Published: 22/10, 2018

Everyone has a personal checklist when shopping for a mini- or compact excavator. There are the usual items like power, versatility, comfort, ruggedness, and ease of maintenance. But there are also intangibles such as past experience with a particular manufacturer, recommendations from colleagues, and perhaps even the color.

No matter how specific your selection criteria may be, you’re not alone among the shoppers. Industry research estimates that 825 million excavators (encompassing all sizes) were sold during 2017, and projections call for that figure to top one million by 2020. 

But despite the high demand, excavators remain very much a buyer’s market. Manufacturers long ago realized that building machines to meet the least-common denominators no longer passes muster among buyers who don’t just want maximum value for their investment. They insist on it; otherwise…well, there are other machine makers out there, after all. And if skilled operators continue to be in short supply, these machines will have to do more than their predecessors.

So keep that personal checklist as you review our annual look at what’s new in the increasingly popular mini- and compact excavator category. You may well find models that fulfill every one of those “must-have” selection items, and more than a few “nice to have” and “we could really use this” features as well.

Volvo unveils 1.8t ECR18E ultra-short swing radius compact excavator
Receiving its worldwide premiere at Intermat, Volvo’s 1.8t ECR18E can squeeze into the tightest of spaces. Thanks to its ultra-short tail design – the shortest radius in the Volvo range – it can work close to obstacles without colliding with them. Featuring a variable undercarriage, the ECR18E can retract to less than 3.3 ft (1m) wide to enter confined areas, or expand to some more surefooted 4.2 ft (1.35m). 

Particularly suited to the needs of rental businesses, the ECR18E is designed for low cost of ownership. Robust by design thanks to a high-profile counterweight, the machine is made for easy maintenance, with 50 hours greasing intervals and a hinged fuel tank providing best-in-class access to the engine compartment. The engine can also be fitted with auto-idle and auto engine shutdown features, which both reduce noise disturbance, service costs and fuel consumption while ensuring a higher resale value.

It may be able to squeeze into tight spaces, but operators will find that the cab environment of the ECR18E is both roomy and uncluttered. With fingertip operation, simple layout controls, and large travel pedals, the machine is both easy and safe to operate, the latter helped by a standard orange seatbelt and optional sensors that lock the controls, preventing movement if the operator is not sitting firmly on the seat. 

Transportation is also safe and secure, helped by four easily accessed tie-down points on the upper frame. Thanks to its light weight, it can be safely transported with up to three buckets and a hydraulic breaker on a compact trailer.

Technical specifications
    ECR18 E
Engine gross power (hp/kW)    16/12
Max. operating weight (lb/kg)    4,167/1,890
Max. digging reach (in/mm)    162/4,120
Max. digging depth (in/mm)    96/2,440
Undercarriage width, var. (in/mm)    39-53/995-1,352    

CASE mini-excavators raise the bar on productivity, comfort, and safety
CASE Construction Equipment offers the new C Series mini-excavator line with six models ranging from 1.7t to 6.0t. The new C Series raises the bar compared to the previous range, with better performance, a rich array of features, and even greater comfort and safety – all contributing to outstanding productivity.

The C Series mini-excavators are loaded with features that will make the operator’s work easier, more comfortable and more productive. They include the new easy-to-read digital cluster that provides useful information and warning lights; the standard Engine Start Limitation (ESL) anti-theft system; the hydraulic Quick Coupler for fast attachment changes; the electric refuel pump; and many more.

features include ROPS, TOPS, and FOPS compliance, emergency stop switch, travel alarm, and object handling kit. The safety valves prevent loads from slipping in case of hose failure. The pilot system with accumulator enables the operator to put the attachment down safely even when the engine is off. The double-flange rollers minimize the risk of detracking and improve stability. The outstanding all-around visibility and rear-view camera further enhance safety on the jobsite.

The 1.7t CX17C delivers productivity, comfort, and safety without equal in its category, while the 1.8t CX18C stands out for powerful performance, working range and all the features it offers in this highly competitive segment. Both models’ compact dimensions enable them to work efficiently with the greatest agility in the tightest spots. They feature hydraulically retractable tracks with inner routing of hydraulic hoses. When the tracks are retracted, the machines are less than 3 ft (1m) wide. The CX17C features a Zero Tail Swing design, which ensures there is no risk of hitting an obstacle with the back of the machine when swinging, it can work effectively and safely in the most confined spaces.

