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Cover Story May 2023

Cover Story – May 2023

MINI EX – The POWER PERFORMERS

Mini excavator, through its inherent virtues, eliminates the role of tractor, mini truck, and pickups, and makes the task easy, fast, efficient, versatile, economical, and compact for construction & agriculture companies. All these prominent features have made mini excavators a preferred choice for construction sites with restricted space. And the landscape is only turning promising with leading companies coming up with superior and innovative features meant to facilitate customers with the ease of operations, productivity empowerment and efficiency enhancement. A Cover Story tracking the developmental landscape and what lies ahead… writes, PRERNA SHARMA.

Excavators are predominantly used in construction as well as agriculture sector for various applications. However, a large excavator is not always optimal for performing small scale task. Whereas, by using mini excavators, these tasks can be performed easily and at lower cost, which is anticipated to boost the demand for mini excavators. Further, a rise in demand for mini excavators, owing to rise in construction sector is projected to propel growth of the global mini excavator market. On the other hand, the rise in world population has significantly increased demand in the agriculture sector, thereby positively influencing mini excavators market growth. Furthermore, the availability of a wide range of mini excavators in various lifting capacities makes it suitable for use in various small-scale applications. Thus, mini excavators are extensively used for excavating small trenches, pits, handling lighter loads, maintaining land surface, and others.

According to Allied Market Research, the global mini excavators market size was valued at $6.6 billion in 2020, and is projected to reach $10.2 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 4.4% from 2021 to 2030. Mini excavators are construction equipment equipped with dipper, boom, or bucket installed on a movable platform based on application requirement. These excavators provide assistance in performing landscaping, excavating, demolishing, picking & placing, material handling, constructing activities, and others. In addition, mini excavator aids in completion of labor-intensive tasks or the works earlier performed using heavy construction equipment.

This equipment is compact, has robust performance and is available in relatively low power ratings as compared to heavy excavators. In addition, availability of advanced engines and superior power capabilities has led to the use of mini excavators, which can perform optimally in small and narrow spaces. Moreover, mini excavators are track mounted and wheel mounted, providing greater maneuverability. The development of advanced battery technologies has helped to ease the process of owning and operating mini excavators. In addition, integration of cameras and other spatial sensors has fueled the development of a new generation of mini excavators, which puts lesser burden on the operator.

Demand trends

Commonly observed types of mini excavator are wheeled and tracked mini excavators. Among these, the tracked segment held major revenue of the global mini excavators’ market in 2020 and is anticipated to continue this trend during the forecast period. Based on Operating Weight, the market is segmented into Less than 4 tons, and 4 tons to 10 tons. In 2021, the 4 to 10 tons segment recorded a substantial revenue share of the mini excavators market. The increasing growth of the segment is attributed to the robust build of these machines. 4 to 10 tons category excavator machines come in a variety of basic configurations, allowing users to pick the machine that best suits their needs in common applications. The 4 to 10-ton excavators include heavy-duty mainframes, fuel-efficient engines, load-sensing hydraulics, and large cabs. The main purpose of these machines is to provide the best possible value to customers in terms of operator experience, performance, serviceability, and affordability. These features are surging the growth of the segment.

The advancements in battery powered mini excavators have significantly increased the usability of mini excavators owing to ease of usability and lower maintenance costs. The battery powered mini excavators are developed to comply with the environmental regulations established by the governments across the world. In addition, factors such as incorporating the latest technologies that enable a mini excavator to be less polluting while as productive as before, are anticipated to grow the demand in mini excavators market.

One of the most common concerns when renting or importing equipment is transporting it from one location to another. Big machinery is more difficult, as well as more expensive, to transport. Mini excavators, or smaller machines in general, are easier to transport since they fit into the trailer or extended pickup beds of a pickup truck. Mini excavators work in the same way as larger excavators as their functionality is not limited by their size. Tiny excavators can still swing 360 degrees, so the user would not have to relocate dump trucks to accommodate the excavator’s location.

