When job size determines equipment size, it’s vital to have good understanding of what’s out there.
With jobs flowing back into the industry through residential construction and oil-and-gas earthmoving work, grading and excavating contractors who have been hibernating on equipment purchases are now coming forward to add more to what for many has become an outdated fleet.
The jobs may be smaller in size, necessitating compact equipment.
For many, that could mean trying the equipment through rental and lease agreements to ascertain the market’s true direction before making solid investments. Or in making purchases, contractors are careful to buy that which can accommodate a wide range of attachments.
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Additionally, manufacturers are launching equipment with Tier 4 engines to meet federal emissions standards. Operator comfort items ensure greater productivity and labor force satisfaction.
Mike Fitzgerald, a loader product specialist for Bobcat, notes that the compact equipment business continues to recover and grow from where it had stalled in 2008 and 2009.
“What I see now is the contractors who survived through the recessionary time and kept equipment running during that time now see they’ve got enough work to keep them busy and are looking to replacing it,” says Fitzgerald. “We’re seeing a lot of movement toward guys updating equipment that was in need of updating because in times where they weren’t as busy, the economy didn’t allow for that.”
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There is strong demand for skid-steer loaders and compact track loaders, Fitzgerald says, adding that contractors are continually adding attachments to equipment that accommodates them.
“They can utilize that prime carrier more frequently or have higher utilization out of one piece of equipment,” he points out. “People have to be smarter and have their businesses more refined than what they did in years past. With a piece of compact equipment and a variety of attachments, they can utilize that and find the best return on investment.”
The trend these days is toward smaller projects, which call for more compact equipment, Fitzgerald says.
“While you see a lot of large road construction in major metro areas just to move more traffic overall, there are fewer large road, interstate, and interchange-type projects going on today than there was 20 years ago and therefore, contractors are looking toward more smaller projects,” he adds.
In his travels throughout the United States, Fitzgerald notes smaller residential job-site projects coming back and with that, the need to develop mini-malls, grocery stores, restaurants and malls.
“Interest rates are still low, so the business climate I see out there today for contractors if they have the right equipment and the right work capabilities are opportunities for them to be busy and to make a good living at this stage of time,” Fitzgerald adds.
“When you come out of a recession, you normally see rental pick up first, and we did see that a year or two ago. Once the operations have enough business to know they’re going to keep a machine busy, they will purchase that and work their way through.”
With low-interest money now available, Fitzgerald is seeing a number of contractors buying machines to replace their older existing fleet and update the fleet to expand it.
“Their business has picked up. Contractors have the choice of low-rate financing or leasing, depending on what their accounting system favors best,” he says.
When Bobcat sells loaders, a machine goes out with a bucket, and a large percentage of them are sold with pallet forks because contractors find high utilization of those as an extra attachment, Fitzgerald says.
“For the grading and excavating-type contractors, one of the things I see more every day is a sweeper bucket, because on job sites where they have trucks and the equipment moving on and off the roads of the site, they have to clean that.”
Contractors choose attachments depending on the stage of the job site in which they are working, as this will focus them as to what group of attachments they should consider, Fitzgerald says.
Grading contractors will come in on the front side of a job to clean up vegetation on a site and may want a Brushcat rotary cutter for mowing or cleaning, or a flail cutter to remove light brush and small trees.
A forestry cutter will take the trees out. Different grapples are chosen for picking up different materials. Root grapples will remove small tress stumps.
Once a contractor gets onto a site, soil conditioners, landscape rakes, and tree spades will be used for the setup.
“If it’s a grading contractor who does more final work and works in an existing property, he may look toward items like a grader for leveling. We’ve got laser options that go onto our graders. We’ve got a sonic leveling system that can be put onto a grader,” says Fitzgerald. “There is a lot of fine detail work they can do. We have planers to remove asphalt and concrete if they’re adding to an existing site where they may need to cut out a certain section.”
Operator comfort items are highly sought these days, Fitzgerald says.
“Today’s operators are in compact equipment for longer periods of time,” he says. “Many years ago, a piece of compact equipment might have been on a job site as a utility piece where somebody got in and out of it a couple of times a day to do small jobs.”
Today’s contractors may spend eight to 10 hours a day in the machine, “truly moving the material and getting the job done,” Fitzgerald adds.
“Cab enclosures, heaters, and air conditioners are becoming more popular all of the time,” he says. “Radios are an option. There are different types of control systems to meet customers’ needs as to whether they like to run the hydraulics with foot pedals, hand-control type systems, or joystick control systems that we see more of being sold on our machines every day.”
When Fitzgerald has been out speaking with operators, they request items that Bobcat has implemented into machines over the course of time that “may seem basic to people who drive around in a car or pickup truck-things like a cup holder and a power port to plug in electronics such as a cell phone, iPad, or iPod.
“Those things that have been in the auto industry for many years are now being added to the compact equipment because the expectations from the operators are there,” he says. “They really want those extra features and want to be more comfortable at the end of the day.”
Bobcat has improved its suspension seats, and air-ride seats are an option.
“When you get into hotter areas such as Florida, Texas, Arizona, and southern California, there are still a lot of open-cab machines sold there that have less creature comfort,” Fitzgerald says. “Every year, our option take-rate for air conditioning and radios available goes up, because the number of operators who used to accept working out in the elements is getting fewer these days-they want to be more comfortable.”
Fitzgerald points out that productivity also factors in with operator comfort.
“If an operator is more comfortable and less fatigued during the day, he will be more productive and make the operation more money,” Fitzgerald points out.
One of the most requested specialty items is the laser option and a sonic-type leveling system on the Bobcat grader, says Fitzgerald.
“You’ve got a machine, you’ve got an attachment, and now you’ve got an option on the attachment,” he says. “Those are things people look toward in doing a better job: fine grading and leveling to minimize any overages on purchasing concrete or base materials.”
While the types of compact equipment purchased and used by contractors today have not changed much from five years ago-compact track loaders, skid-steer loaders, and excavators are still the top choices-what has changed is that many contractors are now relying more and more on rental versus buying, says Jamie Wright, product manager for Terex Construction Americas.
“This is largely due to the need to reduce operating costs as well as to have the ability to bid jobs tighter knowing what the costs will be on the front end,” Wright says. “That said, many contractors still choose to buy equipment to refresh their fleets. The balance of fleet inventory versus rental possibilities affects what equipment they are choosing to buy versus which ones to rent.”
