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Buying a mini digger isn’t an exact science – there is no general agreement on what makes a mini-digger. It’s clear that a 0.8 ton machine is a mini excavator, but as we go up the weight range, some manufacturers and operators start to use the term midi-diggers. Let’s not even start on micro-diggers. We all know what they are for – smaller excavation works, domestic house building and renovation, landscaping projects – the list is endless. The question is when does a mini digger grow up to become a ‘proper’ excavator. JCB claim that their 10-tonne compact excavator machines fall into the category of mini-excavators, but most other manufacturers draw the line at around 5.5 tonnes, like Komatsu whilst Kubota stretch to 8 tonnes. A mini-digger will hold value extremely well in the second hand market if looked after. Look for a machine that has been well serviced and not had to work too hard for its living in first life.
The mini digger sector is one of the most competitive areas of the world market for construction machinery estimates of its value are in the $6 billion annually. Buyers can choose from more than 20 major manufacturers with more coming to the market. There are approximately 200,000 sold worldwide each year which makes it the largest sector of the annual 700,000-unit construction equipment market.
Typically a mini excavator will operate on tracks – they are essentially mini-crawler excavators. This makes them more stable when digging, compared to a backhoe loader, for example.
The digging efficiency is greater than for a wheeled machine because there is no need to deploy the stabilisers prior to starting to dig.
Mini diggers are not just about digging. They are available with a host of alternative attachments that means that they can apply themselves to a wide range of tasks – hydraulic breakers is one such example of a useful attachment.
A tail swing excavator is the traditional, more commonplace excavator where the rear of the machine protrudes from the width of the tracks when operating sideways on. When working at the roadside or in tight spaces, this gives the operator something extra to think about and could lead to potential accidents.
A zero swing mini digger avoids the rear of the cab and counterweight swinging beyond the extremities of the outer tracks.
Model numbers often give away whether a digger is a zero swing (will have a ‘Z’ in it like the JCB 8025 ZTS) whereas you may find a ‘C’ for conventional excavator.
There are often jobs that have limited access – in fact there may only be access through a back gate or even a front door. Consider jobs in urban environments where a terraced house may have a huge excavation requirement in the back garden, but has no access other than through the house!
In these cases the width of the mini digger is crucial. Take Caterpillar’s smallest machine, the 300.9D for example. The overall width is just 730mm which means it should fit comfortably through most front doors in the UK. Looking at JCB’s smallest mini excavator the 8008, this conventional tailswing micro excavator it is even narrower at just 700mm with the tracks retracted. When the digging area is reached, these tracks can be widened for increased stability to 865mm. With a digging depth of 1.7 metres, this machine can get the job done ten times faster than manual digging alone – worth every penny to avoid the back-breaking manual digging jobs!
These tiny mini diggers are often called micro excavators or micro diggers, but they can definitely save huge amounts of time on excavator work in confined spaces or with restricted access.
The electric range from JCB and Caterpillar starts at larger models that are up to 1 metre wide. However, electric micro excavators are available, including the Bobcat E10e which has a retracted width of just 710mm and extends to a 1100mm width for silent and emission free operation. Using electric mini diggers for these types of jobs in restricted areas makes perfect sense as it makes it a much better environment to work in plus there is no need to spend additional money on extraction systems.
There are also hybrid excavators that have a diesel engine that can drive and power the machine, but it can also be powered by an external source feeding the machine electricity from outside. Examples of these types of machines are the Takeuchi TB216 Hybrid excavator and the Caterpillar 300.9D VPS (Versatile Power System).
It makes perfect sense do operate an electric mini excavator where possible. Zero emissions on-site is the number one advantage for the environment – especially when working in confined spaces. However, there are plenty of other reasons to opt for an electric model. The machines operate almost silently, which can really help out on an internal job – especially where there are multiple machines in operation. Consider the refuelling as well. No need for fuel bowsers or messy fuel cans on site – as long as there is a power source, these machines can be charged overnight. Take the JCB 19C-IE electric mini digger, it can be recharged using 110, 230 and 415 volts inputs and can work for a full five hours before requiring a recharge. Using a 3-phase 415V charger the machine can be fully recharged from empty in just 2.5 hours – a normal power supply can reach 80% in five hours and at 110V you will have to leave it overnight for ten hours to get to 80%.
Volvo CE also make a couple of models of electric mini digger, the ECR18 Electric and the larger ECR25 that at the moment (March 2023) are available to reserve, whereas JCB and Bobcat have plenty electric mini diggers in operation. The Volvos are the widest of the popular electric models available at present at 1352mm against the tiny Bobcat’s 710 and the JCB’s 980. All three of these are conventional tailswing versions. If you are looking for a zero tailswing electric mini digger then you should turn to the Wacker Neuson EZ17E. This machine excels with the highest travel speed of its immediate competitors (4.5kph) plus largest arm tearout (9.1kN) and bucket breakout (20.5kN).
Volvo also manufacture the larger ECR25 with an operating weight from 2680 to 2780kg. This machine can run for up to four hours before recharging and takes just 50 minutes to get back to 80% again. With digging depth of down to nearly three metres, this machine is a proper excavator.
There are more models due to hit the market soon, including Takeuchi’s TB20e. the manufacturer claims that this machine will be able to operate continuously for up to eight hours. The operator has the opportunity to tether the machine to a power supply and keep working. Using the three-phase power, the machine is back to a full charge in a maximum of four hours.
JN Bentley, a national civil engineering, building and MEICA contractor, which is part of the Mott MacDonald Group, is making waves in the construction and engineering industry. With an unwavering commitment to safety and quality, the company, with roots in Skipton, but now operating UK-wide, has cultivated a lasting partnership with PV Dobson and Kubota, setting a high standard for excellence in the field. For almost two decades, JN Bentley has been a loyal client of PV Dobson, a reputable dealer of Kubota excavators. This partnership has seen JN Bentley grow into one of PV Dobson’s most significant customers, boasting…>
Kubota has sponsored this years ‘Micro-Excavator Operator of the Year’ category at the UK Plant Operator of the Year 2023 competition, hosted by UK Plant Operators Magazine in partnership with the CITB and Morris Leslie. For the first time ever, the competition included a challenge specifically for micro-excavator operators. As part of its sponsorship of the event, Kubota supplied one of its leading servo controlled U10-5 micro-excavators for the competition, which was used in both the July semi-finals and the grand final which took place in September. Andrew Walker, the first-ever winner of the Micro-Excavator Operator of the Year category,…>
Hodgson Tool Hire, one of the leading independent hire firms in the North West of England, has expanded its mini-excavator fleet with the purchase of nine new Kubota machines throughout 2023 due to increased customer demand. Established in 1997, Hodgson Tool Hire is a family run business with depots in Burscough and Ainsdale. With the nine new Kubota additions, consisting of U17, U27 and K008-5 machines, Hodgson Tool Hire now boasts an 18 strong excavator fleet and has more than 50 plant items on hire throughout the North West of England. Callum Hodgson, Branch Manager at Hodgson Tool Hire, said:…>
Malcolm Harrison have a whole series of Hitachi ZX33U-6 mini diggers going through their Prees Plant sale on Saturday November 4th in Shropshire. There's viewing on the Thursday and Friday before and bidding can be carried out online. There's more than 70 items of plant going under the hammer that day, well worth a look at the inventory online. Remember, there's always tonnes of farm machinery for sale at our sister site www.farmmachinerypages.co.uk If you are looking for trucks and trailers for sale then head to www.truckpages.co.uk Also check out the rest of the photo lineages for a great choice…>
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