Mini excavators

These machines offer power in a compact unit that can access awkward areas.

What are the advantages of a mini excavator over larger, more powerful machines?

The main benefit of the mini excavator is its size. These models can squeeze through narrow gaps or gateways to work on sites that would previously have needed hand digging or where features would have required dismantling in order to gain access.

Mini excavators are also lighter so they are easier to transport. Some are suitable for moving on an appropriate trailer for towing behind a pick-up or 4x4. And, because they exert low ground pressure, they are useful for working on areas where there are tree roots or turf.


What are the main considerations when looking to buy or hire a mini excavator?

Selecting the right machine is important because, unlike most other classes of machine, what appears to be the slightest increase or decrease in physical size can greatly affect a mini excavator’s sphere of application. There are three key considerations — transport, productivity and the constraints of the site.

It is essential to work out how the machine will be transported to the site. Don’t forget to add the weight and size of any additional buckets or other attachments into your equations.

Productivity relates to digging depth and breakout force. You will find that these, along with dump height, can vary widely between models. Slew speed is also an important feature and, when there is a lot of movement to undertake between working positions on the same site, so is speed of travel. It is worth noting that there are machines with dual speed to allow the unit to creep into position slowly but move swiftly between working positions.

The size limitations of a site will also determine the ideal machine for the job.

What are the advantages of a ZTS mini excavator?

ZTS stands for zero tail-swing. On these units the rear of the machine does not extend beyond the width of the undercarriage when slewing. This means ZTS models can be positioned next to walls for digging.

The upper housing and digging arm of a ZTS mini excavator can rotate through 180° to dump the bucket without the driver having to look back and worry about hitting anything with the back end of the housing.

When is it worth investing in a machine with an expanding undercarriage?

Expandable undercarriages allow the machine to “breathe in” to negotiate narrow entrances and then “breathe out” to provide the stability needed to dig and lift earth. These models are useful if you need to straddle narrow trenches for pipe or cable laying.


Can I use a mini excavator for other tasks?

It is worthwhile checking out the attachments available. As well as being capable of digging and earthmoving, the hydraulics of many mini excavators can be harnessed to tackle other jobs. There are machines that will accept pneumatic hammers for breaking up hard surfaces. JCB compact excavators can also be fitted with an earth auger to drill out holes for fence posts or the Kerbmaster to take the strain of handling and placing kerb stones. Bobcat also offers hammers, augers and grabs, along with a compactor.

Whether you are looking for increased versatility from a mini excavator or simply want digging and grading buckets, be sure to look at the options in terms of fitting the attachments. Many companies offer systems to help ease and speed up the process of taking off one bucket and replacing it with another.

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