Machines loaded with Innovative Features

Today’s mini excavators are designed to accelerate productivity while keeping operators comfortable on the job. Some of them are:

Multiple Tail-Swing Configurations: The mini excavator market has transformed over the years, with manufacturers offering a variety of tail-swing configurations and more models with reduced tail swing overhang. Customers can choose between conventional tail swing, reduced tail swing and zero tail swing. Zero tail swing excavators have grown in popularity over the past decade. Along with this design are variations such as minimal tail swing and compact radius tail swing. Zero tail swing allows operators to work up against structures and obstacles without restricting rotation. The rear of the excavator’s house stays within the tracks throughout the full rotation.

Cab Comforts: A comfortable cab can make all the difference when operators are at the jobsite. The new range of mini excavators is equipped with cab features such as standard heat and air conditioning, suspension seats and adjustable armrests, to help them work comfortably all day long. In addition, advanced displays serve up easy-to-read machine data and control options that help solve more problems in the field. In fact, operators can keep a close eye on diagnostic information and attachment settings, integrate a rearview camera and switch languages. An advanced display option offers touch interaction and device connectivity for added ease of use.

Attachment Versatility: Auxiliary hydraulics can be a standard feature on today’s mini excavators. Hydraulic quick coupler piping is also becoming more common, enabling the use of a hydraulic quick coupler attachment for faster attachment changes.

Depth Guidance Systems: Using sensors that monitor the exact position of the mini excavator’s bucket teeth, arm and boom, a depth check system facilitates companies to program a desired digging depth and dig against that benchmark.

Telematics Systems: There are several new age mini excavator companies offering standard telematics systems designed to protect uptime and help owners monitor their equipment’s health, location and productivity — all from a mobile App or website. Any machine fault codes are automatically sent to the dealer so they can assist with resolving the problems. Dealers can also monitor a machine’s maintenance intervals and make sure equipment gets the service it needs, at a convenient time that fits in customers’ schedule.

Let’s see how global companies have embraced these features into their products are leading the fray…

Tata Hitachi Mini Excavators are compact and most versatile machines promising the best-in-class fuel efficiency, high operator comfort, and safety. The machines are designed to operate even in confined spaces, and they can be used in a variety of applications. Tata Hitachi Construction Machinery has been ranked as the largest selling manufacturer for hydraulic excavators. Tata Hitachi Mini Excavators range has three models TMX 20 NEO, ZAXIS 23U, and ZAXIS 33U, which is designed to meet the requirements of a variety of applications, and its Zero tail swing gives these mini excavators a unique advantage to do work in highly confined spaces as well. These mini excavators ensure high power, high efficiency, and low running cost and are a one-stop solution for the construction, infrastructure, agriculture, and utility equipment needs of customers.

Recently Tata Hitachi launched the all-new 3-Ton Mini Excavator NX30. This is a made-in-India machine – specially designed for Indian application conditions and manufactured to meet the ‘best of everything’ customer expectations of better operating performance, low fuel consumption, easy maintenance, high reliability, comfort, and stunning aesthetics. This machine is in line with the organization’s commitment to Atmanirbharta – a product, made in India for domestic as well as overseas markets.

Tata Hitachi NX30 is the first of the new NX series of hydraulic excavators, that marks the dawn of the next generation of excavators. The NX Series offers Next-generation performance, hydraulics, versatility, comfort, maintenance, and savings. The Next-Gen Mini Excavator NX30 has been designed to provide precision control, high productivity, high fuel efficiency, excellent operator comfort, high versatility, and unmatched return on investment.