Case in point: Smaller, specialized equipment is more likely to be rented, whereas mid-size and larger equipment is more likely to be added permanently to a contractor’s fleet, Wright says.
“At Terex, we have noticed that the modern contractors have become much savvier about managing their fleet inventories, especially as it pertains to skid loaders and track loaders,” Wright says. “Most contractors have a balance of both in their fleet; however, with the operational cost of track loaders being higher than skid-steers, contractors are getting better at managing when these units go onto the job site and when to take them off a project.”
Wright notes that track loaders are extremely productive but, if used in the wrong application, can cost the owner more money per hour to operate than the skid-steer.
“Managing these fleets is vital in the success of the company, and managing equipment in the field, along with determining rental versus ownership, affects the bottom line of every contractor,” Wright says.
Most contractors doing business with Terex are looking to purchase skid-steer loaders and track loaders with a rated operating capacity of between 2,000 pounds and 2,700 pounds, Wright says.
“The reason for this is these machines’ ability to handle most pick-and-carry applications as well as the majority of digging jobs,” he says. “These units will also be lower in weight, so hauling the equipment does not require a larger truck and trailer or special permits to move them from job to job. This philosophy holds true for compact excavators as well.”
Wright finds that operator comfort is always a part of a purchasing decision in that the more comfortable the operator is, the more productive that person will be during the workday.
“The operator’s compartment is their office,” he says. “It is where they do business every day.
“The ability to position the seat to the operator’s size weight and position is a key feature in one’s office,” he adds. “Mechanical suspension seats are always an option in Terex compact equipment. In many of our compact equipment units it is a standard feature.”
The view from an operator’s office has to be good as well, Wright points out.
“Visibility is extremely important when choosing a piece of compact equipment,” he says. “In the Terex TLB840 backhoe loader, for example, there’s 84 square feet of glass for operators to see out of. Visibility is critical because this particular compact unit is used around towns and cities and with its 25 miles per hour road speed, it is not unusual to see it next to you at a stoplight.”
Nor is it unusual for operators to drive a backhoe loader from “point A to point B” on a regular basis, making line of sight “very important” in high traffic areas and around the job site, Wright adds.
Many of the Terex units come with an optional air-ride seat. Other amenities such as a cup holder for a cold beverage and cell phone storage areas with 12-V outlets for charging are added to ensure the operator’s compartment caters to their daily needs, Wright says.
“No office would be complete without climate control,” he adds. “Most Terex compact equipment units come equipped with heated, air conditioned and pressurized cabs to keep a clean environment inside the cabin.
“The TLB840 backhoe loader even has a built-in lunchbox to keep an operator’s food and drink either cool or warm, depending upon the season. All of these features add to operator comfort, making them more productive and comfortable when working in harsh environments.”
Wright cautions there are questions every contractor should consider before purchasing or renting compact equipment:
- Can I get parts for this unit and where can I get them?
- Where will I get parts for this unit five years from now?
- How easy is it to work on the component?
- Will I have to wait for long periods of time to get parts to repair the machine?
“These are valid questions when making a buying decision and can affect downtime and resale,” Wright points out.
Terex’ skid-steer loaders use Perkins engines, Rexroth drive motors, operator controls and pumps, Titan tires, Virnig buckets, and axle pods.
“The axle pod, which connects the tire of the unit to the frame, is one of the most abused components on a skid-steer loader,” Wright points out. “Some manufacturers simply weld a tube on the side of the chain case that holds the bearings and axle. We only use mechanically faced seals in our pods-they are an independent pod that does not use the chain case oil to lubricate the bearings, which can cause early failure due to contamination.”
The most popular and most requested attachments for compact equipment are buckets and pallet forks, says Wright.
“Buckets are used in so many applications, it’s easy to understand why they are popular,” he says. “Pallet forks also can be one of a contractor’s most vital attachments, no matter what type of work they are doing. This attachment, placed on any compact loader, puts a rough terrain forklift to pick, carry, and place materials on every job site.”
New housing starts have gone on the rise in the past two years, leading all new construction development now, says Nathan Ryan, product manager for wheel loaders and excavators for Manitou.
“Contractors haven’t fully embraced the recovery yet,” Ryan says. “They’re still a little bit skeptical, and we’re seeing more people rely on rental tools-half of our company’s sales are going to rentals.
“However, it’s still essential that most contractors have a skid-steer or a track loader and compact excavator in their lineup, given how much they can use those two pieces of equipment.”
Large equipment purchases are being delayed in favor of smaller investments given the economic growth, Ryan adds.
With Tier 4 regulations in effect for engines under 75-horsepower, many contractors are loading up on Interim Tier 4 and Tier 3 equipment while it’s still available in inventory, he adds.
Favored operator comforts and ergonomic features include air-conditioning, pressurized cabs, air-ride suspension seats, radios, and joystick controls.
“They definitely make an operator’s workday less stressful and help retain valuable employees,” notes Ryan. “Our customer feedback indicates that employees who are comfortable and satisfied with the performance of the equipment not only treat it better, but the employer sees less employee turnover.”
Thumbs are low-cost attachments that can be used for a variety of jobs, points out Ron Peters, product manager. CE Attachments sells a hydraulic thumb. The company offers different thumbs to fit different class machines.
“They are easy to operate,” Peters says. “The operator sits in the cab and there’s a choice of control with the button or rocker switch they can use to activate the thumb open and close.”
Breakers are popular as well and are utilized on skid-steer loaders, track loaders, and excavators, Peters says. The most popular models being sold are the EBS550 and the EBS800.
“We stress that if you make a $90,000 investment in a skid loader and compact excavator to buy the attachments to make them more versatile,” says Ryan. “That’s how you’re going to improve the productivity. We recommend the purchase of several buckets, augers, and thumbs. It’s amazing in this day and age the jobs the machines can be used for and you only get that if you use the correct attachments.”
Compact equipment-including compact excavators, skid steers, compact wheel loaders and compact track loaders-offers contractors versatility in applications where their larger equipment may be restrictive due to size, points out Katie Pullen, a brand marketing manager for CASE Construction Equipment.
“This includes getting onto sites that are wooded or where finish landscaping cannot be disturbed or where digging must take place immediately next to existing structures,” she says. “They also offer advantages in terms of attachment versatility; larger, full-size equipment may not offer the attachment options of a skid-steer or compact track loader.”
