Certain models also offer variable-width track systems for easy access through narrow openings.
The hydraulically-controlled undercarriage on Takeuchi's TB108 and TB016 models provides the ability to narrow the track width for better access in tight work areas, then expand it to provide stability, notes Mike Ross, product manager at Takeuchi.
Yanmar's tracks adjust both in and out and up and down independently, says Curt Unger, general sales manager. This provides the ability to level the unit up to a 10° slope.
Another advantage of compacts is the ability to power hand-held hydraulic tools via the excavator hydraulic system. "It used to be you used air hammers that needed a compressor and hoses," says Unger. "Now hydraulic tools have replaced air tools. An excavator can run those tools off the front of the machine so now you don't need any additional compressors and hoses. There's a whole group of equipment that has been eliminated."
Achieving zero tolerance
Because their size makes small compact excavators ideal for indoor applications, exhaust purifiers, or "scrubbers", are available for diesel units.
IHI also offers an electric model for use in areas with zero tolerance for emissions. Its 75-ft. cord plugs into a generator or, with the proper voltage, right into a wall.
"Our electric model is easy to maintain because it doesn't have as many moving parts as a diesel," says Aldridge. "There are no fumes and no emissions. It's a niche product, but for the right contractor, it can pay for itself in one job if it's big enough."
Ohio Concrete Sawing and Drilling in Sylvania, OH, has four IHI electric models. One was recently used to perform demolition for an addition to a mall in nearby Toledo.
"Without these machines, we would have had to do this job by hand," relates Skip Aston, owner, adding that the mall had a zero tolerance level for emissions.
The machines are small enough to fit through a 34-in. doorway. "And they can dig to a depth of 5 ft. That covers most applications we need," Aston notes.
He adds, "I like these machines because they don't get tired. And they're quiet - about the noise level of an electric fan. The only way anyone knows we are around is because they hear the dirt scraping against the bucket."