Tata Hitachi NX30 is powered by a powerful, fuel-efficient, and productive Yanmar engine and comes with a wide range of bucket options to ensure best-in-class performance. The new NX series excavators come with the next-generation Hydraulic system, which incorporates the latest in hydraulic technology. Powered by the Quadra Flow Hydraulic System, a patent-pending, multifunctional hydraulic system, the NX30 delivers power and speed as per the demands of the application and promises best-in-class fuel efficiency while doing the same. NX30 is loaded with Next Gen features that provide all-around visibility, a comfortable suspension seat, and an ergonomic workstation. All this ensures best-in-class operator comfort minimizing fatigue and maximizing productivity. The machine is easily customizable and versatile as it can work with a range of attachments. Also, it can be easily transported on a small truck or pickup vehicle.

Toshiki Onishi, Director (Sales, Marketing, and Customer Support), said, “Tata Hitachi’s Next Gen Excavators offer a perfect combination of Next Gen performance with lower operating cost. Mini Excavators is the fastest growing market segment in India today, and we are excited to announce the launch of NX30, a made-in-India machine backed by proven Japanese technology. With this, we have strengthened our portfolio of Mini Excavators and reinforced our capabilities to deliver class-leading Next Gen machines to meet the evolving demands of the Mini Excavator market in India.”

The Bobcat line of mini excavators is a perfect example of its approach to design: never stop making it better. The excavators are designed to deliver strong performance in a compact machine to put operators and owners in charge of laborsaving strength and productivity. With a wide range of attachments to choose from, Bobcat excavator is not just a digging machine; it’s a versatile tool carrier. Its most compact machines are amazingly nimble, versatile and reliable machines that can work just about anywhere while packing a surprising amount of power, rivalling bigger competitors. The new Bobcat® E30 mini excavator is a new generation of Bobcat conventional tail swing model offering higher stability coupled with excellent performance and further enhanced controllability. This machine offers a great mix of performance, stability, and operator comfort with conventional tail swing.

During bauma 2022, Bobcat Company revealed its latest electric excavator, the E19e compact excavator, which joins the E10e and the E32e as the product lineup’s third member. Each of the battery-electric excavators have compact footprints, quiet operations and zero emissions. In addition, their electrical motors deliver full torque, regardless of rpm, leading to high productivity, on-demand, multifunctioning performance (without any noticeable decline in power) and smooth hydraulic control. Providing users a run time of roughly four hours of continuous operation on its lithium-ion battery pack, each of the battery-electric excavators can be fully recharged overnight. The E10e and the E19e have standard 120-volt outlets, whereas the E32e has a 240-volt outlet.

JCB Mini Excavators are aimed at intensifying urban infrastructure of the nation by catalysing development across fields like power, irrigation, and housing. Loaded with astounding features like superior structural stability and Advanced Telematics Technology, Mini Excavators enable construction companies to achieve high productivity and connectivity. The JCB Mini Excavator has been designed with high strength components for durability and long life.

JCB range of mini excavators offers high fuel efficiency and excels in providing operator comfort. Its Zero Tail Swing and King Post design offer a unique advantage which is the excavator’s ability to perform in confined spaces. Every JCB Mini Excavator has been designed to perform a number of applications in restricted areas, making it one of the most versatile choices. The range is not only capable of delivering perfect performance in areas with restricted access but also ensures high operator comfort with thin joysticks, optional AC cab and TOPS Canopy. Loaded with highly innovative features, the range is compatible with multiple attachments, making it one of the most versatile choices for a new India.

For instance, the JCB 30PLUS features colour coded hydraulic hoses for quick hose identification and boasts of the latest industry technology. ‘O-Ring Face Seal’ (ORFS) hydraulic fittings provide excellent sealing capabilities. Recessed bonnets and a robust rear cast counterweight provide extra damage protection. High-strength track legs boast three-piece fabrication to maximise rigidity and improve track retention. Chamfered edges reduce spoil retention and make the undercarriage easier to clean. The JCB 30PLUS open-centre track frame design also prevents the buildup of spoil. At the heart of the JCB 30PLUS is a 18.4kW (gross) BS III engine developing high torque of 96kN at 1800 rpm for ultimate performance and efficiency.