For large contracting operations, compact equipment often serves as support equipment brought in to help finish jobs, although skid-steers continue to be a jack-of-all trades from when ground is first broken to the final landscape installation, Pullen points out.
“Smaller contractors and owner/operators will often rely on compact equipment for a heavier workload due to the lower total cost of ownership, application versatility, and ease of transport,” she adds.
CASE’s sales in compact excavators is increasing, something Pullen attributes to the company’s adaptability.
“They tend to last long and have minimal maintenance issues because they do not work in as harsh of an environment as full-size equipment,” she says. “They are also a high-volume product in the rental market. We continue to see growth potential in both the 3- to 4-metric-ton size class and the 5- to 6-metric-ton class. The 3- to 4-metric-ton size class provides excellent transportability with strong performance, the perfect combination for small- to mid-sized contractors.”
Compact track loaders continue to surge in industries where low ground pressure and minimal disturbance to existing ground and surface is important, such as in landscaping, residential construction, and utility installation, she adds.
According to Warren Anderson, a brand-marketing manager for CASE Construction Equipment, the greatest demand for skid-steers is for models with rated operating capacities ranging from 1,750 to 2,100 pounds.
“There is, however, a trend towards larger machines that offer a number of benefits related to lifting capacity and hydraulic performance,” he says. “Larger skid-steers also allow operators to run hydraulic attachments with greater capacity, with requirements such as higher pressures, and provide advantages in terms of lift capacity.
“For contractors in residential and nonresidential construction, lift capacity is one of the primary driving factors, as loading and unloading of trucks with a skid-steer is much more efficient than other methods.”
Compact wheel loaders continue to provide benefits in many supply yard and truck-loading applications and are ideal for applications where a contractor needs more power, reach and lift capacity than a skid-steer, but not quite the full strength and size of a full-size wheel loader, Anderson says.
Operator comfort continues to be an important factor, he adds.
“Even in compact equipment, manufacturers are offering enclosed cabs with some of the creature comforts more associated with full-size equipment,” he says. “This includes pressurized cabs, radios, and environmental controls. These help improve comfort and reduce operator fatigue, helping contractors get the most out of their employees during long days in varying conditions and climates.”
Controllability is as important as comfort, Anderson points out.
“Contractors are demanding and manufacturers are providing control options that offer the responsiveness and performance of full-size equipment and allow operators to dial in controls to operating preferences,” he says. “Ease of use is important as training new workers and getting them up to speed in a short amount of time is important.”
As for attachments, there has been a great demand for forks, augers, trenchers, 4-in-1 buckets, dozer blades, and other material handling attachments, Anderson says, adding there are hundreds of options from which contractors can choose to ramp up the versatility of compact equipment.
Caterpillar is introducing three new Cat D Series compact track loaders and three new Cat D Series multiterrain loaders, as well as two updated D Series compact track loaders.
The machines features a new cab designed for enhanced operator comfort and control, new lift arm design for improved sight lines, and increased engine performance.
The eight D Series rubber-track loaders range in rated operating capacity (50% of tipping load) from 2,800 pounds to 4,650 pounds.
Midsize frame models as narrow as 66 inches are the 257D multiterrain loader (MTL) and 259D compact track loader (CTL). Larger frame models are the 277D and 287D MTLs and the 279D and 289D CTLs. These six D Series models feature an electronically controlled 3.3-liter engine that meets Tier 4 Final (Stage IIIB) emissions standards.
The Cat C3.3B engine provides 74 horsepower with 8% more torque and 6% improved fuel economy compared with previous models.
The largest D series models, the 299D and 299D XHP CTLs, were launched in early 2012 and continue to be powered by an electronically controlled 3.8-liter engine, which meets Tier 4 Interim (Stage IIIB) emissions standards.
The Cat C3.8 produces 98 gross horsepower for the 299D and 110 net horsepower for the 299D XHP, which powers an auxiliary hydraulic system producing as much as 40 gpm of flow at 4,061 psi.
The 299D and 299D XHP also feature the new cab environment and features as well as the new lift arm design.
Cat MTL and CTL models feature torsion-axle suspensions to isolate their track-roller frames from the chassis, designed to provide a smooth ride for the operator and absorb shock loads that otherwise would be transmitted to the frame and drive components.
The 277D and 287D MTL models also feature a second level of suspension with torsion-axle mounting of the roller bogie wheels, enabling greater ground contact path for increased traction and flotation as well as enhanced ride quality.
Cat CTLs’ steel embedded track and steel undercarriage components are designed for durability and maximum life in aggressive applications.
The D Series models’ sealed and pressurized cab design features a “Cab-One” operator station, a one-piece modular construction.
It is designed to provide optimal sealing, doubling the cab pressurization attained with the previous design and resulting in a cleaner working environment.
Additionally, the improved HVAC system supplies 20% more airflow and approximately a 50% increase in heating and cooling rates.
Many new features have been added to the cab and the operator station. Seat options include a high-back, heated, air-suspension seat with seat-mounted joystick controls. The seat provides additional comfort via recline and lumbar adjustments.
All air-suspension seats feature independent arm bar/joystick control adjustments to allow the machine to be configured for different sizes of operators and different applications. The arrangement also allows the entire seat/joystick control package to move up and down as a unit, minimizing operator fatigue and maximizing comfort.
The standard control monitor provides a single-code security feature to help prevent theft and unwanted operation.
The Advanced Display control monitor expands the number of security (operator) codes to 50 and can store and recall the operating preferences for each one. Such preferences include language, gauge style, ride-control setting, creep speed, top-speed limit, response for the hystat drive system, and response for the implement control system.
It also allows the master-code holder to review operator-specific machine information. The Advanced Display is video capable, supporting an integrated rearview camera, which provides additional work-site visibility to enhance safety, especially when working in tight applications.
Also new in the D Series cab is an electronic dial-type throttle that permits precise rpm settings. When the dial is in the high-idle position, the foot throttles functions as a decelerator pedal, allowing an added degree of control and permitting the operator to quickly modulate travel speed during precise maneuvers or to regulate engine speed when using hydro-mechanical work tools.
A new throttle-smoothing feature monitors accelerator-pedal movement under the operator’s foot when the machine is traveling over rough terrain, and it then clips the extremes of pedal travel to yield steady, even travel speeds.
This feature is designed to add to operator comfort and aid material retention when using the foot throttle.
The D Series models feature the Cat Intelligent Leveling system, which includes dual self-leveling, electronic snubbing, return-to-dig, and work tool positioning. The system electronically and automatically levels the loader linkage when raising and lowering the lift arms, ensuring optimum material retention whether truck loading or handling palletized products.
