Badhuin at Wacker Neuson notes all Wacker Neuson excavators are built for the contractor who expects and demands high-quality, durable equipment. “All excavators offer the torsion-resistant X-shaped chassis frame, solid-welded structures and steel castings,” he says. “Our pins and bearings are purposely designed to be oversized. On high-stressed bearings, they are supported by replaceable hardened-steel bushings with special machined grease grooves. These bearings, pins and bushings mean the machines can withstand heavy use and many types of applications. This means that the contractor will have lower maintenance cost and higher resale value. Also we have designed the bushings to be easy to replace without the need for machining or welding.”
Zero vs. conventional tail swing
About a decade ago, the equipment world was in the throes of its love affair with the zero tail swing compact excavator. With the introduction of this advancement, operators were suddenly able to work closer to obstacles than ever before, taking jobsite efficiency to a new level. Today, zero tail swing models are still the rage, but operators have realized there continues to be a place for conventional tail swing models too.
“The trend was going from conventional tail swing to zero or minimal tail swing,” recalls Tom Connor, excavator product specialist at Bobcat. “But not everyone wants that now, so we still provide diversity in our line. Today, we have zero, minimal and conventional tail swing models.”
Connor explains that with a zero tail swing compact excavator, the operator can get closer to walls and other obstacles and still rotate fully without damaging the machine or the structure. This increases flexibility for the operator, who can dump dirt behind as well as next to the machine. The drawback is a zero tail swing machine has a wider undercarriage, making it more difficult to get inside tight entries.
“By offering both, customers can choose the best machine that fits their present and future needs," says Steger. "For many years the trend to go with a zero tail swing or minimal tail swing was all the rage and it certainly still proves to be very popular in many applications, but customers are expecting more out of their machines and increasing their versatility by adding more attachments and features on the machine. In order to add multiple attachments or longer-reach arms to many of the compact swing machines means you must hang a large counterweight on the rear to regain some of the balance lost with the heavy attachments. This results in better performance than before, but you are still severely limited by the basic platform when it comes to operator comfort and serviceability. Being able to offer a conventional machine with a long arm has allowed Takeuchi to offer a platform that is better suited for working with multiple attachments and still provides all of the benefits of a conventional excavator design.”
Today’s features, tomorrow’s technology
Bobcat continues to offer arm variations on its models, allowing owners to choose standard or extendible arms. “The extendible arm allows an operator to extend the arm up to 30 inches beyond the length of a standard arm,” says Connor. “This appeals to plumbing and carpentry professionals; anyone who doesn’t want a bigger machine but needs to get over things and get to a depth a distance away.”
For its part, Deere notes some changes planned for the near future. “We are making running changes as we move forward on the popular D-Series,” says Mark Wall, product marketing manager for excavators, John Deere Construction & Forestry. “For example, we introduced an angle blade for the 50D; look for angle blades on additional models over the next few months. Also, we moved the auxiliary control from a proportionally controlled foot lever to a proportionally controlled switch on the right-hand pilot lever. In addition, we’re updating the monitors for better visibility and adding the thumb bracket as standard from the factory to make installation of this popular attachment easier.”
Steger sees future developments for Takeuchi including such features as multiple auxiliary hydraulic circuits and higher hydraulic flows for more attachment versatility, as well as auto idle for quieter, more efficient operation and improved function controls. “On-demand control of the attachments is just as important as controlling the other machine functions,” he says, noting that Takeuchi has a mid-year introduction planned that will continue to expand the 200 Series machines that were first introduced in 2008.
The big picture