BALTIMORE, Md. – The Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS) will present its School of Grounds Management Summer Conference in Sacramento, Calif. from Aug. 3-5, 2015.
The Toro Company presented Reinders, of Sussex, Wis. with its 2014 Partner in Excellence award for Best in Parts Operations. Reinders has won the award three times in the last four years - 2011, 2013 and 2014.
The Weathermatic Board of Directors has elected Malcolm S. Morris as its chairman of the board. Morris currently serves as chairman of Stewart Title Guaranty Company. He is also vice chairman of Stewart Information Services Corporation.
JOHNSON CREEK, Wis. – BOB-CAT announced the addition of the XRZ Pro to its line of zero-turn radius (ZTR) mowers.
Compact excavators can get shoved aside in the landscape industry, with many contractors focusing money and space on skid-steers and track loaders. But before you go ahead and convince yourself that the bigger the machine, the better it is for your company, consider giving these smaller pieces of equipment a try.
For the past two years, Bobcat has been getting Tier 4 up and running on its compact excavators. Tier 4 Final is a set of emissions requirements established by the EPA, which comes into effect this year.
“It may not be that exciting, but it is what happened,” says Tom Connor, product specialist for Bobcat. “Tier 4 is a fair amount of work for one thing.”
Bobcat now offers four types of compact excavators in the 3-ton category, which is the bulk of its business in North America.
Mini and mighty
Compact excavators weren’t the only machines updated recently. Here’s what’s new with mini and compact track loaders.
Takeuchi. The company added a new compact track loader to its line last year.
The TL8 is Tier 4 Final compliant with high pressure common rail injection and both DOC and DPF exhaust after-treatment.
The track loader comes with a sealed and pressurized cab for operator comfort and the cab features a multi-information display. The cab also comes with the option of an overhead door and hydraulic attachment quick connect.
Terex. Last fall, Terex introduced its Generation 2 line of compact loaders, including a mini-track loader. These new loaders feature more than 100 enhancements from the previous models. The improvements were made based on customer and distributor feedback, as well as warranty data collected over the last six years.
“These features combine to offer operators powerful machine productivity on every jobsite, and equipment owners a high return on investment,” says Jonathan Ferguson, regional sales manager for Terex Construction Americas.
Based on the previous loader models, Terex’s new GEN2 compact track loader utilizes the company’s Posi-Track suspended undercarriage technology. It also features an all-rubber track system, which allows it to achieve higher traction and higher flotation, allowing for use of the machine’s higher travel speeds.
To coincide with that, Bobcat also came out with a new instrumentation package that offers two different levels: a basic level and then a more advanced one, which comes with a full color screen, full diagnostic capabilities of the machine and the ability to support other programs.
“The instrumentation was a big hit with the dealers and of course, ultimately, the customers,” Connor says.
Bobcat also added a depth check, which can guide the operator as he’s digging. It helps sustain depth and grade, and create a slope if the machine is being used for that.
“These systems have been common on large machines, but not that common on minis and that’s what we wanted to bring down and make it simpler and easier to adapt,” Connor says.Connor says you shouldn’t assume that everyone can drive a compact excavator or mini-track loader just because they can drive other forms of compact equipment.
“Whereas with bigger equipment, I see fleets where they would never dream of assigning a worker to hop on a 3,500-pound excavator and dig a hole, I see that too often on the mini excavators and compact equipment in general, he says.”
Bobcat has also updated its attachments for compact excavators. Fifteen years ago, the company came out with a clamp on the larger machines, and now has made an enhanced clamp, called the Pro-Clamp. It provides multiple positions for the clamp tip and an alternative tip for that clamp structure to help contractors with a wider variety of tasks.
“It’s beginning to really become the norm on machines,” Connor says. “We wanted to take it a step further.”
“Right now we’re going through a full new generation change for our excavators starting with our 8.5 ton and then it’ll start to slowly migrate its way down our line,” says Jake Jeffords, compact excavator product manager for JCB.
JCB is updating its compact excavators completely to Tier 4 Final.
Instead of having the Tier 4 Final with a diesel particular filter on its machines, JCB has a diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC). With the DPF, the engine will have to regenerate at some point, forcing some operators to stop the machine. The DOC burns while the machine is running, meaning it’s able to burn all the gases off.
JCB is also moving away from a hard plastic or fiberglass body on the machine to a 100 percent steel body.
The reasoning behind this is that JCB wants contractors to be able to keep the machine in good condition.
“A lot of contractors will try to sell them again so (the steel body) makes them look good,” says Jeffords.
JCB has also updated the service intervals and service access, making the machines easier to access for checking the oil, checking the hydraulic fluid and anything that involves walking around the machine.
The company also added a 30-degree roll back cab to give access to any of the hydraulic components under the cab for easy maintenance.
Over the past two years, John Deere has been upgrading the five models of compact excavators in its lineup, with the final two launched at the beginning of March.
All of John Deere’s compact excavators are now Tier 4 Final.
“Just like the big machines, the smaller ones have to meet those requirements,” says Mark Wall, John Deere product marketing manager for excavators. “So now they can take those machines into any area that requires those emissions standards.”
With the Final Tier 4 update, John Deere didn’t want the changes visible to operators.
As a result, three of the models run without after treatment devices on them, meaning no change for the operator. The remaining two do have after treatment devices, but running the machine is still seamless to the operator.