Electronic snubbing automatically cushions the descent of the lift arms, slowing downward motion just before the arms reach their stops.
The return-to-dig feature allows the operator to set the digging angle of the bucket and then automatically recall the setting by depressing a trigger switch on the joystick as the lift arms lower.
The work tool positioning feature allows the angle of the tool to be pre-set, as when positioning a trencher for the proper depth, and then automatically recall the setting if the machine is repositioned.
Lift arms for all D Series machines feature a tubular design to retain optimal lift characteristics and strength while presenting a narrower profile. The lift arm is designed to improve sight lines to the sides of the machine, the tires and the work-tool/coupler interface to provide enhanced visibility and site safety.
The automatic work-tool coupler is electrically actuated; its design eliminates hoses and connectors and is focused on installation ease in the field.
The D Series models accommodate required emissions controls (diesel particulate filter and diesel oxidation catalyst). There is ground level access to all routine service points, including filters (engine oil, engine air, hydraulic and fuel), battery and engine oil fill and check. The air conditioner condenser is attached to the inside of the engine compartment door, accessible for cleaning or service.
The new models also feature an electric priming pump with automatic air bleed for the fuel system to ease the task of replacing and priming the fuel filter/water separator.
Caterpillar also has introduced four new D Series Skid Steer Loaders and updated two current D Series machines with a redesigned cab, new lift arm design for improved sight lines, and increased engine performance.
The Cat D Series line encompasses six skid steer loader models ranging in rated operating capacity from 1,800 pounds to 3,700 pounds.
The 236D and 242D mid-size frame models can be as narrow as 60 inches.
The 236D has been redesigned to a smaller platform size as a radial-lift-path model that combines compact dimensions with 1,800-pound operating capacity, 123-inch hinge-pin height, 74.3 horsepower gross engine power and peak torque of 195 lb-ft.
The new D Series large frame models are the 246D and 262D with rated operating capacities of 2,150 pounds and 2,700 pounds respectively. The 236D, 242D, 246D, and 262D feature an electronically controlled 3.3-liter engine that meets Tier 4 Final (Stage IIIB) emissions standards. The Cat C3.3B engine provides 74 horsepower with 8% more torque and a 6% increase in fuel economy compared with the previous models.
The largest D Series models, the 272D and 272D XHP, were launched in early 2012 and are powered by an electronically controlled 3.8-liter engine meeting Tier 4 Interim (Stage IIIB) emissions standards.
The Cat C3.8 produces 98 gross horsepower for the 272D and 110 net horsepower for the 272D XHP, which powers an auxiliary hydraulic system producing up to 40 gpm of flow at 4,061 psi. The 272D and 272D XHP also feature new cab environment and features as well as a new lift arm design.
The D Series models skid-steer loaders feature the “Cab-One” design and the same improved HVAC system and comfort features as found on the compact track loaders as well as the code security feature and Advanced Display. The skid-steer loaders also feature an electronic dial-type throttle, Cat Intelligent Leveling system, new lift arms, and coupler and serviceability features.
Additionally, Caterpillar is launching the H2 line of 75-horsepower compact wheel loaders, featuring upgraded engines, a revised loader control valve, standard pilot joystick levers, and simplified auxiliary hydraulic connections.
The 906H2, 907H2, and 908H2 feature the new Cat C3.3B engine, which meets EU stage IIIA emission standards and US Environmental Protection Agency Tier 4 Interim standards.
The 906H2 and 907H2 models incorporate improved torque rise and peak torque to respond faster to operator demand. The engine layout has been rotated 180 degrees to provide easy ground level access for all regular service and maintenance points.
Operator controls are simplified, with a standard pilot joystick control to reduce operator effort, increase lever sensitivity and provide ease of operation.
The loader control valve on the three H2 models is designed to provide improved work tool performance while using hydraulically driven work tools, allowing the operator to simultaneously work the auxiliary circuit while operating the loader arms. This is designed to deliver a significant advantage when using powered work tools such as brooms, snow blowers, and augers.
Attachments are connected to the H2 Series loaders with skid-steer loader style quick coupling with high flow hydraulics. The number of connections on the loader arms has been reduced from seven to three.
Each connector is self-venting, designed to make it easier for the operator to make the hydraulic connection when changing work tools and avoid damage when digging and loading.
Bucket capacities range from 0.9 to 1.1 cubic meters. Operating weight ranges from 12,412 pounds to 14,253 pounds.
In the skid-steer loader and compact track loader category, demand for track machines is growing at a much steeper rate than wheeled machines, notes Jeff S. Brown, compact construction specialist for Caterpillar.
“It is predicted that the demand for these machines will be 50/50 in the industry within the next few years,” he notes. “Customers are simply recognizing the value that the track machine provides and not looking back. For reasons of higher rated operating capacity, more stability, less ground pressure, less ground disturbance, broader range of applications, and better operator comfort, it is no surprise the demand for track machines is growing so fast.”
Cat offers two track platforms. The MTL is designed to be ideal for landscaping/turf applications and optimal performance in snow removal. For most grading and excavation contractors, the Cat CTL offers greater durability to better suit their needs, Brown says.
“The CTL has a steel roller frame design with a steel-embedded rubber track, which delivers very low operating costs,” he says. “Suspension of this undercarriage is key to its customer value as the suspension helps provide longer track life, better traction, better operator comfort and more material retention. The CTL design is fit for a wider range of applications.”
Doing more with less allows contractors to minimize the variety of machines in their fleets, which results in high fleet utilization, Brown points out.
“The right attachments on hand can match most job-site needs and get the most out of compact equipment,” he says, adding that Cat offers a broad portfolio of work tools.
“By utilizing the universal skid-steer loader coupler interface, most tools are shared among all skid-steer loaders, compact track loaders, and multiterrain loader models,” he adds. “For our most powerful models, the 272D XHP and 299D XHP—which achieve nearly 95 hydraulic horsepower—we have developed a dedicated group of high-performance work tools, including brush cutters, mulchers, cold planers, and wheel saws.”
Volvo’s latest introduction to the compact equipment market is the ECR58D and ECR88D short swing radius excavators. They are designed for productivity, stability, ease-of-use, reduced fuel consumption, and safety when working in confined or restricted conditions.
The D-Series excavators also are designed to offer the digging performance, breakout and tear-out forces, and lifting capabilities found in larger excavators.
