The utility of the compact excavator – otherwise known as a mini excavator – has led to their increasing popularity on jobsites everywhere, from landscaping to demolition to excavation projects. As more contractors understand the many benefits of adding a compact excavator to their fleet, they are looking to manufacturers to deliver additional machine features and specifications to fit their jobsite demands.
With all the different sizes, options and configurations, how do you find the machine that’s right for you? Consider these factors to get started.
Start by asking yourself why you need a compact excavator. If you frequently rent compact excavators or hire subcontractors who use them, look closely at the tasks they perform. This will help you anticipate what you need from a machine of your own. Also consider how adding a variety of attachments to your compact excavator could create new business opportunities.
Size is one of the most important specifications to consider when comparing models. Each jobsite demands different features from a compact excavator. If you work in confined areas like residential properties or commercial jobsites, every inch matters.
But height, width and weight are only part of the equation. Tail swing configuration is another feature to assess before committing to a machine. Zero tail swing and minimal tail swing allow more unrestricted rotation when working close to structures or against a wall. If you anticipate routine work where you or your operators must pass through narrow property lines or gates, a conventional tail swing may be a better fit.
Bobcat also offers a retractable undercarriage in select models when you need a machine that won’t sacrifice over-the-side lift capacity for accessibility through tight entryways like fence gates.
The weight of your machine is also important when it comes to transporting to and from jobsites. Double-check the weight limits of any vehicle you plan to use, and think about how you plan to haul your excavator before selecting a machine size.
Standard arm configurations come with every excavator model, giving you maximum breakout force and lifting ability with greater digging performance. However, if you need greater reach and dig depth, equip your excavator with a long-arm option. Extra reach, combined with higher dump height allows you to do more work without repositioning the machine and helps load trucks easier. The long-arm option includes additional counterweight to enhance your excavator’s lifting capabilities.
If you need even more reach, some manufacturers offer a clamp-ready extendable arm option for select compact excavators. It offers the best of both worlds: power and lifting performance, combined with the ability to extend the machine's dig depth and reach when you need it.
Next you should consider the specific tasks you need a compact excavator to perform. Smaller models like the E10 and E20 can bring precision and power to confined areas, but they will offer less digging force and lower lift capacity than midsize excavators. Larger compact models like the E85 can push through more demanding tasks with powerful hydraulics and fast cycle times. At this stage of the decision-making process, pay attention to specifications like horsepower, rated lift capacity, digging force and dig depth.
When it comes down to it, specifications can only tell you so much. The best way to choose from a long list of compact excavator options is to get in the operator’s seat. Operating a machine in common applications like loading trucks or trenching can help you get a feel for how it performs. This can help you make the final call on what machine is right for you.
With these considerations in mind, you can find a compact excavator with the right combination of power, performance and size for your work. Get started and browse our full line of compact excavators or contact your Bobcat dealer to request a demo.