The 2.6t CX26C and 3.7t CX37C models stand out for excellent working range, best-in-class reach, and dig depth and ample boom swing angles. They are available with a choice of long and short arms, which deliver a maximum dig depth of 104 in and 95 in (2,645mm and 2,420mm) respectively for the CX26C, and 135 in and 123 in (3,440mm and 3,135mm) respectively for the CX37C. In addition to the choice of arm length, they are available with additional counterweights and rubber tracks. Steel tracks are also available on the CX37C.

The top-range 5.7t CX57C and 6.0t CX60C stand out for their best-in-class engine power and lifting capacity and comfort features. These include factory readiness to accommodate the latest technologies that make the operator’s job easier. It all adds up to ultimate comfort for the operator, who can concentrate on getting the job done efficiently and productively with minimum fatigue. The spacious cab with ample legroom, together with the ergonomic seating and control layout, the fully adjustable, heated seat, multiple storage compartments and sunshades, make for an extremely comfortable operator station. 

The extraordinarily quiet operation and the low vibrations resulting from the cab being mounted on silent blocks, add to the operator’s comfort and fatigue-free work day. The standard auto-idle further reduces the noise when the machine is not working.

Wacker Neuson debuts first battery-powered mini-excavator at Intermat
Intermat visitors got the first look at Wacker Neuson’s EZ17e battery-powered mini-excavator, which delivers the same power and performance as gasoline-powered models. Available in 2019, the EZ17e is a new addition to the Group’s long-established zero emissions product line.

The EZ17e is powered by state-of-the-art lithium-ion technology, which has been used by Wacker Neuson for years and is constantly being refined. It is characterized by a particularly long service life. The all-electric excavator thus remains operational for a full working day.

An ordinary household power outlet (110-230V) is sufficient to charge the battery overnight. A quick charge by high voltage power supply in four hours is also possible. Thanks to the intelligent charging management, the EZ17e can be used battery-operated or connected to the power supply system and even be charged while being operated. This makes the EZ17e particularly suitable for environments where exhaust fumes and noise are to be avoided. This includes inner city construction sites as well as projects in tunnels or inside of buildings.

The mini-excavator is also a zero-tail excavator, designed without rear overhang. Thus, the operator does not need to worry that he will damage the machine or the surroundings while working near the walls or in confined spaces. The rear of the electric excavator never reaches beyond the undercarriage. This makes the EZ17e ideal for use in tunneling, demolition and renovation work in small spaces, or for interior restorations.

All hydraulic functions have the same performance level as the conventional model. The battery is integrated in the existing engine compartment. The weight is almost identical to the diesel version, so the EZ17e can also be easily transported on a trailer. For the maintenance no additional training of the service personnel is necessary. 

Mecalac converts 12MTX into e12 electric mini-excavator
Also new on the zero-emissions equipment is Mecalac’s e12, an electric version of the company’s 12MTX. The engine compartment houses LiFePO4 (lithium iron phosphate) battery technology for a record capacity of 146 kW hours, giving the e12 up to 8 hours of operating time. The system also supports three times as many charge cycles as conventional batteries, with better safety. There’s no risk of fires or battery fluid leaks. The e12 has a charging station that can be used to recharge it on site in 6 to 7 hours. 

With a structure designed for the city from the outset and two independently operating electric motors, one powering the excavation mechanism and one for movement, the Mecalac e12 is destined to become a fixture in plant fleets for urban settings. Apart from its performance and range, its 100% electric transmission offers unrivalled tractive force as soon as the engine is started, with brake energy regeneration. 

Unlike a standard wheeled excavator, the e12 works all day, racking up more time in action than it does
standing around every day. Its articulated chassis means it can move easily around any site, and this
agility also plays a role in its overall performance. The new Mecalac e12’s perfect blend of architecture and technology is paving the way for safer, cleaner and more efficient urban building sites.

