Mini excavators

When digging is required in a tight space the mini excavator comes into its own for landscape work, says Sally Drury.

Hyundai R17Z: variable undercarriage for easier access through narrow entrances - image: Hyundai
Hyundai R17Z: variable undercarriage for easier access through narrow entrances - image: Hyundai

Compact dimensions mean mini excavators can squeeze through narrow openings and their weight assures low ground pressure on site as well as ease of transport off site. Yet they are also packed with power. This year, with a number of important introductions, landscapers have even more choice of kit.

In spring Kubota introduced the U27-4 compact zero-tail-swing mini excavator that also features a large and luxurious cab. Raising the bar in the 2-3t weight category, this machine boasts unrivalled visibility for greater productivity and increased safety. It also features a wide, low entrance to make the cab easy to enter and exit.

Designed to tackle demanding tasks in tight spaces, it delivers a powerful and well-balanced digging force along with a wider working range said to rival high-end excavators. This allows operators to dig faster, deeper (down to 2.82m) and more efficiently, in all sorts of conditions, while providing stability without the need for the additional weights sometimes required by
zero-tail-swing machines.

Positive user feedback

The U27-4 was introduced following research and development with operators from across the UK and worldwide. Feedback from users has been positive. "The feedback we received in the 2.5t class highlighted that users wanted more space in the cabin and increased levels of comfort, while not compromising on performance levels," says Kubota Construction business development manager Neil Winfield.

"The Kubota U27-4 machine is manufactured to exceed these requirements. It features a newly designed spacious cabin and a deluxe interior, including a relaxing suspension seat that reclines to accommodate an operator’s posture and offers weight compensation. This helps reduce strain, minimise fatigue and increase operator productivity — particularly over extended periods of use."

He continues: "Kubota’s intelligent digital panel with diagnosis function is located towards the front side of the operator for better visibility and accessibility."

Ideal for use in congested urban areas and inside buildings where space is at a premium, the U27-4’s tail provides minimal protrusion outside the track width, enabling the machine to turn throughout its 360° radius safely and with precision control. Power is provided by a Kubota engine that falls well within the current emissions levels required by European legislation.

To complement this, when the simultaneous operation of the boom, arm, bucket and swivel are required, two variable pumps distribute an accurate amount of oil to each actuator according to the lever stroke. This process is intended to enable continuous high performance, for both digging and dozing. As standard with Kubota excavators, the U27-4 is fitted with anti-theft technology to increase fleet security, and the engine and its components are easy to access for maintenance and service.

Increased productivity

In June Doosan Construction Equipment launched the DX19 1.9t mini excavator to offer increased productivity and greater operator comfort in a large, easily accessed cab as well as maximum durability and serviceability. Equipped with cab, rubber tracks, long blade and bucket, the machine has an operating weight of 1,894kg. It is towable on trailers for up to 2,000kg, with transportability enhanced by new tie-down points.

With the long arm, the maximum digging depth is 2.56m and the maximum dump height is 2.69m to ensure easy loading of trucks. Maximum reach at ground level is 4.21m — a feature that should reduce the need to reposition when digging. An optional certified "object handling package" is available, consisting of a safety valve for the boom and arm, a hooking device and an overload warning device.

An optimised hydraulic system makes best use of the power available from the Kubota D722 diesel engine, providing an output of 9.9kW at 2,500rpm and resulting in fast cycle times and smooth control of breakout forces, including a digging force over the bucket of 20.8kN. The overall smoothness of the hydraulic system is further enhanced by boom and arm
cylinder cushioning.

The DX19 has a retractable undercarriage, enabling it to pass through narrow spaces but gain stability when fully expanded. Expansion and retraction are via a switch on the control panel. In addition, to help dustpanning on the front, the long dozer blade enhances stability at the front of the excavator, allowing the operator to make full use of the breakout forces that the machine can deliver.

Built around the operator and boasting optimal ergonomics, the cab on the DX19 features large windows with narrow pillars to maximise all-round visibility. Large doors plus the rising control console aid access to the seat and once inside the operator will find plenty of foot space on the easy-clean flat floor. Pedals fold back to increase room and there is a storage box and cup holder to keep the workstation tidy.

The control panel permits easy checking of the main parameters, including auto engine shut-down, auto glow plugs countdown, auto cab lights switch-off and RPM. Other features include gas spring-assisted light and rigid-frame front window, keyless ignition, battery kill switch for storage and to prevent theft plus an automatic slew brake for safe parking and transport.

Access to components is gained through the tailgate and side cover. Side-by-side coolers are positioned for easy cleaning and all daily maintenance and service points are positioned to reduce downtime. Maintenance and servicing is further simplified by diagnostics, including error codes displayed on the control panel.

Work in confined areas

The latest mini excavator from Hyundai, the R17Z-9A, slots into the manufacturer’s existing mini line-up between the R16-9 and the R25Z-9AK. It is compact and achieves true zero-tail-swing to allow work in confined areas such as close to buildings and in urban areas, its access through narrow entrances being made easier by the machine’s variable undercarriage.

The 1.7t machine is powered by the proven Kubota D902 engine, rated at 15.7hp (11.7kW) and boasting reduced-noise technology. The unit has two travel speeds — 2.2kmh at the lower end and 4.1kmh at the higher end. When fitted with a 96cm-long dipper arm, the excavator provides a maximum dig depth of 2.19m.

With two posts rather than four, the canopy-covered operator’s platform gives good all-round visibility. The canopy frame meets international standards TOPS, ROPS, FOPS and FOG. Other features assuring operator comfort include adjustable suspension seat, wrist rests, ergonomically designed joysticks and plenty of legroom. Operators can also customise their work environment and operating preferences to suit their individual needs. In addition, the boom cylinder is placed in the traditional position under the boom, rather than on top.

For digging and loading work, JCB has added to the versatility of its compact 1CX backhoe with the addition of a tracked version, the 1CX-T. The new machine, which is a compact loader and mini excavator in one, is for those requiring increased climbing ability, stability and pushing power in soft ground conditions. Furthermore, with high-flow auxiliary hydraulics, the machine is capable of driving a host of attachments on the front loader as well as the rear backhoe.

The 1CX-T is powered by a Tier 3-compliant engine producing 49hp (36.3kW) and a strong 140Nm of torque. Through JCB’s Power Management System controlling the transmission output, operators can increase pushing power while keeping fuel consumption to a minimum. PMS allows travel speeds to be set using lower engine RPM, cutting fuel consumption.

The system also allows control of ground speed at maximum RPM, providing maximum breakout force without spinning the tracks or stalling the engine.

Deeper-digging - Backhoe

While the 1CX-T boasts the power of a 2.5t mini excavator, the standard sideshift backhoe digs up to 36 per cent deeper with the Extradig option and JCB’s telescopic dipper arm design provides outstanding loadover height — 2.65m. Yet, because the backhoe is an integral part of the machine, the 1CX-T is compact.

With high ground clearance and a tight turning circle, the machine is suited to rough terrain and work in confined sites. Track retention is assured with a solid undercarriage and four triple-flanged rollers.

The 320mm tracks deliver lower ground pressure than a wheeled model, allowing work in wet,
loose conditions.

Access to the fully ROPS and FOPS cab is through JCB’s full-height side entry door, avoiding the need to climb over attachments. A fully certified canopy is offered in place of the cab and there is a choice between manual or EasyControl servo levers. As well as auxiliary hydraulics for the backhoe arm, the 1CX-T can be supplied with a handheld tool circuit to power items such as breakers, water pumps or disc cutters — ideal for landscaping works.

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