Mobile phones and household gadgets are the perfect example of our search for faster, more versatile and, in most cases, easier to use equipment. Similarly, mini excavators now do more than just digging and breaking rocks and have a variety of tools to increase productivity and enable more jobs to be done. Quick couplers are making changing tools faster and with little effort. Augers make drilling post holes and planting trees easier and there are even mowers and mulching heads available. It’s fair to say that we are keeping our work tool attachments team very busy these days.
Landscaping can involve as much lifting and placing as actual dirt moving, whether moving and positioning large shrubs, handling tiles and other building materials or building rock walls. This could involve a lot of manual labour or separate machinery, but the latest equipped mini excavators are ideal for the job and working methods from both sides of the Atlantic can prove useful dependent upon the type of work and budget that you have.
In Europe, we have seen a growth in the use of tilting/rotating couplers.These give fantastic control over whatever tool is attached. In the hands of a skilled operator it is amazing to see what can be done with bucket or grab. Spreading and levelling sand bases, shaping the earth and building rock walls can all be done with great speed and precision.
This does, however, take practice to master and the cost of such a tool means that you must have a lot of work for it to justify installation.
An easier to use and lower cost alternative has been popular for some time in the USA with the hydraulic thumb.Cat® Excavators over three tonnes come thumb-ready with a mounting bracket on the stick and relief valve already installed as standard so installation is very quick. The thumb works in conjunction with your bucket and works just like the thumb on your hand allowing you to handle a variety of objects on site. This is a very cost effective solution and will better suit the occasional user.
If you want even more from your machine, the Cat 304.5E2 CR XTC offers a complete carry and handling solution. Ideal for landscaping applications, the front blade has been replaced with a tool carrier coupler the same as our skid steer product.
Pallet forks, multipurpose bucket and angle blade can now be used, and in conjunction with a rotating coupler or thumb makes this a very versatile machine overall. Expensive or delicate stock can now be moved around with less re-handling – meaning less possibility for damage.
We will never cease to look for the latest developments to improve our lives and I expect that the same will go for mini excavators. With the correct choice of work tools you can do more than just dig or hammer and may only need one machine for the job.
Current Role: I work within the Caterpillar Mini Excavator team as a Product and Application Specialist for Europe, Africa and the Middle East.This involves collecting voice of customer, testing competitive machines and assisting our engineers and dealers to offer the best product possible. This is not a job that is easy to switch off, as there is always a Mini Excavator working nearby. It’s fascinating to witness the variety of jobs being done, and the imaginative ways that our customers use the machines means that there is always something new to learn.
Previous Roles: Almost all my working life has been around compact machines. In a career spanning over 40 Years I have designed, built and marketed product including Backhoe Loaders, Wheeled loaders, Fork lift trucks and Telescopic handlers. For the last 16 Years I have enjoyed working with Caterpillar on our fast growing Mini Excavator product line, helping to develop 4 generations of product alongside our Global design and development teams.