Over the past two decades, the small, tool-carrier excavator has found its home in the American construction equipment fleet. It’s a machine that migrated from Asia and Europe, where construction equipment has shrunk as an answer to continual metropolitan sprawl. U.S. contractors and jobsites have been trending in the same direction, spurred by smaller space constraints, an enormous rental market (which favors small equipment) and the need for both portability and versatility in machinery.
The result is that mini excavators (also called compact excavators) have become some of the world’s most nimble and versatile diggers and attachment-takers. Defined as excavators under 6 metric tons (although we cover a few bigger ones in this magazine as well), these are small excavation machines engineered with an undercarriage and tracks, a long digging arm and a cab or ROPS enclosure. Typically with a dig depth between 5 and 20 ft and an operating weight between 2,000 and 20,000 lbs, compact excavators can fit into cramped worksites and still give big dig power. These units have grown so popular that the number of manufacturers offering models is overwhelming — Bobcat, Caterpillar, Yanmar, Volvo, John Deere, Komatsu, Kubota, Kobelco, Takeuchi, Case, New Holland, Hitachi and beyond. Some of those brands contributed to our recent excavator showcase. Enjoy!
The new R-Series compact excavators from Bobcat Co. feature bold, distinct designs, helping boost operator productivity and comfort, as well as machine uptime protection. A new dual-flange track roller system has been added to provide up to a 15 percent increase in over-the-side capacity for greater digging performance and slewing ability. Operators will also experience improved ride quality, high-quality finish and a redesigned cab for an unbeatable operator experience. The Bobcat E32 and E35 in the popular 3- to 4-ton size class were the first R-Series excavators to launch. For more info, visit bobcat.com/excavators/r-series.
The Kubota KX033-4 compact excavator with an extendable dipper arm is a new configuration to the existing KX033-4 within Kubota’s KX Series. The new KX033-4 with the extendable dipper arm features an impressive digging depth of 12 ft, 2 in. and a digging reach of 18 ft, 2 in. Now operators can have the dig depth and reach of a larger machine with the compact footprint of the KX033-4. Powered by a 24.8-gross-hp direct injection Kubota Tier 4 Final engine, the machine has adjustable hydraulics that allow the operator to program up to five different oil flow rates, controlled from a digital control panel. For more info, visit kubotausa.com.
The Kobelco SK35SR is a compact, yet tough performer that delivers full-size benefits with short-radius capabilities and exceptional features. This versatile, 8,555-lb model boasts a digging force of 7,216 lbs and a 17-ft, 7-in. reach at ground level. Equipped with a 23.1-hp engine that meets Tier 4 Final requirements, the Kobelco SK35SR packs plenty of power and hydraulic performance. An integrated flow pump system delivers fast and smooth operation while raising the arm and boom — even during heavy loads — and an automatic two-speed travel feature ensures efficient travel on jobsites. A new four-way blade option delivers a left and right angle movement of 23 to 25 degrees. For more info, visit kobelco-usa.com.
Cat’s 300.9D VPS
Caterpillar has added the model 300.9D VPS (Versatile Power System) to the Cat range of mini hydraulic excavators. The versatile design of the 300.9D VPS benefits both the owner/operator and the rental company by allowing the machine — in conjunction with its separate hydraulic power unit — to work either with its diesel engine or from a remote electrical power source, with no loss of performance. Having an electrical drive system remote from the machine enhances utilization and rental options. The 300.9D VPS can be rented alone for regular applications or with the hydraulic power unit when the job requires low noise and zero emission. For more info, visit cat.com.
Takeuchi-US features the all-new TB235-2 compact hydraulic excavator. The TB235-2 provides Takeuchi with a 3.5-ton offering in this competitive market classification. With the TB235-2, Takeuchi will be able to meet the needs of a wide range of customers including general contractors, landscapers, utility contractors and the rental industry. With an operating weight of 7,474 lbs, a dig depth of 10 ft, 7.7 in., maximum reach of 17 ft, 3 in. and breakout force of 9,127 lbs, the TB235-2 provides excellent working range and performance. Additionally, the TB235-2 shares the 24.4-hp Yanmar engine with the TB230 and requires no additional exhaust aftertreatment systems. For more info, visit takeuchi-us.com.
The Gehl M08 is the most compact excavator in its product line. The highly compact dimensions of this machine, 2 ft, 3 in. by 8 ft, 6 in., make it easy to transport and move through doors and on sidewalks. A minimal tail swing design allows the Gehl M08 to operate in tight spaces. The boom swing pivots 45 degrees to the left and 90 degrees to the right, allowing for consistent digging without having to reposition the machine. The boom pivot features a single pin mount to provide for longer life and reduced costs. The Gehl M08 can dig down nearly 5 ft with an operating weight of 2,348 lbs. It also sustains bucket breakout forces up to 2,360 lbs. For more info, visit gehl.com.
