Mini Excavator Small Footprint, Big Scope

Mini excavators are finding increasing acceptance across projects, given their widening scope for varied applications, especially urban construction jobs where space is limited for larger machines to operate. NBM&CW reports

The rising need for construction equipment to work at constricted sites has been leading to rapid developments of newer technologies across the value chain, during the past decade. This is especially true for manufacturers of mini excavators who have been developing more advanced solutions, while also leveraging their R&D and design capabilities to produce smaller, more compact versions.

Mini excavators are highly specialized machines. The key to their performance, and thereby rising demand, is their ability to work in constricted spaces, with high speed, and undertake varied applications from urban constructions to specialized agricultural field jobs like trench digging, small canal works, sewage disposal, waste management, fisheries farming, etc. The list is endless.

With its versatile features, the equipment can also find application in small scale municipal pipeline works, park maintenance, building basements, etc. As light machines, they can be lifted by cranes to reach high-rise buildings for undertaking demolition work on any floors.

The Government’s new initiative to supply potable water to households through laying of water pipelines under the ‘har ghar jal’ program, will further widen the mini excavator’s scope of work, and increase its demand.

The market for mini excavators is expanding and becoming more competitive. According to industry estimates, the size of the mini excavator market in India during 2020 was 1530 units, up from the modest 300+ units in 2014.

Deepak Shetty, CEO & MD, JCB India Ltd.
Deepak Shetty, CEO & MD, JCB India Ltd.
Rapid urbanization is creating a spurt in demand for compact machines like the mini excavator, which also offers customers wider use in projects of all types and sizes. This is because mini excavators are highly versatile and have the capabilities to work with a wide range of attachments. They can handle and manage solid waste, facilitate construction of pipelines, trenching work, etc, in urban and semi-urban areas that have space constraints.

JCB India has an expansive range of mini excavators between 3-ton to 5-ton in models 30 plus, 50Z and 51R. These excavators have high fuel efficiency, give excellent productivity, along with operator comfort during operations. They are designed to work at higher speeds and ensure structural stability needed for urban infrastructure construction. Our range is compatible with multiple attachments like soil drill, rock breaker, etc. Operators have the option of customised mode selection such as light, eco, heavy and heavy+, depending on the nature of work.

JCB’s latest is the 5-ton JCB 50Z - a compact excavator with an operating weight of 4.95 tons, a 2.7 meter boom, and a 1.45 meter arm, is powered by a 48 hp (35.7 kW) engine. Designed for urban infra construction, the JCB 50 Z has zero tail swing, high-end structural stability, 8 operating modes, auto-idle, and one-touch idle feature.

Its intelligent display with dial-type throttle control makes it capable of handling numerous jobs in plantations, for pipe laying, narrow drainage cleaning, canal sediment removal, trenching work, utility work in industrial plants, and so on.

JCB’s 51R features leading digital screen technology. Users can tailor and store an optimum number of settings for total control of the machine. Its compact size, superior structural stability, higher lifting capacity, clubbed with advanced safety features, positions it as a highly productive machine. 51R is fitted with 2.7m boom and 1.57m arm, combined with a reduced tail swing. Both the 50Z and the 51R come with bucket capacities ranging from 0.10cum (trench), 0.14cum (standard) and 0.17 cum & 0.22 cum buckets for lighter materials.

JCB 30 plus is a 3 ton compact mini excavator. It comes with a maximum bucket capacity of 0.076 cum, engine power of 24.7 hp (18.4 kW), and a maximum operating weight of 2,870 kg.

JCB mini excavators are supported by our network of over 60 dealers and 700 outlets across India. With the introduction of newer solutions, we have also been investing in skilling our operators and in training our dealers. We have also invested in setting up warehouses for parts supply in places like Pune, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Guwahati, and the latest at Bhaproda near Delhi - said to be the industry’s largest warehouse with an area of about 160,000 sq ft.

JCB Mini Excavator

JCB mini excavators are equipped with Livelink for remote monitoring and fleet management on key parameters like service, operations and security. As we move ahead, we will continue to invest in smart technologies and bring in more innovations to offer unmatched benefits to our customers and the end-users. We have developed an internal tool called ‘Smart Serve’ to aid dealers in supporting our engineers to improve efficiency and productivity of our machines, thereby improving their profitability.

Rahul Shorey, Head-Construction Business, Tata Hitachi
Rahul Shorey, Head-Construction Business, Tata Hitachi
Tata Hitachi has been at the forefront of developing the mini excavator market in India. We introduced the TMX20 in the country way back in the late 1990s - that too as a completely indigenous product. Over the years, we have gained extensive know-how on the construction jobs that the mini excavators can perform.

