Choosing construction equipment for your company can be a challenge, especially if you’re not as familiar with the compact machines on the market. As you browse equipment to increase your company’s capabilities, you should be informed about what to look for in mini excavators, compact track loaders and skid steers.
To gather the information you need to make the best choice possible, start by learning the basics of compact construction equipment and how the different types can benefit your operations. Additionally, you should be aware of how you can differentiate which compact construction equipment will work best for your project.
What Is Compact Construction Equipment?
Compact equipment is the smallest form of heavy-duty equipment available for companies to rent or purchase. It weighs less and is smaller than other forms of construction equipment.
Due to its smaller size, compact equipment is often utilized on work sites that don’t have a lot of space or that require a lighter touch. For instance, companies or individuals may want a compact piece of equipment when working in a home yard to ensure track marks aren’t left after the work is done.
Benefits of Compact Construction Equipment
Compact equipment comes with several benefits that attract a variety of companies and individuals who need to complete a tough job. Some of the top advantages for compact construction equipment include:
- Superior navigation: Compact construction equipment is built for times when a work site is hard to reach or crowded with other equipment and staff. It can often move in multiple directions easily and can fit in tighter spaces than its larger counterparts.
- Light touch: Since compact equipment isn’t as heavy, it tends to leave less of an impression on the ground. Unlike larger equipment that can leave tire indentations wherever it goes, a compact piece of machinery may reduce tire tread indentations. This light touch is perfect for times when your team is working on sites where the client cares about the ground’s appearance, such as at residential homes and educational or office campuses.
- Easy transportation: When medium- or large-sized excavators are needed at a work site, it often requires a driver with a specialty license and vehicle to transport the excavator from one location to another due to its weight and size. Since compact loaders are smaller, they can sometimes be transported or operated without a specialty license. And since they weigh less and are smaller, they’re easier to load up and transport from place to place.
- Greater productivity: Even a team of your best workers can’t beat the superior speed and power of compact construction equipment. Compact heavy-duty machinery can perform a number of functions much faster than if you tried to do them by hand. By using the compact equipment, your team can complete tasks faster and finish jobs ahead of schedule.
- Power: While larger equipment will give you the highest amount of power, compact equipment can still handle plenty of jobs. The power that compact equipment gives can make quick work of many digging, hauling and demolition needs. Instead of having to make your staff do time-consuming tasks by hand, a piece of compact equipment can make short work of many different jobs.
- Lower Costs: As the smallest form of construction equipment, you get multiple cost benefits for choosing compact equipment. They also usually have the lowest costs of renting and buying construction equipment. Additionally, they tend to need less fuel to run them, saving long-term costs for the companies that employ them.
Types of Compact Construction Equipment
There many different types of compact equipment, but there are a few that are most commonly used for their power and versatility. Skid steers, mini excavators and compact track loaders are three primary kinds of compact equipment.
To help you know how to choose the right mini excavators, skid steers and compact track loaders, start by learning more about how you can evaluate each of them.
How to Choose the Right Mini Excavator
Mini excavators are one of the best pieces of equipment you can use on your work site. They tend to weigh up to 13,000 pounds or 6 metric tons. As excavators, they’re designed to dig deep into the ground, lifting soil and other material. Besides their ability to dig trenches and holes, they’re commonly used for structure demolition and picking up large objects.
When you want to know how to choose mini excavators, you should pay attention to these critical factors that make up an effective mini excavator:
- Bucket capacity: The bucket is one of the most common attachments on excavators, as it can assist with digging, load transportation and other tasks. As you consider excavators, find out how much volume and weight the excavator’s buckets hold. Pay close attention to the engine’s capacity, as it may not support buckets that are designed to handle heavier loads.
- Dig depth: Excavators are well known for their digging ability, and any evaluation between different excavators should take into account how deep an excavator can dig. You should also check to see if the machinery supports additional boom attachments that come in a variety of lengths.
