Mini Excavators: Small size, big popularity

By Belinda Smart18 March 2021

Rental ready: Mini-excavators are suited to a cost-constrained rental market, writes Belinda Smart

In a cost-constrained rental market, mini-excavators are a versatile, low-investment option.

The economic constraints of Covid-19 mean mini-excavators’ popularity with rental companies and their customers is on the rise; they require relatively low investment and can be put to work on wide ranging projects. Suppliers are responding to demand for new size options, ease of operation and low emissions.

Small excavator, big impact

Cat’s new 306 CR mini hydraulic excavator has been designed to meet demand for a vehicle between the 5 and 8-tonne models, says Alex MacDonald, Product Application Specialist for Mini-Excavators.

“Caterpillar Rental customers want a machine close to an 8-tonne but in a 5-tonne size package. The 306 CR fills this gap.”

It features full hydraulic control adjustability as “a distinct advantage for operators, especially in the rental sector, when they can be on a different machine every day,” says MacDonald.

“In addition, operators can set the machine to the task in hand, for example, aggressively for trenching and with fine control when grading.

Cat 306 CR Next Gen mini excavator The new Cat 306 CR Next Gen mini excavator – a versatile workhorse.

The 306 CR as with other Next Gen mini excavators in the range are ideal for rental where a wide variety of jobs are performed by one machine.”

“Another advantage for the rental sector is greater parts commonality, meaning easier parts distribution, time savings and lower owning and operating costs. Those savings can be passed on directly to the rental customers.”

“The rental customers I’ve talked to, really like the performance and what strike them are the lifting capabilities, digging performance, comfort and manoeuvrability in a machine that size.”

Stage V on the rise

Meanwhile Bobcat has launched the company’s new R2-Series generation of 5-6 tonne Stage V compliant mini-excavators – the E50z, E55z and E60 models.

The R2-Series machines offer Advanced Selectable Auxiliary Control (A-SAC) system and Automatic Track Tensioning System (ATTS) technology. The R2-Series mini-excavators now has Stage V high torque diesel engines and DPF, allowing use in emission-regulated zones.

Doosan DX57W-7 Doosan’s new 5 tonne DX57W-7 Stage V compliant wheeled excavator.

Robert Husar, Product Line Director for Bobcat Mini Excavators in EMEA, says highlights of the range include the E50z and E55z, Bobcat’s unique Zero House Swing (ZHS) feature adds protection to the standard zero tail swing design for operating the machine near walls.

He describes the ZHS model as an easy-to-use, robust machine for the rental

Also Stage V compliant is Doosan’s 5 tonne DX57W-7 Stage V compliant wheeled excavator, offering features such as the option of a new all-round view camera and ultrasonic detection of obstacles.

Shared economy

The Hitachi ZX55U – a stage V option in the 4-6 tonne category. The Hitachi ZX55U – a stage V option in the 4-6 tonne category.

Hitachi introduced Stage V compliant Zaxis-6 mini excavators in 2019 and the range comprises, in the less than two-tonnes category: ZX10U-6, ZX17U-6, ZX19U-6, ZX19; in the 2-4 tonnes category ZX26U-6, ZX33U-6, ZX38U-6; and in the 4-6 tonne category ZX48U-6, ZX55U-6, ZX65USB-6.

The Hitachi ZX55U The Hitachi ZX55U – a stage V option in the 4-6 tonne category.

Seigo Yamamoto, HCME Compact Product Manager, says Hitachi’s new mini excavators “can be easily transported from one job site to another on a trailer (2.6-tonne models and smaller).

This makes them ideal for the rental industry and perfectly suited to the sharing economy.”

Looking ahead, compact construction equipment could be available via the sharing economy business model sooner than expected, and Yamamoto says HCME is currently considering how to develop such a platform via an app or website for customers. Such innovations ensure demand for mini-excavators will in a climate where agility is key.

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