New compact excavators from Kubota
Kubota’s new U27-4 features adjustable auxiliary flow hydraulics, an auxiliary diverter valve, two-speed automatic downshift travel, as well as best-in-class reach and dig depth. The powerful and well-balanced arm and bucket design allows the operator to dig faster, deeper, and more efficiently even in the toughest conditions. 

Engineered to prioritize productivity, the U27-4 boasts a working range (including reach and digging depth) that are best-in-class and a bucket digging force of 7,014 lb (3,181kg). Operators will enjoy a large, spacious cab with wider entrance, greater leg room, more flow space and a luxurious interior as well as a new user-friendly front meter panel. An enclosed cab option with heat is also available for the new U27-4.

The new KX033-4 is part of Kubota’s popular KX Series and sits in the three-ton class yet boasts the lifting capacity of a larger machine. Ideal for those hard to reach areas, the KX033-4’s optional extendable dipper arm can be quickly and easily extended up to 31 in (787.4mm), boosting productivity as well as efficiency. Its impressive capabilities include a digging depth of 12.2 ft (3.7m) and a digging reach of 18.25 ft (5.6m).  

The KX033-4 is powered by Kubota’s direct injection diesel engine with auto shift and idle features. Operators will enjoy the easy-open front glass windows, deluxe suspension seat, cup holder, wrist rest and air conditioning. A large, easy-to-read digital panel is user friendly with simple settings and push button operations.

Bobcat expands R-Series line with E85
Bobcat Company has expanded its R-Series excavator lineup with the new E85, the largest machine in the company’s compact excavator family. The 8.5t E85 is part of the fastest-growing-size class of compact excavators in North America.

The E85 has been redesigned with performance, uptime protection and operator comfort in mind, and features the same bold, distinct design and other cab upgrades as the E32 and E35 R-Series compact excavators that were introduced in 2017.  

Th 66-hp (49W) E85 shares the same Bobcat® turbo-charged diesel engine technology that does not require a diesel particulate filter (DPF) or selective catalytic reduction (SCR), as well as similar cab upgrades found on the current R-Series excavators. A new standard lift eye is included, to help operators properly lift and place objects.

The 13 in (330mm) of tail overhang allows the E85 to work in compact environments, including construction, landscaping, utilities, rental and agriculture. The excavator’s boom swing frame stays within the width of the machine’s tracks as it swings, making it easier to perform in confined jobsite conditions and next to buildings or other obstructions where larger equipment, such as a tractor loader backhoe, can’t fit.
Bobcat E85 excavator cabs are rated as a Level 1 Falling Object Protective Structure (FOPS). The improved top window and narrower side pillars contribute to visibility that’s never been better. Operators can get a better view of the excavator’s work group and surrounding areas with class-leading visibility from the cab. Left and right mirrors enhance the operator’s visibility from inside the cab. A new sun visor over the top window shields operators’ eyes from the sun on bright days.

The new machine features a standard, easy-to-reach control pattern selector. This feature is conveniently located within the operator’s reach, allowing the operator to quickly switch from ISO controls to standard controls. With the repositioned second auxiliary hydraulic selector switch, operators can toggle between the optional second auxiliary and the boom offset without removing their hands from the left joystick. The design maintains wide-open access to the engine area for daily maintenance checks. Operators have panoramic access to the engine and routine maintenance components for superior service and to help minimize machine downtime.

A new tubular-frame reinforced cab door comes standard, making the E85 even stronger and able to withstand rough jobsite conditions. The tubular frame holds a tighter seal, helping keep out dirt and dust for an enhanced operating experience.

Bobcat excavator operators can dig faster using less effort and have greater precision with the depth check system – an optional accessory available for select Bobcat excavators. The E85 can be equipped with a depth check system, allowing operators to accurately measure depth and grade without exiting the excavator. The depth check system has an accuracy of ± 0.5 in (12.7mm), minimizing excavator operators from stopping the machine to measure depth and potentially entering and exiting a trench with a measuring device. It also helps to minimize over-digging and under-digging, and the costs and time associated with backfilling, compacting fill material and doing manual labor to finalize depth or grade. 

