Mini excavators are one of the quickest growing equipment types, with the machine’s popularity seemingly ever-increasing. According to data from Off-Highway Research, global sales for the mini excavator were at their highest point ever last year, at over 300,000 units.
The major markets for mini excavators have traditionally been developed countries, such as Japan and those in Western Europe, but the last decade has seen their popularity rise in many emerging economies. Most notable of these is China, which is now by far the biggest mini excavator market in the world.
Considering that mini excavators essentially replace manual labour, this is perhaps a surprising turnaround in the most populous country in the world where there is certainly no shortage of workers. Although all is perhaps not as it seems in the Chinese market – see the box out ‘China and mini excavators’ for more details.
One of the reasons for the mini excavator’s popularity is that it is easier to power a smaller and more compact machine with electricity rather than the traditional di esel power. It is the case that, especially in city centres of developed economies, there are often strict regulations regarding noise and emissions pollution.
Operator well-being, confidence, and safety are supported through a simplified workstation and user-friendly experience. The seat-to-joystick position has been revised and improved, while still being suspended together
Designed to offer the highest levels of operator convenience, the cab features soundproofing, numerous storage areas, and 12V and USB ports. A fully opening front window and slide side window contribute to all-around visibility and operators have an automotive style jog wheel, five inch colour display and easy-to-navigate menus.
Operator comfort is indeed important, but another reason for the general popularity of the mini excavator segment is the ever-increasing range of attachments on offer. For instance, DIGDOG has a wide range of attachments which are easy to switch over, including buckets, breakers, thumbs, and the new Tilt Quick Coupler.
Talking about the mini excavator’s rise in popularity, Chris Sleight, managing director, Off-Highways Research, highlights attachments, saying, “At the lighter end, the range of attachments available mean it [a mini excavator] is often favoured over workers using hand-held air-powered tools. This is partly because this can be helpful in reducing workers’ exposure to noise and vibration, and also because it removes the worker from the immediate vicinity of the tool.”Sleight also adds that, “In Europe and even North America the mini excavator is replacing other types of equipment. At the top end of the scale, its smaller footprint and ability to slew through 360 degrees means it is often now favoured over backhoe loaders.”
The various types of bucket we offer are still the main ‘tool’ from among the 25 different families of attachments we offer for our mini excavators, but we see a trend developing with more advanced hydraulic attachments growing in popularity.