The ECR58D features a breakout force of 8,950 pounds; a tear-out force of 5,980 pounds for the short arm and 5,060 for the long arm; a maximum digging reach of 19 feet, 8 inches for the short arm and 20 feet, 11 inches for the long arm; and an operating weight of 12,550 to 15,440 pounds.
The ECR88D features a breakout force of 12,860 pounds for the short arm and 12,770 pounds for the long arm; a tear-out force of 8,950 pounds for the short arm and 7,730 pounds for the long arm; a maximum digging reach of 22 feet, 10 inches for the short arm and 24 feet, 1 inch for the long arm; and a maximum digging depth of 13 feet, 17 inches for the short arm and 14 feet, 10 inches for the long arm.
Both models feature automatic two-speed travel for optimal traction and hydraulic travel pedals for ease and accuracy of track control.
The superstructure on the ECR58D and ECR88D is designed to be so compact that its rear swings within its track shoe to allow operators to work extremely close to other objects without collision risk.
The short front/rear radius is suited to working within a single highway lane, minimizing traffic flow disruption.
The excavators feature a reinforced, three-piece, high-tensile steel, X-shaped frame undercarriage. Their bucket and dipper digging forces and digging depth are created to withstand tough working conditions. Optimal hydraulics and pump flow also help provide faster cycle times and enhanced digging performance.
The excavators are available with a mono-boom—or an optional two-piece boom on the ECR88D—several arm configurations and blade. The D-Series also offers a variety of optional quick couplers and a new range of Volvo attachments.
The ECR58D and ECR88D (Tier 4f /Stage IIIB) feature an exhaust-after-treatment system for lower emissions and seamless operation even during regeneration.
The ECR58D is fitted with a four-cylinder engine that produces 50 horsepower, and the ECR88D comes with a four-cylinder, 58-horsepower-output engine.
An auto-idling system reduces engine speed when the controls are inactive
for a period of time that can be preset between three and 20 seconds by the operator to reduce running costs and fuel consumption.
Operator comfort features include an adjustable seat, vibration and noise insulation, ergonomic armrests, intuitively placed controls, and ample legroom.
Safety features include large expanses of flat glass for enhanced visibility from the ROPS-certified cab.
For ease of maintenance, all service and cleaning points are accessible at ground level and grouped together under a wide-opening, lockable hood. Boom and arm greasing points are also designed to be easily accessible with greasing intervals of 10 to 50 hours. An optional Volvo CareTrack remote telematics system provides machine intelligence from fuel consumption monitoring to servicing information.
Volvo also offers the 2.5-ton ECR25D excavator with a total transport weight of 3.5 tons. The excavator features a breakout force of 4,554 pounds; a tear-out force of 3,885 pounds for the short arm and 3,291 pounds for the long arm; a maximum digging reach of 14 feet, 8 inches for the short arm and 15 feet, 8 inches for the long arm; a maximum digging depth of 8 feet, 7 inches for the short arm and 9 feet, 1 inches for the long arm.
The excavator is designed to work in confined areas and urban environments where such tasks as electrical wire installation or water piping repair can be performed quickly with limited impact to the traffic or neighborhood.
Tasks requiring more demanding operations or greater versatility can be accommodated with additional counterweight—the tail radius minimally exceeds track width to prevent collision or damage.
The ECR25D is powered by a fuel-efficient, Tier 4i–certified, 20.9-horsepower engine. An optional auto-idling system, which reduces engine speed when controls are inactive for more than five seconds, offers enhanced fuel efficiency and lower operating costs.
The excavator is designed with an advanced hydraulic system to boost productivity and enhance digging performance. A flow sharing main control valve offers fast cycle times; a load-sensing variable displacement piston pump delivers flow on demand.
Operator comfort features include a large access area with ample foot space so operators can enter and exit the excavator without bumping controls. An adjustable seat, ergonomic armrests and intuitive controls also offer operator comfort.
Slew and offset movements are controlled simultaneously through a proportional roller and joystick. Large hydraulic travel pedals are designed to provide the operator accurate, hands-free track control.
An automatic, two-speed travel function allows the machine to downshift when more effort is required.
Safety features include ample visibility provided to the blade, digging equipment and tracks. Three-point entry and rollover protection is standard in a Volvo cab or canopy.
Ease of maintenance is designed with checkpoints accessible at ground level and grouped under a wide-opening, lockable hood. Greasing is needed every 50 hours. A multifunction hydraulic oil filter/filler is designed to improve protection of the hydraulic system and provide early detection of oil pollutants.
Options include a long arm for enhanced working range or additional rear counterweight for heavy attachments. Work tools can be installed to an optional hydraulic or mechanical attachment carrier.
An optional Volvo CareTrack remote telematics system provides owners information to optimize performance and maximize uptime, including geo-fence, geo-tracking, an engine on/off status monitor, and hourly based work reports.
John Comrie, utility product manager with Volvo Construction Equipment, says the oil and gas industry is providing contractors with immense opportunities to do work with compact equipment. Utility and general construction work in larger cities has also necessitated compact equipment. Underground boring is another growing market segment, he notes.
The short swing radius excavators are favored for their 360-degree swing, rubber tracks, and smaller dimensions that grant them access to tight spots.
“There is a lot of opportunity for the contractors to grow their business,” Comrie says.
The short swing radius excavators are “taking away business from the backhoe loader” because contractors are “wanting to do more and more with smaller machines,” Comrie notes.
“There are more attachments on them. They are more versatile,” he says. “The market for the excavator will continue to grow. A customer that traditionally has four or five backhoes will now have three mini-excavators and maybe one backhoe.”
End users love attachments. Comrie has seen customers who like to design their own attachments to go on top of an excavator.
“One customer in demolition lifts the machine with a helicopter and puts it on top of a building to do demolition work,” he says. “These people are looking for compact ways to do that job so they become more competitive. Customers are looking for ways to make the compact excavator more versatile.”
Comrie says in the compact excavator line, he sees more requests for operators who want the hydraulic attachment carrier and the ability to do flow adjustment from inside the cab as they can do with larger excavators.
Comrie notes that with operators spending more hours inside their excavators, they want the extra comfort.
“They want the coffee cup holder. They want good access to an ISO control pattern selector,” he says.
Air-conditioning is another frequent request. Comrie notes the machines have “good ventilation, good heating systems, better seating, and control levers are better positioned. There are more adjustments. They have become more like their bigger brothers.”