The Cat 300.9D Mini Excavator delivers power and performance in a compact size to help customers work in the tightest applications. Its ability to fit through a narrow doorway makes it an excellent machine for indoor demolition work. With an overall width of only 730 mm (2 ft 5 in), the Cat® 300.9D can easily drive through narrow passages and doors. Both indoor and outdoor jobs are now accessible with the under 1000 kg (2,205 lb) weight making easy trailer transportation between sites possible. An extending undercarriage and fold out dozer blade allow the machine to be configured for excellent working stability and optimum performance. Easy retraction, controlled from the operator’s seat, enables the machine to pass through narrow openings. A protective ROPS safety frame structure mounted on the front of the machine allows fitting of a guard for extra operator protection during hammer use. The structure folds down in a few seconds for easy machine transportation and storage. Service and maintenance time is reduced to a minimum with a simple to open steel engine cover and all maintenance and greasing points easily accessible.

An indispensable part of Hyundai’s world quality earthmoving equipment is its fleet of rugged range of Mini Excavators. Hyundai Mini Excavator comes with best market price in India that possesses the powerful Yanmar 3TNV88 Engine to deliver maximum performance. These excavators consist of an innovative hydraulic system that makes this machine fast, smooth, easy to control and can navigate through all types of terrain in the most compact of spaces.

The Tier 4-certified Yanmar 3TNV88 engine is built with a gross power of 27.3 HP @2200 rpm to provide high power output, optimum fuel economy, and reduced noise. This function is designed for easier work in congested residential and urban areas. The boom can be offset left or right within an operating range. Low stress, high strength steel is integrally welded to form a stronger, more durable upper and lower frame. Structural Integrity was tested by way of Finite Element Methods analysis and long-term durability test.

SCHWING Stetter India recently unveiled its premium category Mini Excavator range under the XCMG brand in the range of 2 – 4 tons capacity. These premium “U” series Excavators are XE 20 U; XE 28 U; XE 38 U; and XE 40 U. All the models are embedded with the latest technology. Some of the other amenities that the machines have are boom deflection, Zero tail, modern canopy and AC cabin, for fatigue free operation of the operator, as well as built in Self Diagnostic modules for easy service and maintenance. Schwing Stetter India is a firm believer in creating products that are reliable, have frugal fuel consumption and are high performers; and these are a testament to that belief. Schwing Stetter is also actively increasing its presence across the country; to ensure they can reach their customers irrespective of their location.

Capturing global developments

With mini excavator demand continuing to grow exponentially year-over-year (more than 400% overall since 2011), and strong demand in sectors like landscaping and underground utilities, CASE Construction Equipment is developing one of the industry’s most diverse and comprehensive mini excavator lineups. This includes the launch of two all-new electrified mini excavators and a new diesel-powered mini excavator, and more models scheduled to hit the North American market in 2024. Each of these machines complements the existing C Series mini excavators — giving CASE one of the industry’s most diverse and robust product offerings ranging from 1.5 to 6 metric tons.

Anchoring the new mini excavator launch for CASE is the introduction of two all-new electrified machines, the CX15EV and the CX25EV. The CX15EV is rolling into CASE dealers now, and the CX25EV will be available later in 2023. The CX15EV is a 3,186-pound mini excavator powered by a 21 horsepower/16 kW electric motor — and the CX25EV is a 4,828-pound mini excavator running with a 27 horsepower/20 kW electric motor. The lithium-ion battery featured in both machines is charged either by the 110V/220V on-board charger, or via an external rapid charger that can have the machine charged extremely fast, typically within 90 minutes. Depending on the type of work, the CASE CX15 EV and CX25 EV will provide enough power to work through a full eight-hour day. All while delivering the core benefits of electrified construction equipment: no emissions, reduced noise, and less lifetime maintenance thanks to the elimination of the diesel engine.