As their demand and application scope increased, we have been packing them with a host of competitive features. Apart from the 360 degree revolving, as in any other excavator, our mini excavators offer boom swing, which assists in digging and loading in areas where full swing is not possible - as when working alongside a wall.

The compact frame of Tata Hitachi excavators is enhanced by the zero tail. This enables the operator to focus only on the front side operations in compact areas.

Tata Hitachi offers three variants of its mini excavators (2 ton to 3 ton), namely TMX20 neo, ZAXIS 23U, and ZAXIS 33U. The ZAXIS 23U and ZAXIS 33U feature the latest hydraulics and zero-tail swing. They have superior ergonomics, performance, and safety features. The operator station is protected by a ROPS/ TOPS structure. Their compact design makes them easy to transport in conventional and mini light axle pick-up trucks.

The zero tail swing of ZX20U and ZX33U allows them to operate in extremely compact spaces. Their full metallic cover provides higher durability, and they offer ease of maintenance as it is easy to access the machine parts. To make the machines suitable for Indian working conditions, we have fitted them with radial air filters and air pre-cleaners.

The TMX20 neo is the first ever mini excavator manufactured and sold in India. Its specialty is its simplicity and robustness.

All our mini excavators are built with most reliable Japanese engines, proven hydraulic systems, and durable structures. They are high performing, comfort driven, and offer ease of maintenance. Most importantly, they deliver higher fuel efficiency.

To suit multiple applications, our mini excavators come with a range of bucket options like general purpose bucket and narrow trench bucket, besides attachments like breakers, mechanical quick couplers, and augers.

Tata Hitachi Mini Excavator

To make our mini excavators more competitive, we have indigenized our 3T HEX to ZX33U, and will be doing the same for ZX20U shortly. We have also updated the TMX 20. This is because indigenisation will make our machines more economical. To promote our specialized mini excavators and backhoe loaders, we have set up a compact vertical, exclusively for their promotion, sales, after- sales etc, and we are also leveraging our dealer network to drive sales of our mini excavators.

Dheeraj Panda, Director Sales, Sany Heavy Industries India
Dheeraj Panda, Director Sales, Sany Heavy Industries India
In the mini-excavators segment, we offer variants from 2 to 5 ton, and have recently launched a compact and powerful 2.7-ton - the SY27U. It is equipped with an advanced remote management system (EVI) as standard feature and is especially designed for compact & slurry terrains. Sany’s range of mini excavators offer best-in-class features that include an ergonomic operator compartment design for more operator comfort. They are designed for reliable performance, even in the toughest of applications. Their zero tail swing, boom swing and offset features provide trouble-free manoeuvrability in congested spaces. They can operate easily at a very close distance from a wall or building without repositioning the machine.

Sany India’s mini excavators also provide best-in-class fuel efficiency with an optimum rated engine power of up to 42HP@ 2200 rpm. They come with an advanced load sensing hydraulic system for a power-optimized performance, along with improved dozer speed. The self-diagnostic system with an informative color display provides an additional competitive edge to the range. The diagnostic system also reduces unforeseen repairs and maintenance costs, while the standard ‘battery disconnect switch’ prevents battery drain and also enhances machine serviceability.

To improve users’ acceptance of the mini excavators, we are providing comprehensive onsite training to the operators. The training could be part of a new equipment induction, or upgradation program, for new personnel, or simply for refreshing and building experience. This end-to-end training ensures that the operators have complete knowledge of the equipment controls, operating procedures, and the solutions they provide.

Sany Heavy Industries Mini Excavator

Sany India also imparts training to customers’ maintenance staff on basic machine troubleshooting and machine maintenance practices. Product support is provided through Sany India’s dedicated team of 350 plus certified engineers deployed across the network of 37 dealers and 150+ touch points in India and South Asia.

Rajiv Chaturvedi, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, After Service & Parts, Hyundai
Rajiv Chaturvedi, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, After Service & Parts, Hyundai
In India, Hyundai is offering two models of mini excavators: the R30Z-9AK and the R35Z-9 – both of which have been improvised recently with new canopies, option of air conditioned cabins, etc, designed to bring more reliability in performance and lower operating costs due to better fuel efficiency through a high performing engine and an efficient hydraulic system. Both the products are being imported from Hyundai’s parent manufacturing company in Korea. Hyundai has targeted the R30 for the rental industry, while the R35Z is being positioned for the industry segment. The competitive advantage of R35 is its higher power and higher reach of the bucket.