More requests are coming in for such hydraulic and mechanical attachments as thumbs, augers, hammers, tampers, and grapple buckets.
“We’re seeing more requests for grass maintenance for mowers for cutting alongside the highways and bridges,” Comrie says. “Instead of using a tractor, some of these guys are putting a mower on their excavator because it swings 360 degrees and they can actually do a better job on the excavator.”
Marcus Auerbach, director of compact equipment for Wacker Neuson, notes a trend toward specialized equipment to enhance productivity, to rent as needed, and a preference for micro excavators, wheel loaders, wheeled excavators, and dumpers.
Contractors are looking for equipment that provides fuel savings, lower operating costs, a focus on the bottom line, and the ability to fit in with “smart” fleets.
Wacker Neuson takes a two-pronged approach to the compact equipment market.
“One the one side, we’re trying to meet the standard demand for the staples that you have to have,” says Auerbach. “You have to have your mini-excavator and skid-steer lines. But we also have some machines that are extremely popular in Europe and not well known in North America.”
Among those pieces of equipment is the compact wheel loader.
The company’s wheel loader offerings include eight models, ranging from 4,400 pounds to 9,100 pounds straight tip load and 48 to 75 horsepower. Also available is a telescopic model with lift heights up to 15 feet and a high-flow machine with 33-gpm auxiliary flow for high-powered attachments.
Europeans have embraced the machines for their many benefits: boosting productivity, saving money on the job, increasing the ease of the job, and speed of completion.
“At the end of the day, it improves the bottom line,” Auerbach points out.
Wacker Neuson is positioning the compact wheel loaders next to a skid-steer with the goal of using the same attachments and making the machine interchangeable, says Auerbach.
“Depending on the job, a contractor can take either the skid-steer or the wheel loader, and they both can handle the same work tools,” he says. “Contractors can use all of their existing attachments with our wheel loaders. Just hook them up through the universal quick attach. They can literally take an attachment off of a skid-steer and pick it up with a wheel loader and continue the work.”
While contractors choose skid-steers for a multitude of applications, “we think there are 15 to 20% of the applications where a skid-steer is not the best tool and the compact wheel loader will do a better job,” says Auerbach.
“It will not tear up the ground because it has wheels like in a car rolling freely, so you save on restoration work after the job,” he says. “There is a smaller engine. You don’t need to skid your tires to make a turn. The steering has been built into the machine. You have quite substantial fuel savings. Some of our customers’ fuel savings actually exceeded 1,000 gallons per year.”
The compact wheel loader has a longer tire life, Auerbach says. He knows of some end users who have put more than 2,000 to 4,000 hours on their machine and are still on their first set of tires.
“On skid-steers, that can be as little as 400 or 500 hours in an abrasive environment,” he says.
At the end of the day, compact wheel loaders are built “very much like the big wheel loaders” with about twice the lifespan of a skid-steer and the ability to maintain good operation conditions to last longer on the job and save money, Auerbach says.
Operators who spend eight hours a day in a skid-steer know that operator comfort is valuable,” he points out. “The wheel loader provides a comfort level, and you can see 360 degrees for perfect visibility all over the machine.”
Municipalities favor the versatility of the wheel loaders for snow removal applications and year-round use, Auerbach says.
“They need a machine that can clean a sidewalk and spread salt in one pass,” he says. “They’re looking for an economical solution. The nice thing about the wheel loader is it does a really good job in the winter with a snow blower. Once winter is over, they can just put on the pallet forks, a dirt bucket or a broom and use it for yard work, maintenance work, gravel, stone, mulching. Whatever municipalities typically do, the wheel loader is perfect for those applications as well. It becomes a year-round machine, and they get a lot more mileage out of that investment than they would if they just had a dedicated snow removal machine.”
Wacker Neuson has started importing medium-size dumpers, which serve as material haulers. The company offers three models that range from a capacity of 1 to 4.2 cubic yards, or 1.5 to 6 tons, an engine performance of 23 to 64 horsepower, and a travel speed of up to 15.5 mph.
All dumpers come with four-wheel drive and a fully hydrostatic transmission, “making them extremely easy to operate and very reliable work horses,” says Auerbach. The 180-degree power swivel dump bucket allows contractors to fill trenches next to the machine.
It is designed to move four yards of payload with ease across a job site. It is available in a ROPS or heated cab version.
“It’s a very interesting concept in many European countries that they are the first machine to go on the job and the last machine to leave,” notes Auerbach.
“A dumper is very efficient,” he adds. “In extreme off-road conditions, they can go through mud and negotiate steep inclines. It’s almost impossible for a dumper to get stuck.”
While they’ve been a popular addition to a rental fleet, Wacker Neuson is also now selling more of them to contractors, Auerbach says.
Smaller-sized wheeled excavators, which Auerbach describes as “mini-excavators on wheels” have become another popular choice on the job site.
Wacker Neuson offers two compact excavator models on wheels, a 6-ton and a 9-ton, with dig depths of 11 feet, 7 inches to 13 feet.
“They have a huge advantage in that they can travel on the road by themselves—they don’t need a truck and a trailer,” says Auerbach. “They can go up to 25 miles an hour and within city limits, you can be anywhere around town and start digging instead of loading a machine on a trailer, which is a real time saver.
“Oftentimes in a very confined urban environment, you don’t have the room to park the truck and trailer to unload because you block the traffic. Wheeled excavators make a lot of sense in an urban environment.”
In a situation of a broken water main that requires a quick response, for example: “To get there quickly, the operator can drive to the site and start working. By the time you would normally be done loading the machine on the trailer and chaining it down, the guy on the wheeled excavator is already working on the job.”
Essentially, an environment drives the use of all of these machines where contractors are in intense competition for work following the financial meltdown.
Auerbach calls it the “new normal.”
“Bonding requirements go up and profit margins are going down, so they are looking for ways on how to use equipment in a smarter way and really optimize the bottom line,” he says. “Having the most specialized piece of equipment on the job oftentimes helps to do just that.”
Auerbach is noting a constant increase in the rental market.
“When you talk about specialized equipment, it just makes sense for contractors to rent machines,” he says. “Our dumpers are a perfect example. It’s a new concept. Contractors don’t really have experience with it, so they rent the machine first and see how it fits into their process and speeds up the job. They just want to try it out, so they rent the machine.”
