A front-end loader is a steel attachment for tractors, fitted onto a bracket either side of the hood. It is used to lift and transport loads. The bracket and lifting arms are designed to distribute the weight across the whole rig, so that the tractor remains stable when lifting high loads. Sophisticated mechanics makes attaching and detaching the loader take just a few minutes. The front loader can be fitted with further attachments such as shovels, forklifts, baskets, pitchforks as well as moving attachments such as claws, rotary tools and edge tools.
Older models required separate levers for lifting, lowering, filling and emptying, according to each front attachment. The controls have since been reduced to a single modern joystick or cross-lever, in keeping with the demands of modern usage.Modern front-end loaders often come with a built-in parallel guide, crucial for forklift work. The parallel guide ensures that the angle between the tool and the ground remains constant during lifting, so that the load does not tip forwards or backwards. There are usually two to four additional hydraulic terminals available for additional operations, depending on the manufacturer.
The front loader is supplied with force from the tractor's hydraulic duty pump, which sends pressure via oil in the cylinders thereby maintaining the force transmitted. The lifting arm's hydraulic circuit contains a gas compression spring which counteracts the effect of uneven terrain and ensures that the operation is not disrupted.