Mini excavators are extraordinarily useful and versatile pieces of equipment, but are they the best choice for your current project? Their smaller size can be a significant advantage and make them an economical choice compared to larger plant machinery. In this article we will address several of their merits to make the choice easier.
Simply put, yes of course, there are a wide variety of mini (or compact) excavators for hire from a wealth of companies. Plant hire is far more cost effective than purchase and mini excavators can be adapted to multiple roles on site. To be cost effective, purchased equipment must be used at least 70% of the time on site. In addition, maintenance, inspection and insurance cost fall to the owner and equipment depreciates in value over time. With hired equipment from a reputable company, rental and fuel costs are all you need to consider.
If you are planning to drive an excavator of any size on public roads, a valid driving licence will be needed. However, on private worksites and access roads, no licence is necessary. Under the 2011 Work Health & Safety Act, certification is no longer needed for excavator operators. Operators must be competent and trained in the use of excavators and all manuals and information supplied must be read and understood. Legally, the Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) is ultimately responsible for operator competence. They should be aware of authorised users and their knowledge of correct use, control measures, safety and maintenance.
On many worksites excavators see as much use as lifting equipment as they do for excavation. Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) inspections should be performed on all lifting equipment at regular intervals. These should be conducted by a ‘competent person’ trained in lifting equipment inspections, who must compile a written report of their findings. Under Section 6 of the Health And Safety At Work Act, hire companies are considered suppliers and responsible for providing safe products. This includes pre-hire testing of equipment, thorough examinations and inspection at the required intervals. For especially long hire periods, a written agreement can be arranged to pass this on to the hiring party. Usually, the user will only be responsible for day-to-day and pre-use safety checks.
Obviously this depends on the size of the model being used. The Takeuchi TB210R has a modest digging depth of 1.755 metres, whereas the TB260 6 tonne can reach 3.895 metres. The specific job will dictate the reach required, although it is worth considering a digging depth slightly deeper than needed. This anticipates any work complications requiring additional depth without the need for further equipment. Ground type should also be considered when selecting an excavator. For example, if building on soft ground, deeper footings will be necessary. Hard soil with a large clay content will need a higher bucket digging force in addition to reach. If digging in existing buildings, underground pipes and utility services (broadband cables, electrical supply etc.) demand precision work to avoid damage. In these cases the relatively shallow digging depth and narrower bucket width of mini excavators are ideal.
Despite being referred to as ‘diggers’, excavators often see as much use lifting and removing obstructions. Even when digging, the refuse needs to be removed or transported by lifting. In the case of rubble, hardcore or concrete the volume of waste in the bucket will be significantly heavier than soil or similar materials. As with digging depth, the lifting capacity will increase with the size of excavator and should be assessed before hiring. Two factors dictate lifting capacity for an excavator: hydraulic capacity and tipping capacity. Hydraulic capacity is the maximum weight the equipment can lift before the hydraulics stall. Tipping capacity is the point where the load weight will cause the excavator to lift and potentially tip over. Lift charts based on manufacture testing will be included in the Operation and Maintenance manual and clearly displayed on the machine. This will usually be in the cab or canopy within easy sight of the operator. It should be noted that lift capacities are calculated for work on level, even surfaces and working on slopes or uneven ground will alter them. Lifting capacity should be included in excavator specifications on the hire company website. If in any doubt, speak to the company themselves to ensure you have the correct equipment for your specific lifting needs. Safety is critical when lifting and the outcome of any accident could be catastrophic for the operator and other workers nearby.
Mini excavators are usually defined as models below 7 tonnes in weight although micro diggers can weigh as little as a tonne. This lightweight construction is one of their greatest strengths, allowing them to work on soft or fragile surfaces without causing damage. In addition, most models are equipped with expanding rubber tracks that distribute the weight of the equipment even further. This makes them ideal for interior work or on finished surfaces. The higher weight and metal tracks of larger models can easily dent or tear floor surfaces or pavement edging. Finally, the low weight of mini excavators make them easy to transport by trailer or truck.
SERV Plant Hire are plant and machinery specialists offering a huge variety of construction equipment for hire to the North West of England. We have a wide range of mini and micro excavators for hire, with attachments to suit any need. Contact us to discuss your requirements, we will be happy to answer any questions and ensure you have the best equipment for the job.