“Now that the economy is finally pulling out of the trough that we’ve been in over the last couple of years, a lot of contractors who had been maintaining existing products that were aging are now considering replacing them, so sales are definitely on the upswing,” notes George Chaney, skid-steer loader international sales manager for JCB, adding that he sees a definite move toward more compact equipment.
“People who had larger machines are recognizing the benefits of having a skid-steer, a track loader, and a mini-excavator working together in more tight, confining job sites and also in wet, muddy environments,” he adds. “We’ve definitely seen a trend more towards the compact track loaders because of the versatility and increased productivity these machines provide.”
Globally, the compact track loader market is up 15% over last year, Chaney says.
Landscaping is the most popular application for the machines; the agricultural sector also is a significant market. Industrial applications are taking an increasing hold.
JCB has launched its new large-platform Tier 4 engine.
Popular among its offerings are the 260 skid-steers and track loaders with a 74-horsepower engine, 24/33 hydraulic flow gallons per minute, and an SAE-rated operating capacity of 2,600 pounds.
Popular mini-excavators are the 8040ZTS, with a 45-horsepower engine, an operating weight of 9,480 pounds, and a digging depth of 11 feet, 7 inches, and the 8045ZTS, with a 45-horsepower engine, an operating weight of 10,472 pounds, and a digging depth of 12 feet, 3 inches.
Also attractive to contractors is the 515-40 telescopic handler, with a gross power of 50 horsepower, a 3,300-pound maximum lifting capacity, and a 13-foot, 3-inch maximum lifting height. The company’s 524-50, offers a gross output of 74 horsepower, a 5,000-pound maximum lifting capacity, and a 17-foot, 4-inch maximum lifting height.
JCB’s line of skid-steers and compact track loaders features the PowerBoom, designed as a single boom arm on the right side of the machine “so operators don’t have to climb over the front of large, cumbersome attachments, which not only is time-consuming but dangerous,” Chaney points out.
The machines have a left-side entry and a larger cab, he adds.
“With that extra room, operators are more comfortable. And when they’re more comfortable, they’re more productive,” Chaney says.
The single boom design also offers more visibility to enhance safety, he adds.
“That also provides better productivity because you can see and operate more confidently,” Chaney says.
JCB offers 31 different types of attachments.
Cabs have heat and air conditioning and are sealed and pressurized for a quiet and comfortable work environment, Chaney says.
“We have almost eliminated dust and dirt ingress,” he adds. “We also have features such as high flow for larger attachments, two-speed travel, and the Smooth Ride System.
“That provides boom suspension so someone can travel over rough terrain and it maintains a full bucket-load of material,” says Chaney. “It also provides for a smoother ride.”
Among Takeuchi Manufacturing’s offerings to the compact equipment market is the new TB260 excavator and TL10 track loaders.
The TB260 hydraulic excavator has a redesigned exterior to provide a more modern appearance, better visibility, and improved service access.
The interior features a multifunction monitor and switch panel, electronic throttle control, and pilot controls with dual proportional slide switches to control auxiliary hydraulic functions.
The TB260 has a turbo-charged 47-horsepower engine that is Final Tier 4 compliant with the latest EPA emissions requirements. It has an operating weight of 12,900 pounds, a digging depth of 12 feet, 9.4 inches, a reach of 20 feet, 6.9 inches, and a bucket breakout force of 12,756 pounds.
The TL10 compact track loader, one of the newest track loaders the company offers, has an operating weight of 10,318 pounds, a 92-horsepower engine, a rated operating capacity of 2,403 pounds, a tipping load of 6,867 pounds, and a bucket breakout force of 7,400 pounds.
An Eco Mode feature enables operators to reduce fuel consumption.
A selectable attachment control system provides three adjustable attachment settings to program attachment-specific hydraulic flow rates from the operator’s seat. The TL10 also features a standard 14-pin connector, multifunction control handle, fingertip proportional controls, and available high-flow system with a second auxiliary hydraulic circuit.
The interior features a fully adjustable high-back suspension seat, a roll-up door, and improved HVAC performance. Its cab is now pressurized, ride performance is improved, and the controls have been enhanced.
A pattern-change selector valve on the pilot controls is available on the TL10, allowing the operator to quickly and easily change from standard ISO Takeuchi controls to an “H” control pattern.
The TL10 features a fully welded, purpose-built frame with integrated cross-members and an undercarriage that maintains steel-to-steel contact between the large, heavy-duty rollers.
Forged steel imbeds are incorporated into the rubber track. Double reduction planetary drives are positioned rearward, allowing more contact points between the sprocket and the track for traction forces and better track durability.
“As the housing market rebounds and inventory is returning to lower levels, there are more spec homes starting up and there are more contractors finishing off developments, doing landscape, utility and flat work,” points out Kim Robinson, director of sales for Takeuchi.
“This has created a demand for adding to their equipment fleets for track loaders, skid-steers, and mini-excavators. Rental companies have had an increase in demand with utilization increasing, filling a demand for short-term usage of compact equipment.”
Robinson has noted a “dramatic increase” in purchases of track loaders and mini-excavators as contractors’ business has returned and they analyze purchasing versus renting in dealing with the long backlog of work.
Owners and operators are demanding comfort when compact equipment is a primary piece of the work crew equipment, says Robinson.
“As such, you are seeing more cab/AC units being sold with controls and instrumentation highlighting the machines’ performance,” he says.
The growth in high-flow attachments is creating demand for high-flow hydraulics on skid-steer loaders and track loaders, Robinson says.
“Also, Roadliner tracks on mini-excavators are giving the mini more versatility on various ground conditions while providing longer life than rubber tracks,” he adds.
The most requested attachments for skid-steers and track loaders are grapples, “Harley Rakes,” trenchers, augers, asphalt cold planers, and brush mowers, says David Steger, national product manager for Takeuchi.
“For excavators, you see a lot of thumbs, tilt buckets, hydraulic couplers used to easily switch attachments, augers, breakers, and brush mowers,” he says, adding there are more specialized attachments available to help complete most any task with ease.
Small, powerful types of equipment such as compact excavators are extremely versatile and well suited for landscaping projects large and small, particularly for residential projects, points out Keith Rohrbacker, Kubota construction equipment product manager.
“Compact excavators, such as Kubota’s KX018-4, allow the landscape contractor to easily move around any work area while conducting a variety of landscaping construction jobs,” he says. “Kubota’s KX018-4 in particular features a variable track width to allow access to really tight spaces, like through a garden gate, while still having excellent stability when working.”
