When and How to Use a Mini Excavator
A mini excavator is a tracked or wheeled vehicle with a slew of uses in construction. It can weigh up to 20,000 pounds, which is the cutoff point for a machine that you can consider compact. Some definitions have a cutoff point for mini excavators at 10,000 lbs, though.
Mini excavators are popular machines because of their versatility, with many uses for different construction jobs. However, not every mini excavator is suitable for every job. You can buy machines of different sizes and weights according to the tasks you need to complete. Find out below about some examples of when using a mini excavator is a good idea for site work.
Mini Excavators vs. Standard Excavators
It’s important to understand the differences between compact and standard excavation machines. Mini excavators offer some benefits compared to regular excavators that make them better suited to certain jobs. Standard excavators are also useful machines in their right. You need to make your choice depending on the job at hand.
Mini excavators are lighter and smaller, meaning they offer reduced track marks and top ground damage. The compact nature of mini excavators compared to larger machines makes them much easier to work with on crowded sites. A standard excavator’s large size can cause problems in a parking lot, for example. A mini excavator can get around a parking lot easily. Another benefit of the smaller size of compact machines is that you can easily transport them between sites. You can load your excavator on the back of a utility truck or trailer for quick transfer between sites. Always make sure the trailer can support your excavator’s weight first.
You can expect a mini excavator to have a longer life than a larger one simply because the work it does is less intense. Mini excavators have typical bucket sizes of between 12 and 24 inches. You can also add some attachments to mini excavators, improving their versatility.
Mini Excavator Parts
The following are some of the main parts on mini excavators.
- Cab: operators sit in the cab and control the machine. The cab on mini excavators allows for 360-degree rotation.
- Undercarriage: the undercarriage houses both the gears and the motor. The undercarriage is also where you’ll find the track roller that helps the machine move over the ground.
- House: the house connects to the undercarriage. The house holds the excavator engine and fuel cylinders.
- Boom: the boom is a long-hinged extension used to connect to the attachments.
- Attachments: you can fit some attachments to compact excavators. Trenching buckets, grading buckets, and rippers are all examples of parts you can fit on the boom.
- Engine: the engine is what gives the machine power, helping to move the boom and the hydraulic tracks.
- Stick: the stick is an extendable piece that connects the boom to the undercarriage.
Uses for Mini Excavators
One of the major draws of mini excavators is that you can use them for a slew of different tasks. The sheer number of possible attachments and the light frame are what make the mini excavator such a versatile machine. The following examples showcase some construction jobs that are ideal for using a mini excavator.
Repairing Sewer Lines
For basic sewer line repair jobs, a mini excavator often makes for a better option than a full-size machine, such as a trencher. The reason you can opt for a mini excavator for sewer repairs is that mini excavators do the same job at a lower price than the larger machines. The only thing you need to assess is the required digging depth for the sewer line to make sure it’s within reach of a mini excavator. Once you gauge that you can use a mini excavator, it doesn’t make sense not to choose this tool for the job.
Installing Pools and Hot Tubs
Many Americans enjoy having a pool or large hot tub installed outside their homes. You can see just how popular pools are from the fact that there are 10.4 million residential swimming pools in the United States. Since many state laws make homeowners get special building permits for pools, they often look to contractors to do the job. The compact nature of mini excavators makes them perfect for navigating a backyard that might not fit a larger digger.
City workers often need to clear roads covered with snow during the colder months of the year. Mini excavators can clear snow effortlessly using a special blade attachment. The compact size and low weight help these machines to get around snow-covered roads quicker. The result of using mini excavators to plow snow is clearer, safer roads.
Demolishing Small Structures
Many site jobs call for the demolition of small structures such as sheds. A good way to effortlessly destroy any small structure is to use a mini excavator. Such machines are fit for this purpose because they can get around small areas efficiently and fit into tight spaces such as gates. Without a mini excavator, you may need to demolish structures with hand-powered tools, which takes a lot more time.
Sometimes you need to dig holes in awkward areas of sites you might work on. Construction teams often resort to using slow methods for excavation in these areas, including old-fashioned shoveling or hand-powered tools. A mini excavator’s ability to move into difficult areas of sites makes it the ideal machine for digging holes in, particularly tough-to-reach spots. Using a mini excavator on smaller sites to dig holes can speed up projects, freeing up time to finish other important tasks.
How to Use a Mini Excavator
Mini excavators make many construction tasks safer and more efficient. Their small size allows for quick movement into awkward areas that can speed up many jobs, including:
- Plowing snow
- Digging holes
- Making small trenches
- Demolishing small structures
- Repairing sewer lines
- Landscaping work
- Digging swimming pools or garden ponds
- Plowing snow
It is important to follow the steps such as those below in order to operate excavators correctly.
- Select a Trained Operator
Even though these machines bring many benefits to different construction jobs, untrained workers should not use mini excavators. Workers need to have an in-depth understanding of how to operate compact excavators before using them. Paying attention to the details of each machine is vital.
- Read the Excavator Operation Manual
When buying a mini excavator, always ensure you get the manufacturer’s instruction guide. Anyone planning to use a mini excavator should go through the manual thoroughly. The manual contains detailed steps on using every control and a description of what the controls do. Check for warning labels on the machine itself. You can often find warnings from the maker of the excavator inside the cab. The warnings tell you when not to use the machine and what danger signs to watch out for. Also, make sure you know where the fire extinguisher is. Check the coolant levels and the engine lubricant before first use.
You reduce the chance of an accident when you or any workers using a mini excavator take the time to become familiar with each new machine. Mini excavators are powerful tools that deserve respect.
- Test the Machine
After reading through the directions, it’s time for you or anyone using the excavator to test the machine. Mini excavators use either a standard ignition with a key or a digital keypad. Make sure you use your seat belt. Even though mini excavators don’t move at high speed, the seat belt protects you if the machine overturns.
The ideal testing location is a large, open area with a level surface. Go through all the controls and get a feel for the machine. Get used to the rotating cabin, which enables you to see how the controls respond to your inputs easily. Make sure you gauge how the boom responds to the controls. Mini excavators are quite stable, but a level surface helps reduce the risk of overturning the machine for inexperienced users.
- Get Accustomed to Driving on Tracks
Most excavators use rubber tracks. The tracks can typically only move forward and backward. You need to get used to moving the machine using a limited range of wheel motion. The controls let you move the right and left tracks on their own. By moving the tracks separately, you can make turns in all directions. By using the hand controls together, you can move the machine forward and backward. It takes a while to get used to turning and moving these machines, though, making proper training even more essential.
Whether you work as a contractor or construction manager, you should always consider buying a mini excavator for jobs or sites that might need them.
The great thing about mini excavators is that they are ideal for selecting on a per-project basis. Consider buying a mini excavator from DIG-DOG. You can choose from a range of the latest compact excavators in some different weights for the best price.