“We don’t ask them to pause; we don’t ask them to hit a button. We don’t ask them to do anything outside of their normal operating regiment,” Wall says. “Just get in the machine, run it, dig dirt. Do what you’ve got to do with it.” John Deere has also redesigned the cooling to increase the uptime of the machines. The company has gone from a stacked cooling system to a side-by-side cooling system.
“We’ve listened to what a lot of our customers had told us about compacts and what they were looking for,” Wall says. “We tried to incorporate those into the new series.”
To help with operator comfort in these smaller machines, John Deere has redesigned the operator station as well, making the door wider for easy entry and exit and giving the operator better visibility through the door and the front.
“The guy that has the big machine, they’re coming down to the little ones and getting in those machines,” Wall says. “We want them to feel like they’re sitting in the big machines.”
Takeuchi has redesigned its compact excavators from the ground up.
“Takeuchi took the opportunity to build its newest excavator platforms around the new Tier 4 power plants,” says David Caldwell, Takeuchi product and training manager. “Machines got a little bigger and a lot more capable.”
The company updated the operator stations on the compact excavators, making them more functional and spacious. One of the updates was to put multi-information displays on both of the canopy/cab models. These displays provide the operator with a lot of machine information and allow the operator to adjust the hydraulic flow for the attachments.
The operator station also features a multi-function switch bank that includes DPF control, auto idle, multiple work modes, detent for primary auxiliary circuit and a lift/overload alarm.
Terex recently introduced two new Tier 4 Final compact excavator models to its North American line-up. The machines offer the same features popular on older Terex models, such as load independent flow distribution and Terex Fingertip controls, with the capabilities of the Tier 4 Final diesel engine.
If you already have larger equipment, it may seem foolish or wasteful to put money toward a smaller machine. However, you may find that the benefits outweigh the price, especially with the option to rent the equipment.
“Contractors are savvy when it comes to using this equipment,” says Jonathan Ferguson, regional sales manager for Terex Construction Americas. “What they continue to struggle with is when to rent versus when to buy.”
His advice is to make sure the compact excavator or mini-track loader is going to be adequate for 85 to 90 percent of your jobsite needs.
“Don’t sacrifice power, breakout force or anything else just to save a dollar,” he says. “Always buy quality. A compact excavator or mini-track loader needs to be durable and reliable because downtime is expensive.”
When you decide to buy, it’s also important to decide what brand is best for your company.
“You should look for a distributor who is conveniently located to your jobsites, who can deliver the parts and services you need quickly,” Ferguson says. “He says it’s also a good idea to consider how responsive and expansive the company’s dealer network is and if you’re comfortable with the technology that company has put under the machine’s hood.”
“Contractors generally use the equipment to meet their specific needs,” says David Caldwell, Takeuchi product and training manager. “There are many variables a contractor must consider when making an equipment purchase.”
One of the variables he includes is transportability. Make sure you don’t need special license requirements to move the equipment from jobsite to jobsite. It’s also important to consider size. If you do mostly large jobs, putting money into a compact piece of equipment may be a waste of owning and operating costs.
Some contractors may purchase a compact excavator or mini-track loader, and then try to use them as much as possible to get their money’s worth, even if the equipment shouldn’t be used.
Tom Connor, product specialist for Bobcat, says there are many days when he could go out and find people who are using the equipment in ways the manufacturer didn’t intend.
“I see guys that are trying to break sidewalks with the tips of their bucket teeth when they should be using a breaker,” he says. “They’re in the heat of the moment. That’s really not what the machines are designed for.”
However, just as some contractors are using the equipment in ways they shouldn’t, they also aren’t using the equipment in ways they should.
“The great part about a compact excavator is that it’s versatile,” says Jake Jeffords, compact excavator product manager for JCB. “You’re able to use different attachments. It can, especially for the lawn and landscape side, be a really versatile machine.”
Because there are so many different attachments for these smaller machines, Jeffords says they can really benefit the contractor.
Ferguson says compact excavators can be used to increase productivity on a lot of projects if the machine is paired with the appropriate attachment. However, he says the attachments won’t help if the machine’s settings aren’t correct.
“No matter what attachment an operator is using, the key to productivity is to make sure the machine’s hydraulic flow is matched to the attachment,” he says.
Connor says he often sees contractors using the larger equipment on jobs when the smaller machines would work just as fine, or even better.
“In many cases, they’re perhaps overkilling by hauling a full-sized machine to do what a compact equipment could do better,” he says. “A larger machine doesn’t always mean you’ll get the job done faster.”
Connor says sometimes a larger machine can hinder your project, because it doesn’t move as easily or compactly as smaller machines. He says people think that because the machine is bigger, it can do more work, but that’s not always the case. While the compact equipment might not be able to move as much dirt in one bucketful, it can move five bucketfuls in the same amount of time.
“There are still a lot of people out there that have only had exposure to large equipment,” he says. “They doubt the abilities of compact equipment. We continue to see people that are awakening to see how valuable compact equipment is.”
Mark Wall, John Deere product marketing manager for excavators, adds that sales in the market for compact equipment have increased over the years.
“I think contractors are learning every day value of compact excavators and the amount of power, the amount of versatility they have on these machines,” he says. “I think contractors have picked up what these machines can do and are really leveraging what they can do in their businesses.”
“If you’ve never tried one, go sit in the seat and try one,” Wall says. “Most people will be impressed with the amount of work these things will do.”