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Mini but mighty – compact equipment built for big jobs

Contractors have typically defaulted to manual labour in job scenarios where it's not practical to bring in a full-sized excavator or loader. However, with labour in short supply, many are turning to mini-excavators and loaders, which deliver a surprising level of productivity. 

In this edition of Experts Corner, we spoke with two of SMS Equipment's compact equipment specialists - Matt Chatters, Regional Sales Manager for our compact line of equipment based in Alberta, and François Roy, Manager of Major Accounts for our East Region. Below, they share how their customers take advantage of this rapidly-growing equipment category.


Addressing the labour crunch

Finding enough workers to match the workload is one of the top challenges for contractors, and few can afford to expend that precious resource on time-consuming manual tasks. Many are turning to compact equipment to bring machinery productivity to places where traditional equipment could never go.

François: The reality is that there is a shortage of manpower right now, and contractors are looking for solutions. There is a wide range of applications with tight spaces where you can't use a traditionally-sized excavator, so having equipment that meets many different job site situations has become more important than ever. 

Matt: I think compact equipment is one of the fastest-growing segments of the construction equipment market. It's been around for a while, but people now realize that as we do more and more building on sites where space is at a premium, these smaller machines are very efficient and productive.  

Finding the niches

The unique jobs and applications that call for compact equipment are long and varied. Accordingly, compact equipment is incredibly versatile, with a full range of tools and accessories. 

Matt: Everyone seems to be using compact equipment. We see use cases for general contractors, landscapers, underground contractors, demolition companies, and we're seeing that for industrial, commercial, and residential. 

François: We're seeing some uses that we wouldn't expect to see. I had a call from an organization looking for a small excavator that they could drop at remote sites to do maintenance work. So it had to be transportable by helicopter. We provided a Takeuchi TB210, which weighs 1000 kg. After they had tried it out and seen its power, they purchased even more units. 

Keeping people safe

Manual work on construction sites can often be categorized as dull, dirty, and dangerous, with safety being the most critical concern. Compact equipment is well suited for work in tight and precarious spaces where you wouldn't want to send a worker with a shovel.

François: There are a lot of rules and restrictions when you work in a tight space. For example, in residential applications, we're seeing smaller suburban lots, which means digging in tight spaces near the lot line. So instead of sending a couple of workers to do shovelling in the trench, more contractors are using compact excavators to do the job.

People also use our hybrid machines, which run on electricity, for tunnels and spaces where you don't want people breathing exhaust. Hybrids are also suitable for indoor demolition. For example, you can remove interior walls in a hospital without shutting down the whole facility. You can also transport a compact excavator in a freight elevator. 
Understanding the equipment's capabilities

Understanding the equipment's capabilities

Compact equipment pulls a lot of weight for its size, and people are often surprised by the power and durability of this class of equipment. 

Matt: One of the things people don't realize about the compact track loaders is how much traction force the machines have and how much they can push and lift. And the comment I get about the compact excavators is that they punch way above their pay grade. Others say they're built like tanks. These machines are a well-built option for getting a lot of productivity in the field. 
Listening to operators

Listening to operators

Compact equipment is similar in operator look and feel to the larger sized equipment, allowing for a straightforward transition. Therefore, operators are excellent judges of what the equipment can do on their job sites. 

François: The Takeuchi equipment has similar controls to a large excavator, and the levers are similarly located, making it easy for an operator to switch between machines. 

Matt: The specs for the equipment will tell you a certain amount, but I think that if you're looking for a machine, you need to let your operator try out the equipment and talk with people who own them. There are so many models and options to choose from; taking the time to find the right machine to best support the unique needs of your business will go a long way. So I look to get the machines in front of people. 


The Bottom Line

Compact equipment fills a niche for many scenarios where space and labour are at a premium. The equipment is highly versatile and delivers performance that a seasoned operator would expect to rely on. SMS Equipment provides and supports the Takeuchi line of compact equipment. 

Seeing is believing

At SMS Equipment, we believe that trying out the equipment is the best way to understand its potential. We sell and support the Takeuchi compact equipment line across Canada and Alaska, making it easy for our customers to engage with us to discover how this growing class of equipment can best meet their needs. 

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