The utility construction market segment is Kubota’s fourth most popular customer application, Rohrbacker says.
“Using sales to this segment as an indicator, demand is increasing, but at an uneven pace,” he says. “Customers tell us that there are jobs available, but the irregular pace of housing starts and the reduction in infrastructure funding have placed limits on future opportunities.”
Rohrbacker says he hopes this year will bring a more steady improvement in infrastructure spending and housing starts.
Echoing that of others in the industry, comfort items are widely embraced by compact excavator operators with increased productivity being a benefit.
“To help ensure optimum operator safety on job sites when operating a Kubota compact excavator, all canopy and cab models feature a ROPS/FOPS certification,” says Rohrbacker. “Kubota’s newest compact excavators also feature full suspension seats and digital display panels to provide vital information at a glance, including notifying the operator when maintenance is due. These are all standard features.”
The most popular option is the air-conditioned, ROPS/FOPS certified cab. Kubota’s compact excavator cabs feature large operator space, wide cab doors for entry and exit, and optimal legroom.
Kubota’s U35-4 tight tail swing compact excavator is equipped with the same cab space as a larger 5-ton excavator and features a larger entrance, deluxe suspension seat, air conditioning, easy-open front slide window, ample legroom, new digital panel and enhanced ergonomics for optimal operator comfort.
In addition to reduced-emissions Tier IV engine upgrades, Kubota also has introduced the Eco Plus system on its four new excavators, KX040-4 and larger.
“Eco Plus allows our customers to select ‘eco mode’ when fuel conservation is a priority, offering fuel savings of up to 20%,” says Rohrbacker. “For applications that require full power, the operator can switch to standard mode and still experience improved efficiency, plus lower fuel consumption than the prior models.”
Kubota’s auto idling system also conserves fuel, Rohrbacker says.
“When the control levers are in the neutral position for more than four seconds, the engine rpm automatically idles,” he says. “Move any control lever and the engine rpm immediately returns to the preset level.”
The feature is designed to reduce noise and exhaust emissions while reducing operating costs, he adds.
While Kubota has featured proportional control of auxiliary hydraulic circuits for some time due to the popularity of its hydraulic thumbs, included in the digital control panel are attachment presets that complement the proportional controls.
“Even if the battery is disconnected, the system remembers flow settings for easy selection the next time the attachment is used,” Rohrbacker says.
The most requested attachment is the angle blade, which is designed to improve productivity, saving up to 60% of backfilling time. Kubota offers an angle blade option on all excavators greater than 10,000 pounds.
It also offers a six-way dozer blade on the 9,815-pound KX121-3.
“Our customers have traditionally purchased demolition attachments for repairs and remodels,” Rohrbacker says. “These applications are often in tight spaces where compact equipment can maneuver more easily than full size machinery.”
Kubota offers hydraulic breakers for its tractor loader backhoes, compact track loaders, and compact excavators.
“Compact excavators seem to match up to breaker applications so well because they are available in a variety of sizes,” Rohrbacker says. “We have an excavator that can fit through doorways so that contractors can work inside buildings, for example. Larger excavators have the power to break through thicker concrete and more dense materials.”
Other considerations include 360-degree rotation of the compact excavator’s upper structure and long reach.
“These features allow the operator to quickly reposition the breaker without repositioning the machine, increasing efficiency and productivity,” Rohrbacker says.
The company offers a complete line of hydraulic breakers matched to its individual compact machinery, designed with 30% fewer parts than others and allowing the lighter weight breaker to fit in tight places, he adds.
Not everyone is quick to buy in this market. Tonya Bair, owner of Bair Products—a manufacturer of aftermarket undercarriage parts—says many customers are keeping older, paid-off machines and overhauling the undercarriages with newer aftermarket parts that are more heavy duty than the original parts.
“That will allow the machine to be upgraded to a newer style of undercarriage that will last longer,” she says, adding that the parts are designed to work with factory parts to enable end users to fix only the parts that need fixing.
Bair cites one instance in which an end user purchased an older Caterpillar 257B machine “as is” and upgraded it to have an undercarriage of a newer style machine, the Caterpillar 257 B Series 2 Model.
Bair aftermarket products that can enhance the life and performance of compact equipment include a hub-style wheel kit, Larry Lugs, rubber track installations, a Super Two Bolt-on Wheel kit, and a hydraulic track tensioner.
Sam Norwood, commercial worksite products sales manager for John Deere Construction & Forestry, says pressurized cabs and suspension seats continue to grow in popularity to provide operators with a clean and comfortable operating environment.
“Low-effort EH joystick controls are also becoming very common to reduce operator fatigue,” he adds. “Variable speed fans and auto-idle are also becoming standard to reduce operator and bystander noise.”
Norwood says the company also is noting a substantial increase in the adaptation of low-effort electronic hydraulic joystick controls with added features of creep control and adjustable joystick sensitivity to optimize the functions of the machine to the application and to the operator.
The most requested mini-excavator in Hyundai’s lineup is the R35Z-9 model, a zero tail swing model designed with a Yammer 3TNV88 three-cylinder engine with 26.5 horsepower (19.8 kW) at 2,200 rpm. The engine meets Tier 4 Interim regulations.
Its operating weight is 8,050 pounds, designed to make it easily towable. The mini-excavator has a maximum dig depth of 10 feet, 4 inches, a maximum dumping height of 11 feet, 4 inches, and a digging force of 7,050 lb-ft.
“This state-of-the art excavator is ideal for the landscape contractor, as it can remove smaller brush and trees/stumps as well as for prepping the site for retaining walls, exaction of small ponds, etc.,” says Shane Sirmons, Hyundai’s business development manager.
“Utility and excavating contractors can use the R35Z-9 for excavating trenches for smaller diameter conduit and light demolition work such as breaking up concrete, asphalt, and rocks.”
As for comfort items, end users are embracing the many standard features Hyundai offers on the R35Z-9, such as an all-weather steel cab, safety glass windows, centralized monitoring, radio/USB player, adjustable wrist rests, mechanical suspension seat with seat belt, warning lamps, and a pattern-changer valve allowing operators to use controls that are most comfortable and normal for them, notes Sirmons.
Attachments add versatility to an excavator, Sirmons points out. “The R35Z-9 can be fitted with hydraulic hammers and thumbs for demolition work, various size augers for posthole projects, and tilt-bucket attachments that are ideal for V-ditching and sloping.”