New Takeuchi Compact Excavator Models Take Productivity and Comfort to the Next Level
Over the past few decades, as urban job sites have become smaller and more restricted, the market for compact excavators has grown by leaps and bounds. Compact excavators can make quick work of numerous tasks that contractors used to perform by hand or with a less efficient machine.
When Akio Takeuchi launched his company back in 1963, it only produced parts and components for other equipment manufacturers. However, that changed in the early 1970s when Takeuchi recognized a need for smaller excavators that could work in tight, constricted spaces. About a year later, Takeuchi introduced the world’s first 360-degree, full-turn compact excavator. While the innovative machine was a revolutionary breakthrough, it took some time for contractors to adopt it as a must-have tool on their jobsites.
“People initially saw the compact excavator as a niche machine,” says Jeff Stewart, president of Takeuchi US. “The company worked for many years to enhance the mini excavator and make it useful for multiple applications. That’s when the rental industry started to embrace the mini excavator, and its market began to really expand.”
Over the past 40 years, compact excavators have evolved from simple digging machines to tool carriers that are useful for demolition, loading, land management, utility work and much more. Features like multiple hydraulic circuits now make it possible to outfit compact excavators with a wide range of attachments. That enhanced versatility can help business owners overcome tight budgets and an ongoing labor shortage.
“Compact excavators with multiple hydraulic circuits, including high-flow, can be extremely productive,” says Keith Kramlich, national product and training manager for Takeuchi US. “Our excavator models from 5.5 tons and up feature first, second, and third auxiliary circuits as standard equipment. That enable operators to run attachments like augers, mowers, mulchers and breakers. The second circuit can serve as a dedicated thumb circuit or provide an additional function like rotation for a tilt-rotator coupler. Finally, the third auxiliary circuit lets operators easily integrate a hydraulic pin-grabber coupler, allowing them to switch out attachments from the safety and comfort of their cabs.”
Compact excavator cabs have come a long, long way in terms of operator comfort. Operators who are comfortable in their cabs can remain at the controls longer, experience less fatigue, use the machine more safely and remain highly productive throughout their shifts. That’s very important today with the construction industry experiencing a severe labor shortage. To further improve operator comfort and productivity, Takeuchi is outfitting its compact excavators with roomier cabs featuring large, multifunction color monitors.
“With these monitors, operators can see see their machine’s health and get more done without having to step out of the cab,” Kramlich says. “In fact, depending on the machine model, they can now set up multiple attachment presets, adjust flow rates – and in some cases, pressure settings – all from the comfort of their seats.”
New machines for a new decade
Takeuchi continued to roll out new machines in 2020, thanks to steady demand for both mini and compact excavators – even during a global pandemic. After a significant investment in time and resources, three new compact excavators – the TB225, TB257FR, and TB370 – joined the Takeuchi family last year.
“We talked to end users and Takeuchi dealers and reviewed the state of the market as a whole before introducing these new machines,” Kramlich says. “We heard a lot of excellent ideas, and from there, we narrowed down a list of priority features, focusing mainly on what changes would bring our customers the biggest benefits.”
When designing these new machines, Takeuchi included the aforementioned multiple hydraulic circuits, advanced hydraulic systems (on the TB370 and TB290), more comfortable cabs and Takeuchi Fleet Management (TFM), a telematics system that makes it possible for customers to manage their machines remotely. When it comes to demolition, out of the three new machines, the TB257FR and the TB370 have the size and the power to get the job done quickly and efficiently.
Weighing in at just under 13,000 lb (5,900 kg), the new TB257FR is designed for demolition, general contractors, pool contractors, municipal use, landscaping and road/bridge work. The “FR” in the machine’s name stands for “front and rear” or “full rotation” capability. That means the TB257FR can almost rotate within the width of its track frame with the boom fully stowed for an exceptionally small footprint. It can also work within areas where there’s just one way in and out, like a fenced yard or an alley. A side-to-side (STS) offset boom coupled with a tight tail swing offers excellent visibility to the work equipment and enables it to rotate fully with very little overhang. The TB257FR features three auxiliary circuits and a boom-holding valve with an overload alarm.
The largest new Takeuchi machine, the TB370, can also handle whatever a contractor needs in a compact excavator. As the first model of Takeuchi’s new generation line-up, it’s been upgraded with state-of-the-art technology and a completely redesigned automotive-styled interior with intuitive user operation. It also includes three auxiliary circuits, as well as a closed center-load-sensing hydraulic system that’s ideal for running hydraulically driven attachments. The tilt-forward cabin has been totally redesigned with an 8-inch (20.3cm) color LCD multifunction touchscreen display, jog dial and one-touch controls and a larger floor area for enhanced operator comfort.
Certainly COVID-19 will have lasting economic and sociological impacts, and it will influence how manufacturers like Takeuchi approach new machine introductions in the future. It will be imperative for manufacturers to keep an open mind and examine their customers’ needs from a new perspective.
“In my opinion, we’re seeing what used to be years’ worth of machine advancements being developed far more quickly,” says Kramlich. “Manufacturers are trying to increase machine productivity to help contractors get more done since it’s been tougher than ever to find dependable labor since COVID. Owner-operators are looking for more flexible machines that they can easily monitor and product support that they can depend on.”
Takeuchi’s Stewart says he feels that customers want to be able to do more with smaller, more compact machines like those his company manufactures. That’s why Takeuchi is developing better tool carriers for the growing compact equipment market. He also believes that “greener” machines, like those that use battery power instead of fuel, will also be in high demand.
“Our company has always focused on providing a specific type of compact machine,” Stewart says. “That has allowed us to communicate with our customer base and incorporate the features they want most. Our plan is to continue providing the best possible quality and support, and we’ll continue talking with our customers to ensure we’re manufacturing machines that truly help them do their jobs better, faster and more easily.”