- Engine power: Whether it’s digging a hole or lifting up a concrete slab, a compact excavator relies on its engine to help it complete the task. To see which excavators are stronger, compare the pin and bore specs. Also, examine the hydraulic system. The better the hydraulic system, the greater a machine’s efficiency and productivity can be.
- Lift capacity: How much can the mini excavator pick up and put back down? That’s essentially what you’re looking for when you examine the lift capacity. Evaluate the weight of materials you hope to lift and only select excavators that have the power to make those lifts.
How to Choose the Right Skid Steer Loader
Skid steers are mainly used for digging. A skid steer gets its name by the way the machine has to turn because the operator increases the wheels’ speed on one side while the other side skids across the ground as the machine rotates.
As you look for skid steers, there are a few pieces of key information you should pay attention to. Before you make a purchase or rent one of these vehicles, take the following factors into account:
- Type of lift: Skid steers will either have radial or vertical lifts, and it’s crucial you know the difference as you decide on a skid steer. Vertical lifts for skid steers are designed to access higher spaces that are hard to reach and transport heavy materials, such as lifting heavy pallets from a track and taking them elsewhere. A radial lift is more suited for digging holes or landscaping. This type of lift also tends to weigh less than its vertical counterpart.
- Controller types: How the user can control the skid steer is going to matter towards efficiency and operator comfort. Traditional skid steers tend to have pedal and lever controls. The more modern skid steers usually have joystick controls. Joysticks require less force to operate, and many users find them to be more precise.
- Additional features: Besides looking at the lift and controller types, examine what extra features the skid steer has. For instance, some models have larger wheels that help the compact skid steer improve its stability and get some extra reach. Other models have lights on them for working at night or in the early morning. Additionally, you can check to see how much visibility the cabin provides. Some options provide 360-degree views, while others block out the rear view.
How to Choose the Right Compact Track Loader
Track loaders are designed to handle many tasks, from digging and grading to land clearing and truck loading. Since they use tracks rather than tires, these loaders have lower ground pressure and will be much more stable on uneven surfaces.
As you look for a compact track loader, keep some of these features in mind as you sort through your options:
- Size: Since there’s some variety in the sizes of compact track loaders you can purchase, you may be asking, “What size compact track loaders do I need?” Choosing the right size compact track loader begins with knowing how much power you need. Generally, larger compact track loaders will be ideal for times when you need higher horsepower, as they’ll come outfitted with a powerful engine. If you don’t need as much power, a smaller compact track loader may be the better option.
- Max lift and dump specs: In comparison to other pieces of construction equipment, compact track loaders can be more restricted in terms of their lift and dump ability. As a result, it’s important you check to see if the machine is offering the specs you need to handle whatever materials you need to move.
- Tipping load and operating capacity: As you decide between compact track loaders, look to see how much weight they can handle by examining their operating capacity and tipping load. If you need to transport heavy loads, it’s especially important you know well in advance what your machinery can handle and what it can’t so you don’t have an accident or damage the machine.
Steps for Choosing the Right Equipment
As you begin looking for compact equipment, there are a few steps you can take to ensure you’re picking the best compact construction equipment for your needs. Before you go out and invest in a piece of equipment, use these steps to guide your search:
1. Develop Criteria for Your Needs
It’s helpful to develop criteria to guide you through the selection process. After all, you don’t want to select a piece of equipment that’s the wrong size or doesn’t have the power to complete the job you’re working on.
Besides a simple look at the equipment’s base ability and performance, you should also ask yourself if you’re going to want attachments or not. Since attachments add extra capabilities to compact equipment, they can be crucial to helping your team complete other tasks not related to the original purpose of the equipment without having to rent or buy new equipment.
The general principle for this step is to examine a project’s needs and ask the questions that relate to meeting those needs. Usually, the best construction equipment for your company will give you the lowest operating costs while also providing the most productivity and power overall.
