Tractors are Changing, so the winches are too.
Winch "integration" with crawler manufactures like CAT, Deere, and Komatsu continues to increase. In tern, confusion related to which model winch is compatible with each tractor increases as well. The key to understand what drives these winches. The best winch for a CAT D6T may perform poorly on a Deere 850K and vice versa. There is not always a best winch in each weight class, however there is usually a best paring for each tractor / winch configuration depending on the application.
PTO winches have unmatched in power transfer to the winch when paired with a torque converter drive. You’ll see this torque converter drive used in common dozers like the CAT D5 series (H/M/N), D6 Series (H/R/T), D7 Series (H/R), and all CAT D8,9,10,11 dozers (R/T). This configuration of a powershift type transmission paired with torque converter drive transmission to the PTO shaft has very efficient power transfer to the winch. The same PTO winch on the back of a Deere or Komatsu equipped with a hydrostatic transmission would not have the same performance specs.
Hydraulic winches have unmatched control over line speed, but they are limited to the HP available to them through the hydraulic system. Auxiliary hydraulic GPM/psi on non-hydrostatic transmission crawler dozers is often limited because their hydraulic needs are generally limited to the blade and ripper functions. Hydraulic/hydro-static dozers like the Deere 850K, 1050K, Komatsu D155-8, D275-5, and the CAT D5K, D6K, D7E all have great hydraulic winch options. Often, a hydraulic winch is the only option for these hydro-static dozers. Traditionally there is some HP loss for hydraulic drive from the engine converting shaft power to fluid power. The new high-performance winch optimized tractors from Deere, CAT, and Komatsu offer huge power transfer to the winch.
The winching industry is a niche need in the pipeline, recovery, oil field markets with changing applications for forestry. Understanding how changing manufacture designs for the winch and crawler will help operators get the most out of winches on their jobs. It’s a good sign that engineers are still finding new ways to maximize productivity no matter what type of power train the winch is installed on.