How to buy - Mini-excavators

Weight, ease of control and adaptability are key factors when selecting these machines, says Sally Drury.

Hanix H17D has a shorter turning radius for digging tasks - image: Hanix Europe
Hanix H17D has a shorter turning radius for digging tasks - image: Hanix Europe

See full mini-excavator specifications and machine listings at

Q: What features should I consider when buying or hiring a mini-excavator?

A: There is a bewildering choice of machines and options, but the main considerations should focus on matching a machine to your site and the job in hand. If you are working in a confined space you will need a small machine, perhaps with zero tail-swing if you need to work close to a building or fence line. Think about how you will transport it and what kind of access the site has. Digging depth must also match your needs.

Q: What is new in the 1.5t class?

A: The Hanix D-Series machines are 1.5t mini-excavators and, being easy to transport and simple to operate, are aimed at the hire market.

The H16D and H17D are not zero-tail machines, but are compact and have a shortened turning radius for serious digging on urban sites and in garden areas where space is limited. The H17D is an extendible track version of the H16D and comes with long dipper arm as standard.

With a width of just 99cm, both machines can be transported on a standard trailer and will fit through narrow entrances. The tracks and dozer blade on the H17D extend to 130cm for stability. Digging depth is a fraction under 250cm and dump height 244cm. Power comes from an 11.4kW Kubota diesel engine.

The cab on these new Hanix minis has been designed to give more legroom and all-round visibility. It has a wide doorway for easy entry and exit. A fully-adjustable fabric seat is linked with joystick controls and includes a soft wrist-support.

The H16D and H17D feature two-speed travel and straight-line tracking is selected at the touch of a button. PTO and boom-swing speed is proportionally adjusted by a thumb-operated switch on the joystick.

With durability and safety in mind, Hanix designers put the boom cylinder above the boom where it is protected from damage when digging. Hydraulic bucket hoses are protected by routing through the upper-boom section and dipper arm.

The wrap-around counterweight offers protection to the rear of the machine and solid sheet-metal service-covers are fitted throughout.

Adding further to safety, work lights are located around the machines.

Quick and easy access is an important feature of the H16D and H17D. Refuelling is carried out without the need to open covers, and a large fully-opening engine cover provides quick and easy access for daily checks. A two-piece dozer hose is intended to simplify replacement, while "plug-in" connections on the dipper arm facilitates connection to PTO lines for hydraulically-powered attachments.

Hanix now offers a five-year warranty as standard on D-Series mini-diggers - a range that extends from the 990kg H09D to the 5.5t H55DR.

Q: Is there anything new in the 2-3t market segment?

A: After the introduction of the new E-generation of excavators, Bobcat has launched the E26 2.6t zero tail-swing mini-excavator. It offers the advantages of operator comfort, smooth work-group operation and the superior hydraulic performance of the other machines in the E-series, but additionally is noted for its stability, optimised operating weight for towing, low noise and reduced vibration. It also has features and technologies that are not yet available in many mini-excavators on the market.

Contributing to reliability are the four-plate box design for the work-group, high-resistant DCPD (Dicyclopentadiene) covers and quick-lock hydraulic connections.

The four-plate box design reduces weight in the workgroup which, together with weight being added at the back of the excavator, has made it possible to move the centre of gravity towards the rear of the machine and increase stability.

This stability means that the E26 does not require any additional counterweight when configured with the optional long dipperstick, which boosts the working range - while still limiting the weight of the cabbed long-arm version of the E26 to 2,700kg, to give it a maximum towable weight, including a trailer, of 3.5t.

An important achievement in the cabbed version is the successful integration of the same cab as used on Bobcat excavators in the 3-5t segment. It comes with heating and radio/MP3 readiness. The doors open within the width of the upper structure to reduce the damage risk.

The boom swing is controlled by a thumb wheel on the left joystick, rather than the pedal found on many competitor machines of this size. The thumb wheel is intended to improve controllability of the boom swing function and provides extra floor space for the operator.

Another new feature is the auto-shift travel motor, which changes automatically from low to high speeds and vice-versa, giving improved travel performance.

The E26 is equipped with a 15.5kW Kubota diesel engine and has improved air intake, cooling and exhaust systems to help reduce noise for both operator and bystanders.

The sealed floor plates and isolation on the inside of the engine panel behind the seat are designed to minimise undesired heat in the cab.

Maximum digging depth and dump height, with the standard arm, are 258cm and 306cm respectively.

Q: Are there any new attachments for use with mini-excavators?

A: Earlier this year Bobcat introduced two new ranges of hydraulic grabs for its E55W, E60 and E80 for applications in demolition, general material handlings, utilities and landscaping.

One range, with 50cm and 60cm grabs, is designed for general sorting jobs. The other range comprises 40cm and 50cm multi-purpose pick-and-place grabs suited to the precise placing of stones, as well as handling filling materials.

For use on Bobcat E32, E35, E45, E50, E55W and E60 mini-excavators, the RG20 rotary grinder will handle concrete, asphalt or rock. It can also be used to demolish walls, dig trenches in hard ground and prepare asphalt or concrete surfaces ready for repair.

Q: What can we do to make our mini-excavator secure?

A: Mini-excavators are highly desirable to the machinery thief, partly because there is a big demand for them, but also because they are easy to load onto a trailer.

Most manufacturers offer some form of enhanced security and this year JCB announced it is fitting an immobiliser and JCB LiveLink system to all its backhoe loaders, telescopic handlers and tracked and wheeled excavators.

"It's our intention to make life as difficult as possible for thieves by introducing theft protection as standard on our products and, at the same time, saving our customers the cost and inconvenience caused by plant theft," explains JCB UK and Ireland sales director Yvette Henshall-Bell.

JCB LiveLink provides a telematic link to JCB's machines that gives customers real-time location information with curfew and geofence alerts. In addition, it can monitor the health of the machine as well as machine hours and performance.

In 2009, JCB achieved a three-star Thatcham security rating in the agriculture and construction machinery sector. Two years earlier the company began fitting the industry registration system CESAR.

UK machines equipped with CESAR, immobilisers and LiveLink can benefit from insurance premium reductions.

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