The Top Construction, Landscape and Rental Equipment Launched in 2023
The world of off-highway machinery is evolving — battery-powered units, hydrogen engines, luxury and economy tiering, machine control automation — but maybe the biggest evolution is that everyone wants a compact machine. Small, tool-carrying construction equipment now make up about 50 percent of the U.S. machinery market with mini excavators and compact track loaders being the two most popular categories in America. To meet this enormous demand, machine makers released some pretty awesome machines in the past 12 months: advanced skid steers, electric asphalt pavers, entry-level grade control attachments and so much more. The 2023 Innovative Iron Awards celebrate the best of these compact equipment launches. Scouring tradeshows, visiting manufacturers, operating units, interviewing experts, this annual compilation represents the best equipment we’ve seen and experienced all year, including…
Takeuchi’s TB20e Mini Excavator
Electric excavators continue to be teased by major manufacturers for sale in the United States, but a select few machine makers have actually released battery-powered mini excavators into the American marketplace. The TB20e is Takeuchi’s first designed-and-built, battery-powered compact excavator for North America. In February 2022, Takeuchi partnered with United Rentals to introduce the first 100 units as a pilot program to gauge customer reaction and feedback. In 2023, these awesome e-diggers are available for sale. I caught up with Justin Smith, regional product manager at Takeuchi, at the Equip Expo tradeshow to kick the tracks on an electric digger that was actually available to buy and rent.
“We’re very excited about this machine,” confirmed Smith. “We’ve got this into the hands of a lot of national accounts. We’ve had a few end-user rental companies that have bought this machine. The performance is definitely there, and this unit shows we’re doing more and more to reduce the emissions on all of our products.”
Similar in performance to Takeuchi’s diesel-powered TB216, the TB20e is powered by a lithium-ion battery that offers four to eight hours of runtime, depending on application and environment. The excavator features an on-board charger with 95v to 265v single-phase power. When operators require additional runtime, they can even tether the TB20e to the onboard charger and remain operational. A faster, optional off-board charger can charge the TB20e in just two to four hours using 408v to 552v three-phase power. Always safety first, an emergency stop switch located on the seat riser prevents the machine from operating or charging when activated.
“Monitoring the batteries is just through the monitor there,” said Smith, pointing to the unit on the show floor. “It’s just like a fuel gauge on your other machine. It’s going to show you how much you have left, and, of course, if you’re running attachments out on the end of the machine you’re going to drain the power a lot quicker, but it’s going to show you no different than a fuel gauge on a regular diesel powered machine.”
Inside the cab, operators will find a color, 4.3-in. high-definition, multifunction color monitor, electrohydraulic joystick controls, key start, comfortable suspension seat, traditional travel and blade control levers and an electronic dial throttle. This dial throttle increases the motor speed incrementally; however, unlike a diesel engine that gets increasingly louder as its rpms ramp up, the TB20e’s only sounds come from its motor and pumps.
“Typical applications are people doing indoor work where the scrubbers and things used to be needed,” said Smith. “Also targeting large cities where they’ve got noise ordinances and things like that and night work. We found too that some of these big contract jobs, especially in certain states, require at least one electric machine on the job. There is beginning to be more of a move to having these electric models in some applications on certain jobsites.”
The TB20e has an operating weight of 4,255 lbs and features a standard long arm with integrated thumb mount. It has a maximum dig depth of 7 ft, 10 in. and a maximum reach of 13 ft, 4.9 in.. A primary hydraulic circuit plumbed to midarm delivers 9 gpm of auxiliary flow for running a hydraulic hammer or other hydraulically driven attachments. Because the TB20e has no engine, maintaining the excavator is simple, with fewer moving parts and no need for fuel filters, engine oil, engine oil filters or coolant.
“There’s hardly any maintenance besides daily greasing of the work equipment, inspecting track tension and adjusting if necessary. Check the hydraulic oil level and replenish as needed. Inspect and clean the mesh filter for the electric motors, and clean the fans for the on-board charger and hydraulic oil cooler, but there’s nothing with the batteries. It’s all self-contained,” explained Smith.
There’s so much more, so visit takeuchi-us.com to learn about it.