Buying Guide: Information to consider before purchasing a compact excavator

May 10, 2021

Compact excavators continue to gain in popularity due to their versatility and high production on job sites where space is limited such as digging next to a structure or in a single lane of traffic. The number of machines that fit in the compact category are numerous, so choosing one that best fits your operation takes careful consideration.
 
“Determining the customers’ application, budget and what size machine would make them the most productive is the starting point,” stated David Caldwell, Product Manager for Takeuchi. “You have to establish what their goals are and how they intend to use the machine. Reviewing key specifications such as dig depth, working range, bucket capacity/breakout and lifting capacities with the customers will ensure they have the right machine for the job.

Dig depth and reach are important because a longer arm will allow you to dig deeper and reach further, minimizing how often the machine much be repositioned and increasing efficiency,” Caldwell added. “If you are going to run attachments, having multiple hydraulic circuits gives you versatility and the ability to perform a broader range of tasks. A primary auxiliary circuit allows you to install a variety of hydraulically driven attachments, while a second auxiliary circuit is ideal for a hydraulic thumb, and a third auxiliary circuit allows you to install a hydraulic pin grabber coupler.”
Applications play a factor

Applications play a factor

Applications play a factor in what undercarriage to choose, according to Matt Chatters, SMS Equipment Sales Rep, Light Construction.
 
“If demolition is the primary purpose, then it would be best to have steel versus rubber; whereas if you are working in sensitive areas, rubber makes more sense,” Chatters explained. “Additionally, personal preference plays a role in choosing a compact excavator. If the machine is being operated off and on throughout the day instead of steadily for several hours, that makes a big difference. The length of time spent in the seat make the options of a larger cab, backup cameras and ergonomic controls more attractive.”
 
Both Chatters and Caldwell said mobilization should be considered. “The size of the machine will dictate how it has to be moved,” said Chatters. “Some will need a car hauler and ¾-ton truck, while others require a multiple-axle trailer and a one-ton or bigger truck. Think about what you have and if you need to upgrade your hauling capacity, which increases your investment.”

Caldwell noted that whatever the application, it’s likely that Takeuchi has a compact excavator to suit your needs, with several different tail swing configurations across more than a dozen models. Conventional, FR (Full rotation or “Front and Rear) and ultra-compact are available.

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Attachments increase versatility

Attachments increase versatility

As mentioned, compact excavators can be more versatile with attachments such as hammers, shears, augers, trenchers and grapples, mowers, mulchers and other hydraulically driven implements. Pressure, flow and overall weight of the attachments should be considered to ensure maximum performance.
 
“You have to make sure the attachment is correctly matched to the machine,” said Caldwell. “For example, an auger with too little pressure is going to lack torque and be ineffective. Make sure you take the time to properly spec. things out through research and communication with your Takeuchi or dealer rep.”
 
Takeuchi introduced a full line of products through its new Takeuchi Attachment Program that are designed to work with its compact excavators, wheel loaders and track loaders. More than 40 are available, giving you the ability to customize machines to your particular applications.
 
“Beyond the standard bucket and hydraulic thumbs for excavators, common attachments include a tilt bucket for ditching and final grade work,” said Ian Webster, SMS Equipment Sales Rep, Light Construction. “Hydraulic pin grabbers are quickly becoming popular for quick bucket change outs as owners look for ways to speed up work. Breakers, augers and screw pile drivers are also popular.”
 
Webster said the machine’s cooling ability should be taken into account when it comes to attachments.
 
“Can it dissipate the heat generated by the attachment?” said Webster. “If it doesn’t, there are options to add additional remote-mounted cooling packages to help compensate.”
Factor in ease of maintenance

Factor in ease of maintenance

Maintenance should factor into the equation when buying any machine, including a compact excavator. You want to limit downtime, and Takeuchi helps with simplified service points. Caldwell said a proactive approach keeps overall ownership costs low and increases profitability.
 
Webster agreed. “Maintenance should be at the forefront of all purchases. You should know if parts are readily available, how easy it is to service the machine and attachments or change out wear components. If it is, and you can perform the maintenance yourself, that’s a savings you can put to other uses such as grade control technology.”
Additional considerations

Additional considerations

There are other important questions to ask such as should I buy new or used?
 
“Budget is the major consideration with this question,” said Caldwell. “New machines may have less maintenance and repair costs up front while a used machine will have a lower entry cost but may need repairs more quickly. If you are looking for a lower cost upfront and can find a well-maintained used machine, that may be a good fit.”
 
SMS Equipment’s Garry Fournier, Sales Rep, Light Construction said that buying versus renting should definitely be a consideration.
 
“Renting works for individuals and companies that need specific piece of equipment, but sparingly. It’s that simple,” said Fournier. “You can straight rent or do a rent-to-sale (RTS) option. RTS is a great choice for those who have an upcoming project and need a specific type of equipment, but don’t really know if they will need it in the future. It allows them to build equity in the machine and use it if they convert the rental into a purchase.”
SMS Equipment representatives can help you determine what’s right for you.
 
“Working together with customers, we can find solutions to practically any need,” said Fournier. “We encourage anyone who is looking for versatile excavators with excellent digging power and the ability to run a wide range of attachments to contact us about demonstrating a machine.”  

 Matt Chatters, Sales Representative, Light Construction
  • My 25 years of experience in the construction industry as both a manager and a business owner provide relatable practice when it comes to overcoming the challenges of purchasing the right equipment with the right dealer.
 Ian Webster, Sale Representative, Light Construction
  • As a Red Seal Journeyman Technicians, I have over 10 years of experience in the industry, working on all types of equipment ranging from compact units to various construction equipment.
  • I provide a wealth of mechanical knowledge to my clients, whether it’s assisting them in the event of a breakdown, providing guidance in repair process or offering quality sources for parts and service.
 Garry Fournier, Sales Representative, Light Construction
  • With over 20 years of consultative selling experience in the light construction industry within the Calgary area, I pride myself on being able to understand and solved the needs of our clients in a timely manner.
  • Having worked with clients on wide range of projects, I have the equipment knowledge and experience to save you time and money.

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