Another benefit of the system: No additional display screens are required, allowing for more operator space in the excavator’s cab because the Bobcat depth check system utilizes the machine’s deluxe panel to provide operator guidance and to facilitate operator inputs to the guidance system.

A lower engine compartment and relocated hydraulic valves makes it easy to access and service the machine. In addition, greasing intervals have been extended to 50 hours for the swing and slew and to 250 hours on upper work group pivot points for improved uptime. Similar to other R-Series machines, the E85 uses Bobcat genuine oils and filters to simplify stocking parts for fleet owners. 

Technical specifications
Engine power (hp/kW)    66/49
Operating weight (kg/lb)    18,977/8,608
Bucket digging force (lbf/kg)    16,269/7,379
Rated lift capacity (lb/kg)    9,754/4,424
Max. reach at ground level (ft/m)    23.5/7.1
Max. dig depth (ft/m)    15.5/4.7
Max dump height (ft/m)    16.5/5.0
Width (in/mm)    87/2,210
Aux. hydraulic flow (gpm/lpm)    25.1/95

Yanmar commemorates excavator anniversary with new models
Intermat in Paris was the setting for Yanmar’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of its first mini-excavator. So it was appropriate that the manufacturer presented its newest models of midi- and mini-excavators, and other trend-setting technologies.
The SV60 is the latest Yanmar short tail midi-excavator. The new 5.7t machine has been designed to respond to the most demanding requirements regarding comfort and stability. Putting the operator at the center of its design initiatives, Yanmar has developed the Universal Design concept providing comfort for enhanced productivity. The cabin offers high capacity which is comparable to 8t and 10t excavators. Operating controls and switches are ergonomically arranged for easy reach. An air suspended seat comes as standard equipment. It is fully adjustable and has a headrest, thus reducing body tension and fatigue. The standard SV60 is also equipped with a rear-view camera with an additional screen offering great visibility and enhanced safety on the jobsite. 

Furthermore, the SV60 has a last generation Yanmar engine with an output of 44.8 hp (33.4kW) at 2,200 rpm. This is the result of Yanmar’s continuous efforts to further develop technological enhancements in terms of fuel consumption and emissions. The ViPPS hydraulic system cumulates the flow of separate pumps in order to obtain the optimal combination in terms of speed, power, smoothness and balance. All operations can be performed smoothly and concurrently, even while traveling. The optimal mass distribution and the design of the midi-excavator result in the improved loading chart and its static stability. The SV60 has a high digging force to be more productive and to work in hard conditions. 
Yanmar also presented four renewed models of zero-tail swing mini-excavators between 2t and 4t –the ViO26-6, ViO27-6, ViO33-6, and ViO38-6. The ViO-6 range is equipped with the latest generation of Yanmar TNV engines. Emissions, sound level, and fuel consumption have been sustainably reduced. Neither the counterweight nor the front of the upper frame exceeds the track width. With their compact dimensions, very small turning radius and reduced transport weight, the four models operate easily, even in confined spaces.

All Yanmar products can be used with the company’s new SmartAssist Remote data management system, which monitors performance, location, operation, and maintenance requirements of the machine, and provides detailed information on the machine’s condition and application. With this tool, the technical data can be accessed on computers, tablets and smartphones, regardless the location. It facilitates the daily organization and improves the efficiency of work processes. In addition, the system alerts in case of unusual actions, such as leaving a certain area or any activity outside the hours scheduled. Stolen machines can be quickly tracked with SmartAssist Remote.

New DX17Z mini-excavator launched by Doosan
The new DX17Z mini-excavator from Doosan is ideal for rental and urban construction sites with limited space. It is designed for all types of applications that require frequent mobility, compact size, powerful performance, and a comfortable working environment for continuous work on confined space sites. The 1.7t DX17Z is a Zero House Swing (ZHS) mini-excavator offering easy transportability and more functionality than a Zero Tail Swing (ZTS) mini-excavator, in that ZHS fully protects the front upper structure corners within the swing circle. As a result, ZHS functionality provides 320° of free rotation while working close to any object.
The stability of the Doosan DX17Z is best-in-class compared to all other ZTS machines on the market. 
When fully retracted, the undercarriage allows the excavator to go through narrow spaces. When fully expanded, it provides optimum stability for the excavator, especially when working over the side. Expansion and retraction are simple and easy via an electric switch on the control panel.

