for a particular application. It is the creativity of ASV employees, engineers, users, dealers and attachment manufacturers that has made the ST-50 what it is today, and will be just as vital to its future success."
Former OEM editor Kay Falk is a freelance writer from Fort Atkinson, WI.