How To Choose The Right Compact Excavator

August 2014, Vol. 69, No. 8

Compact excavators are more powerful, productive and durable than ever before, enhancing their usefulness on construction jobs from site development to roadwork.

Bobcat Excavator Product Specialist Tom Connor has some recommendations on how to choose the perfect compact excavator and get the most out of this hard-working machine.

Fleet managers and construction business owners alike are determining that an investment in a compact excavator provides a versatile and mobile solution – and a viable alternative to tractor loader backhoes – for a wide variety of jobsite tasks including augering, grading, hardscaping, trenching, land clearing, lifting and much more.

“Due to their compact size and their potential for a high rate of return, this class of excavators is an appealing acquisition for construction equipment fleets,” says Connor. “Their fuel consumption, as much as 40 percent less [than a larger piece of equipment] in an eight-hour workday, further minimizes your cost of ownership.”

Another factor to take into consideration before purchase is the jobsite. “One of the most important worksite dimensions to evaluate is size, which can often dictate the accessibility and maneuverability requirements of construction equipment,” says Connor. “For this reason, construction contractors gravitate to compact excavator models when larger machines like tractor loader backhoes are too cumbersome.”

Although a compact excavator may be ideal for an operation, manufacturers know owners can’t afford to trade size for performance, which is why some companies are engineering their models with advanced hydraulic systems for improved production and efficiency.

Configured for construction

Since compact excavators first entered the North American construction market in the mid-1980s, tail swing design has grown from conventional to include minimal and zero swing. “These three configurations provide operators with a [swing design] choice that best suits their needs,” says Connor. Each option presents pros and cons, and taking those into consideration before purchase is key to choosing an excavator best suited to the job.