Compact Excavators Noted For Practicality, Flexibility

By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | February 2011, Vol. 66 No. 2

For utility work, popular attachments include augers, breakers and clamps, used in conjunction with buckets to remove debris. The variety of buckets is important and users want to be able to change attachments quickly and easily.

There has been a revolution in Bobcat’s line of compact excavators over the past three years with most models incorporating features of our M Series with changes that enhance performance, operator comfort and up time. They bring compact excavators to the next level of sophistication.

New hydraulic systems use engine horsepower more efficiently to do more work while some models burn as much as 20 percent less fuel; pivot points last longer and are easier to maintain; controls are arranged for ease of operation, and ergonomic features make the operator more comfortable. Demand is growing for climate-controlled cabs and other convenience options, and a comfortable operator is a more productive operator.

Compact excavators are popular rental machines. We don’t have hard figures on the actual number of rental machines in the workforce today. During my 20 years in the industry, I’ve seen rental demand come and go, decline, and then come back again.

As popular as compact excavators are, their capabilities are not universally understood
by equipment users. To really understand how effective they can be it is necessary to see them on the job. Renting is a good way to check out a machine, and initially the rental market was a factor in getting machines out and working. We would find renters would rent, like the machines, rent for longer periods, and then decide to buy. That still occurs today.

In economic downturns with workloads uncertain, renting allows contractors to rent the equipment they need and return it when the job is over, avoiding long-term purchase obligations.

Case Construction Equipment, Curtis Goettel, marketing manager: Compact excavators are most often used in traditional backhoe applications (trenching, foundation excavation, patio, sidewalk and hardscape installation, etc).
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Compact excavators are economical to operate, and they can fit in places where loader/backhoes and mid-sized excavators can't. Their rubber tracks (versus wheels) provide very low ground pressure; so they won’t tear up the existing landscapes. Tracks provide the same benefit when operating on dirt, mud and wet areas, whether digging or grading. Their overall versatility allows them to be used in many different applications and operate at low costs per hour during their life cycle.