According to Egnoski, electricians, plumbers and other specialty contractors often have specific requirements for the size of attachment that can be used. ?When I trench for electricians, they all want 1-ft. buckets. Plumbers want 18 in.,? he says. He was currently digging out 6-ft. sidewalks for a concrete contractor. ?I have a 3-ft. bucket on the excavator, so it?s two wide and I?m done. And I have 2-ft. buckets, too.?
Egnoski also maintains a large selection of auger bits. ?I started out with two bits... I ended up with 12, 18, 24, 32 and 36 in., because there?s always some demand that comes up,? he says. ?So you end up buying another $5,000 worth of bits.?
Although the costs can add up, the time savings alone can often pay for the investment. ?Every job is going to require different specifications,? says Ron Peters, product manager, CEAttachments. ?If you need a 12-in. trench, it doesn?t make any sense to dig a 24-in. trench and waste all that added time and money to remove the dirt... And generally, when you fill the trench back up, you?re going to have to compact the soil. There?s more work involved to go dig a larger trench than you really need.?
Lower cost of transportation
Egnoski often travels with a couple different attachments loaded on the trailer with the loader or excavator. For example, he?ll have a bucket to prep sidewalks for a concrete contractor. ?Then I sometimes take my roller [attachment] and roll it for them because it?s faster than using a plate compactor,? he says. ?You take a 5-ft. vibratory roller, go over it a couple times and you?re done.?
A recently purchased 5-ft. rototiller frequently works in combination with a Harley rake. This summer, the combination was used to restore yards damaged by flooding. ?That ground is so hard. So I would go in and rototill it first, then I would go in with the Harley rake to do the final on it to get it set for seed,? Egnoski explains.
The ability to transport a smaller carrier and attachments rather than multiple dedicated machines reduces overhead costs. ?With a skid steer and some attachments, you generally don?t need a CDL, because it doesn?t weigh as much as dedicated equipment,? says Peters. ?You don?t need a big dump truck and trailer to haul the smaller equipment around.?
Fewer loads also mean less cost. ?I use [a roller and grader] quite a bit for doing gravel driveways, because I can haul all the equipment in one load. I can put the roller, the grader and one machine on there and go do the job,? Egnoski points out. ?If I had a roller and a grader and a skid loader, that?s three trips to the job. If I can go with one trip, my overhead starts coming down. I don?t have to have a bigger trailer, a [different] license, a bigger truck, more insurance. I stay low so my cost stays down.?
Getting more for less
Clearly, the ability to do more with compact machines can be an advantage in the right circumstances.
?Getting into tighter areas with compact excavators, skid steers or compact track loaders has opened opportunities for some [contractors],? says Doug Laufenberg, John Deere product marketing manager - attachments. ?And with this smaller equipment, many times, they can get added versatility by adding attachments.?
?You can have less money invested in your products and be more productive, doing more jobs,? Peters comments. ?You can do the whole job from start to finish with one skid steer or track loader, but you utilize different attachments to do it.?
An obvious benefit is a lower capital investment. ?Typically, the attachment is lower in initial purchase price than a dedicated machine,? says Laufenberg. ?Adding a vibratory roller attachment might cost around $7,800 vs. a dedicated walk-behind, double-drum roller at approximately $27,000 or a ride-on roller for over $50,000. Granted, the dedicated rollers may do the job in one pass vs. doing two with an attachment, but you have much less invested in the attachment and you are getting better utilization out of the skid steer vs. having a dedicated machine sitting idle for most of a job.?
Willingham asserts, ?If I were buying dedicated machines, I would have millions tied up in [equipment].? He cites the cost of a dedicated drill rig for augering holes as an example. ?I can buy a whole new skid steer, an auger and some other stuff for the same price. It?s economics.