Having the right equipment is key to efficiency when carrying out ground works, Sally Drury explains.

Latest model: compact zero-tail swing mini U27-4 features the largest cab in its class
Latest model: compact zero-tail swing mini U27-4 features the largest cab in its class

Recessions are tough but we can learn many things from them — things that can benefit business still further when growth finally returns. One important lesson is that of efficiency.

Ground works can be laborious, time-consuming and costly unless the right equipment is used for the job. When it comes to shifting earth, digging trenches and mounding spoil, it needs to be done accurately but speedily and within budget. That could mean using a micro, mini or compact excavator.

According to Kubota Construction, one particular model that is in high demand in the horticulture and landscaping sectors is the KX016-4. With the ability to work in a wide range of applications, it finds work on large construction sites and also in tight spaces.

The unit is said to set new standards in the 1.5- to two-tonne category through its performance and digging force. Key features include a spacious cabin, a multifunctional digital panel to improve operations and a variable track gauge — from 990mm to 1,240mm — to optimise stability and make passing through narrow doorways and tight work possible.

Digging depth and reach

Another machine that is proving popular is the Kubota KX61-3. Equipped with the longest arm, it delivers the largest digging depth and reach of all models in its weight category. It also generates the largest power in its class for both arm and bucket digging.

There has also been a lot of talk about this year’s introduction, the U27-4. A compact and tough zero-tail swing mini, it features the largest and most luxurious cab in its class. A wider and lower entrance makes the cabin simple to enter and exit. Specifically introduced to raise the bar in the two- to three-tonne weight category, this powerful and highly efficient excavator ensures operators have unrivalled visibility for greater productivity and increased safety.

"Feedback we received from extensive research across the UK and worldwide, in the 2.5-tonne class, highlighted that users wanted more space in the cabin and increased comfort levels, while not compromising on performance," says Kubota Construction business development manager Neil Winfield. "The U27-4 has been manufactured to exceed these requirements."

The model features a spacious cabin and deluxe interior, including a relaxing suspension seat that reclines to accommodate the operator’s posture and offers weight compensation. "This helps to reduce strain, minimise fatigue and increase operator productivity over extended periods of use," adds Winfield. "In addition, our intelligent digital panel, with diagnosis function, is located towards the front side of the operator for better visibility and accessibility."

The U27-4 is aimed at users needing to tackle demanding tasks in tight spaces. It delivers a powerful and well-balanced digging force along with a wider working range that rivals higher-end excavators. "This allows operators to dig faster, deeper — down to 2.82m — and more efficiently, whatever the conditions, while providing stability without the need for additional weights that are often required by other zero-tail swing excavators," Winfield explains.

Suitable for use in congested urban areas as well as in gardens where space is at a premium, the excavator’s tail provides minimal protrusion outside the track width, enabling the machine to turn throughout its 360° radius safely and with precision control.

The excavator is powered by Kubota’s own 15.6kW D1105-E48H-2 E-TVCS water-cooled diesel engine. Complementing this, when the simultaneous operation of the boom, arm, bucket and swivel is required, two variable pumps distribute oil to each actuator according to the lever stroke and allowing continuous high-performance digging and dozing. As with other Kubota excavators, this model features anti-theft technology to increase fleet security.

Next-generation machines

This year saw Bobcat launch its new E17, E19 and E20 next generation of one- to two-tonne compact excavator models. Providing an unmatched combination of class-leading breakout forces, working range, smoothness of workgroup functions, hydraulic output and fast cycles, the machines are centred round a roomy and comfortable operator environment.

The cab features large windows and narrow pillars to maximise all-round visibility. Access is via a large door opening and made easier still by the control console rising out of the way until the operator sits in the seat and the foot pedals that fold out of the way when not in use. Various seat options are available.

The excavators have a new control panel that allows all parameters to be checked quickly and easily in a single viewing, including standard readouts such as fuel gauge and peak reading meter but also auto-engine shutdown, auto glow plugs countdown, auto cab lights switch-off and malfunction alarm.

Other features include easy-to-operate gas spring-assisted light but rigid-frame front window,
keyless ignition, battery kill switch to reduce the risk of theft and an automatic slew brake for safe parking and transportation.

The stability of each model is achieved by fully expanding the retractable undercarriage and using the optional long dozer blade. Expansion and retraction is via a switch on the control panel.

The latest introduction from Takeuchi is the 1.6-tonne mini-excavator TB216. Replacing the TB016, a favourite with ground workers and tool hirers, the new model features a top-mounted boom cylinder and internally routed hoses to help avoid damage on site.

Designed for maximum dig depth (2.39m) and dump height (2.7m), the TB216 still has an undercarriage that allows access through a 1m opening but that extends to 1.3m for stability. Maximum reach at ground level is 4.04m.

To boost performance and productivity, the excavator features simultaneous operation of cab swing and digging function, plus two-speed travel up to 4.2kmph. A visual display unit shows warning indictors, rpm, hour meter, fuel level, battery charge, temperature, oil pressure and maintenance alerts.

Below 1.6 tonnes, Takeuchi has added a reduced tail swing model to its portfolio. The TB215R is designed for really compact and awkward situations. It features a purpose-built street works design with a short tail swing to fit limited sites.

The operating weight of the mini TB215R is 1.58 tonnes. It has a minimum width of 0.98m but with extended tracks gives a width of 1.3m for stability. Maximum dig depth is 2.19m, maximum dump height 2.4m and ground reach 3.76m. Rated power is 11.5kW at 2,400rpm.

Landscaping with the E10: ‘What sets it apart is its versatility and productivity’

For more than 25 years, Spanish company Transports i Excavacions Jocar has been in the business of earth-moving, transport, special excavation projects and selling aggregates. Based in Sant Andreu de Llavaneres, the business has a young, enterprising team that is committed to the environment.

With services ranging from landscaping to refurbishment and repairing damaged streets, parks and piping with planer equipment, the firm recently purchased a Bobcat E10 micro-excavator (right) — one of the smallest in the range, with zero-tail swing design and an operational weight of 1,176kg with a standard bucket. A Bobcat E35 compact excavator weighing 3.5 tonnes was also acquired.

"In the case of the E10 micro-excavator, we chose the machine because it sets us apart from our competitors," explains Transport i Excavacions Jocar manger Joan Carles Mora. "The recession has forced us to adapt and offer solutions for jobs that used to be performed manually. Difference is the road to success. Being competitive is not just about being best, but also being different. That is what we’ve achieved by offering an excavator that is not common in our market.

"With the E10 micro, we mainly perform landscaping and restoration jobs in really small spaces. What sets it apart is its versatility and high productivity for its small size — in short, its productivity. I am amazed by its high working capacity in difficult-to-access areas due to its small size. It has allowed me to perform jobs that would not have been possible with other excavators. I can truly say that this is the most profitable machine I have ever had."

In one project the E10 with expandable undercarriage was fitted with a 90kg hammer and broke up a pavement after passing through a 70cm opening. The E35 is also used in landscaping work and has been used to transplant trees.

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