Wacker Neuson ET16
Wacker Neuson’s newest compact excavator, the ET16, offers a large cab that is ergonomically designed for operator comfort and productivity. The ET16 has a compact footprint that is enhanced with a telescopic undercarriage that can be adjusted from 39 to 51 in., providing stability when extended and then allows for maneuverability in tight quarters when retracted. Additionally, the swivel boom provides the ability to excavate near buildings and jobsite obstructions. The 1.5-ton-class ET16 is powered by a 17.7-hp, three-cylinder Yanmar diesel engine and provides a bucket breakout force of 3,439 lbs and a maximum digging depth of 7 ft, 11 in. with the long dipperstick. For more info, visit wackerneuson.us.
Case C Series
Case Construction Equipment currently offers seven mini excavators: the CX17C, CX26C, CX30C, CX33C, CX37C, CX57C and CX60C. This new offering expands the Case mini excavator lineup to its broadest range of sizes ever and provides a more comprehensive and feature-driven compact excavator solution to the construction, utility and landscaping markets. The CX57C and CX60C offer best-in-class horsepower and provide greater power and performance than any previous Case mini excavators. Each new model features a variety of standard features designed to improve productivity and performance. The new machines feature a zero-tail swing, short-radius or conventional design. For more info, visit casece.com.
JCB 45Z-1 Zero-Tail Swing
In March of last year, JCB launched the powerful 45Z-1 zero-tail swing compact excavator. With an operating weight of 9,866 lbs and a transport weight of 9,700 lbs, the 45Z-1 is one of the largest and most powerful compact excavators that can be towed behind a pickup truck without the need for a commercial driver’s license (subject to local regulations). The 45Z-1 is powered by a Tier-4-Final engine from JCB by Kohler, producing 48 hp and 166 ft-lbs of torque. The upgraded hydraulic system also delivers up to 8,542 lbs of bucket breakout force and a dipper breakout of 4,945 lbs, boosting performance and productivity. For more info, visit jcb.com.
New Holland E30C
New Holland Construction increases its full line offering of mini excavators with the addition of the E30C (March 2017), bringing the total to seven models ranging from 1.7 to 6 metric tons. Designed for more power, more productivity and more value, New Holland mini excavators offer competitive performance measures on each available model, including extended life components, compact, multi-cylinder, liquid-cooled industrial diesel engines, Tier 4 Final and low noise level. The C-Series mini excavator cab features excellent forward visibility with an excavator-style window and removable lower window, retractable windows on the main door and right side and more. For more info, visit construction.newholland.com.
The 9A Series of compact excavators from Hyundai Construction Equipment Americas offers seven models, including the R30Z-9AK, a 3-ton-class machine that features a zero-tail swing design for optimum maneuverability in confined work spaces. The Hyundai R30Z-9AK excavator includes many standard features that provide value, including thumb brackets, large dozer blades, hydraulic quick-couplers for attachments and hydraulics-ready auxiliary piping to support a wide range of applications. The Hyundai R30Z-9AK excavator is powered by a Kubota engine delivering 23.2 hp. Its maximum digging depth is 8 ft, 2 in. and its maximum digging reach is 15 ft, 3 in. For more info, visit hceamericas.com.
The Mustang 80M is the most compact excavator in the product line. The highly compact dimensions of this machine, 2-ft, 3 in. by 8 ft, 6 in., make it easy to transport and move through doors and on sidewalks. A minimal-tail swing design allows the Mustang 80M to operate in tight spaces. The boom swing pivots 45 degrees to the left and 90 degrees to the right, allowing for consistent digging without having to reposition the machine. The boom pivot features a single pin mount to provide for longer life and reduced costs. The Mustang 80M can dig down nearly 5 ft with an operating weight of 2,348 lbs. It also sustains bucket breakout forces up to 2,360 lbs. For more info, visit mustangmfg.com.
A unique feature of Yanmar excavators is a quick-coupler, which is provided on all models ViO25-6A and larger. The pin-grabber style quick-coupler is used by the operator from within the cab and simplifies the ability to switch easily and quickly between different size buckets and different attachments (such as breakers, mowers, etc.). The distance between pins is adjustable so attachments with different pin distances can be used. Any attachment using a two-pin type connection, as with the bucket, can be installed using the quick-coupler. Only the application of the locking pin and the hookup of any hoses or connections for attachments needs to be done outside the cab. The quick-coupler is included as a standard feature on Yanmar excavators. For more info, visit yanmar.com/us/.