CASE is proving that both mini excavators and electrified machines can still deliver the same premium operator-first experience as larger equipment. That operator experience starts with a standard color LCD monitor that delivers easy access to battery information, machine settings and work modes. It also features an electronic pattern changer (for switching between ISO and SAE patterns) and customizable hydraulic proportional controls and auxiliary hydraulics to let the operator dial that machine into their preferences.

Each machine features three work modes that match electric motor speed to the task you’re doing — Power, Standard and Economy — as well as the ability to adjust the sensitivity of the controls to really let the operator control the feel and performance of the machine. This can be done through one of three pre-sets (Precision, Normal or Productivity), or an “Individual” setting that allows the operator to select specific responsiveness for six different bucket and boom actions, as well as swing, travel and blade functions. A load-sensing hydraulic system further delivers smooth and powerful performance that allows the operator to dial the machine into each task.

CASE is also launching a new diesel-powered, true zero tail swing mini excavator to the market: the CX42D. This is the first model of the new CASE D Series and complements the existing C Series product line, giving CASE a broader reach into core weight classes that are in high industry demand. Additional CASE D Series mini excavators will be introduced in 2024.

Building upon its long-standing legacy of delivering innovative technology and machines for its customers, John Deere will display a variety of new and updated excavator models, highlighted by the new 85 P-Tier and 510 P-Tier current generation excavators, at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2023. In addition to these new model updates, John Deere will also be unveiling the first look at their all-new future generation excavators. Both types of updates are examples of how John Deere can leverage technology from across the enterprise to extend advanced features and smart solutions to its full line-up of John Deere excavators, helping to revolutionize the portfolio and deliver the John Deere customer experience.

“We are beyond excited about the future of our excavator line-up, including the new models available to our customers today and the machines being strategically designed and built for tomorrow,” said Aaron Klauer, Global Product Manager, Mid-and-Large size excavators, John Deere. “We are constantly listening to the needs of the industry, and our future generation excavator models not only leverage what we’ve learned from our customers, but also utilizes John Deere’s decades of global excavator experience to bring the most innovative and game-changing machines to market.”

Compared to the 85 G-Tier model, the new 85 P-Tier boasts an 18% engine horsepower increase and the addition of a turbo for high altitude performance.

Hydraulic performance improvements include increased pump torque and improved dig forces. The larger, redesigned cab is equipped with an eight-inch monitor with Bluetooth and a 270-degree camera system integrated into the main monitor. Improved service access and optional features, such as angle blade with float and continuous flow auxiliary hydraulics, round out the updates that improve the performance and versatility of the 85 P-Tier machine.

Coming in at 51-metric tons, the 510 P-Tier is a replacement for the current 470 P-Tier model. Including a variable undercarriage and the ability to handle buckets five yards and above, this new model will continue to deliver exceptional performance and capability in its class, while specifically targeting customer enhancements in operating costs and reliability. By using a more efficient powertrain, including the integration of E-fans, this new model provides customers with up to 25% lower maintenance costs, 15% lower repair costs and 20% lower fuel consumption. This machine is designed to deliver exceptional performance to customers in mass excavation or deep underground applications while providing significant improvement in the cost of ownership.

These new developments are exciting enough for customers who are looking forward to enhancing productivity and performance in their construction & mining activities.

Fast Facts

  • The advancement of improved battery technologies has made acquiring and operating a micro excavator easier. Moreover, the integration of cameras, as well as other spatial sensors, has fueled the creation of a new generation of small excavators that are easier to operate.
  • Rise in popularity of robust and compact construction equipment is the major factor that drives growth of the mini excavator market.
  • Versatile benefits associated with mini excavators such as durability, small size, alternative to heavy construction equipment, and superior maneuverability are anticipated to fuel the demand for mini excavators during the forecast period.
  • Major players are focused on developing fully electric mini excavators for agricultural, landscaping & construction, and other applications, which, in turn, is anticipated to propel growth in the mini excavators market.
  • The extensive applications of mini excavators in installation, maintenance, and restoration of gas pipelines, and electric transmission networks is expected to accelerate the growth of the mini excavator industry.

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