The e optional long dozer blade also significantly improves front stability, enabling the operator to make full use of the breakout forces the DX17Z can deliver. The extra stability is essential for making maximum use of the exceptional digging forces and lifting capacities available in the DX17Z. Optimum stability is achieved by fully expanding the retractable undercarriage and using the long dozer blade. With the firm foundation of optimized stability and lifting capacity, the DX17Z offers the highest versatility in operating a wide range of attachments.

In addition, the DX17Z can be supplied with an optional certified 'object handling device', which consists of a boom load holding valve, arm load holding valve, hooking device, and overload warning device. 
The superior dumping height of the DX17Z makes loading trucks an easy process, while the reach at ground level means the operator does not have to reposition the excavator as often as other machines when digging.

Incorporating the architecture of a 2t class hydraulic system, with a combination of variable piston pumps and a gear pump, the DX17Z’s unique hydraulic system makes the best possible use of the engine’s power. Fast cycle times, combined with smooth control of class-leading breakout forces, provide maximum productivity. Boom and arm cylinder cushioning, also unique in this machine class, enhance the overall smoothness of the workgroup.  

The DX17Z has a standard operating weight of 3,856 lb (1,749kg) and a maximum digging depth of 88.5 in (2,249mm). With a transport weight of less than 1.65t, the DX17Z is towable on trailers for 4,850 lb (2,200 kg) of total weight. The use of highly durable materials ensures the DX17Z is highly robust and easy to repair. The heavy steel gauge covers and tailgate provide class-leading durability and peace of mind while working.  

Features include two-piece blade cylinder hoses to simplify replacement in case of damage; wrenchless hydraulic hose technology to help prevent leakage; proven boom and dipper-stick design; protected top-mounted boom cylinder; oversized cylinders for long lifetime performance; a new paint and surface treatment process for durability and extra residual value and a reinforced expandable undercarriage to maximize rigidity.

Thanks to the large steel tailgate and openable side cover, all components for daily maintenance are easy to access, keeping downtime to a minimum. Daily maintenance and service points are conveniently located for easy and immediate access. The side-by-side coolers are easy to clean. Simple diagnostics are used on the DX17Z, with error codes displayed on the control panel and service tool connection. The floor panels can also be removed rapidly for service purposes.

New Trimble Ready option for Doosan excavators
To meet the increasing demand for grade control systems, Doosan Construction Equipment is collaborating with Trimble to introduce a Trimble Ready® factory option for Doosan excavator customers. The Trimble Ready option will be available direct from the factory through Doosan Smart Solutions for use with Trimble® GCS900 2D and 3D Grade Control Systems. 

The Trimble GCS900 Grade Control System gives operators access to design surfaces, grades, and alignments on a display inside the excavator cab. The system uses GNSS, GPS, laser, sonic, or total station technology to accurately position the blade or bucket in real time, significantly reducing material overages and improving the contractor's productivity and efficiency.

With the GCS900 system, the site plan and grade information can be displayed in the cab, so operators can finish jobs faster with minimal supervision, obtaining higher precision finishing with a reduced number of passes. In addition, there is no need to wait for subcontractors to provide survey and grade checking information, ensuring jobs are completed correctly the first time. This can reduce rework and the need for stakes, hubs or stringlines, which can also reduce costs and the risk of errors.

Use of a common grade control platform across an entire excavator fleet allows customers to port the system between machines and machine types. Flexible and scalable components can be used on a wide variety of machines for an even faster return on investment. The improved productivity that results leads to a reduction in personnel and machine costs and accurate grading also helps customers to carefully control material usage and fuel costs.
The collaboration between Doosan and Trimble means that customers in Europe will be able to order Trimble Ready excavators to enable a faster and simplified installation of Trimble GCS900 2D or 3D Grade Control System components with no welding, re-painting, drilling or disassembly required. Trimble Control Boxes are not included and must be purchased directly from Trimble’s SITECH® dealer channel.

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