There is a sizeable demand for mini excavators of 2.6 tons to 4 tons in India. As compared to 2017, this segment has grown by more than 85% in 2020, largely due to its commercial advantage over the backhoe loader, and its performance, especially in trenching jobs. As the market grows, we will come up with more innovative products since Hyundai is keen to garner a bigger share in the mini excavator segment. We are evaluating the market trends, and will offer more product options if the demand is consistent and grows further, post the pandemic. We will offer world-class products fitted with a powerful engine, a highly responsive hydraulic system, a strong undercarriage, a robust structure, and a higher working range.

Customers of Hyundai mini excavators derive maximum productivity and less downtime due to the service support throughout their machines’ lifecycle from our dealers, stocking facilities for parts supply across the country, and the services of our qualified engineers. The company has set up central component repair workshops including mobile workshops for in situ product repairs, to address the growing service expectation of customers.

Our customer support program encompasses product acquisition with the right investment, efficient product utilisation, product REMAN (remanufacturing) facilities to optimise cost, and product disposal at the right value. We believe that our service programs and spare parts incentive programs through Hy-Value App, make our customers more profitable over the lifecycle of their Mini Excavators.

To promote its products, Hyundai India is giving field demos and product trials to its customers, besides engaging with them on various exhibition platforms and at local events. The company also holds training programs at customers’ sites to acquaint them with the many features and functions of the machines’ components. Services engineers, operators, maintenance personnel and machine owners have gained a lot of information from our practical training. We believe that it is our strong, dedicated channel network of over 250 touch points is the key enabler in bringing a higher value to our products, over our competitors.

Hyundai Mini Excavator

Growing urbanization is triggering the growth of the mini excavator segment in India, where it accounts for 2-3% of the Excavation Industry, but in developed markets, it accounts for more than 50%. Contractors and rental companies are beginning to appreciate the versatility of the machine to work in confined space with higher efficiency, plus the operating cost of a conventional mini excavator is approximately one-third of that of a Backhoe Loader. In view of these advantages, demand for Mini Excavators in India has increased by 50% in the last 4 years. Also, the Government’s focus on projects like Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and Jal Jeevan Mission is giving a thrust to the Mini Excavator industry. We see the mini excavator market to continue to grow to around 5000 units in the next 2-3 years.

Rajnikant, Marketing Head, Fine Equipments
Rajnikant, Marketing Head, Fine Equipments
Fine Equipments has an exclusive marketing tie-up with Takeuchi of Japan since 2016 for marketing its mini excavators in India. Globally, Takeuchi pioneered the concept of the mini excavator. The company’s expertise as a hydraulic rock breaker manufacturer gave it a deep understanding of the working of the mini excavator, such as the loads it could lift and what force it would need to exert for different jobs, and consequently, the dynamic forces that would impact the machine during its functioning. Based on these considerations, the mini excavator was designed and engineered by Takeuchi.

For example, the most ideal class of mini excavators is said to be in the 2-ton and the 3.5 ton. If anything lesser or more than that is deployed, by not calculating the indexed requirement, there can be a serious disruption in the operating cost. In view of this, we have been promoting Takeuchi’s TB219 (2- ton ) and TB235 (3.5 ton) mini excavators, as the most suitable for the Indian market.

Many rental companies in India deploy a lesser capacity excavator for a job which it may not be suitable for. We have seen this when working with a hydraulic rock breaker, which can create a return vibration during its operation and thereby create stress on the hydraulics or the parts, and consequently lead to chances of equipment failure. Ideally, a 3-ton machine, indexed to the work it has been assigned with the rated power, will be able to do light or heavy tasks more efficiently.

Takeuchi mini excavators have a spacious operator station, an automotive – styled interiors, and a powerful hydraulic system. The combination of superior operator comfort and precise control is the reason why Takeuchi mini excavators outperform competing machines. The mini excavators come with pre-fitted, pipeline adaptation kit to fit various attachments with ease, like rock breakers, augers, grapplers, etc.

Product support to Takeuchi mini excavators is rendered by Fine Equipments through its 35 + pan India dealers, who are adequately trained to ensure higher availability of the excavators.

Fine Equipments Mini Excavator

The company keeps a close eye on upcoming projects, new government initiatives for infra development, and live tenders. Having a sizeable customer base, pan India, also enables us to access customers and promote our mini excavators and spread awareness on their utility.
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