2. Check for Performance and Power
Once you’ve developed your criteria, you’ll be ready to narrow down your choices. At this point, you should have a general baseline for the performance and power you need from a piece of construction equipment. With a general idea about the power you need, you can start to browse construction equipment, eliminating options that don’t meet your needs.
Some of the primary stats you’ll encounter with compact construction equipment will relate to horsepower, lift capacity, dig depth and torque. Determine how much power you’re going to need to get the job done effectively and find machines with specs that offer you that power. Additionally, look into how maneuverable and easy to use the machinery is to ensure it can perform well at your work site.
3. Look for Versatility and Ergonomic Comfort
Whenever you purchase or rent a piece of equipment, you don’t want to sell yourself short. Compact construction equipment can be quite versatile with many different attachments available to expand the machinery’s abilities. With the proper attachments, you can prevent your company from having to rent multiple machines and rely on one machine instead.
The best compact equipment should also be comfortable to operate. The top compact excavator designs arrange the cabin in a way to keep the driver in a comfortable position while they operate the machine. This can include ergonomic seating that can improve the operator’s posture, reducing long term pains associated with sitting for extended periods.
Other ergonomic features include properly positioning controls in close reach of the operator. Additionally, the cabin can be outfitted with tech that makes operating the excavator easier and more precise. Cabins can also be climate-controlled so the operator can stay focused on their job rather than be distracted by especially cold or hot days.
4. Examine Maintenance and Safety
Always check to see what safety features and certifications a piece of equipment has before you invest in it. Newer compact construction equipment has technology that can help make the machine safer to operate. It’s also important the machinery you use has cabs that are designed to prevent rollover and provide protection from loose materials that could potentially harm the operator.
If you purchase pre-owned equipment, you’ll want to see a record of maintenance performed, as well as how much the machine has been used in the past. Pre-owned vehicles with the relevant information will be much more likely to give you reliable performance at your work site.
Those buying pre-owned or new compact equipment should also confirm that regular maintenance checks can be completed easily. If you don’t want to have to spend lots of time completing regular inspections, make maintenance accessibility a key factor in your search.
5. Decide on Renting or Buying
Finally, you need to determine if it’s better to rent or buy your equipment. Either option comes with its own advantages, so you’ll want to consider what works best for your team and your projects.
When to Rent Compact Equipment
Renting is ideal for times when you’re not going to need a piece of equipment regularly. The general rule most construction companies follow is that it’s better to rent when you don’t need to use the equipment for more than 60% to 70% of your projects. The more you use the equipment, the more likely you’ll make back the initial investment that comes with purchasing equipment rather than renting it.
It’s also a good idea to rent when you don’t have the storage facilities and drivers available to assist with storing and transporting your equipment when not in use. If you don’t have the infrastructure, renting can be better since rental companies will often handle the transportation and storage process. With renting, you don’t have the extra expense of storage and may not have to handle the logistics of getting heavy equipment to the needed locations.
When to Buy Compact Equipment
Though buying has higher initial costs, it’s one of the best options for times when you plan to use a piece of equipment regularly. You don’t want to end up paying more in rental costs than you would by buying the equipment. If you know you’re going to need a piece of compact equipment regularly, the better financial decision may be to buy it rather than rent it.
Owning your equipment is especially helpful for times when you need to respond to client requests quickly. You may be able to respond to requests immediately rather than having to coordinate with a third party to receive the equipment and get it delivered to the work site. If you want to be able to react with greater speed to client requests, buying is ideal.
When you buy equipment, you also get some financial benefits, such as resale opportunity and tax deductions. Owning equipment means you can resell it and make some of your money back after getting what you need out of the equipment. The reselling process can enable you to purchase the newest equipment on the market, cycling out the old for the new with the capital injection you get from selling your older machinery. There are also many tax deductions you can utilize after purchasing construction equipment.
Choose Holt of California for Compact Construction Equipment
You need reliable compact construction equipment that can help you complete tasks with speed and accuracy. At Holt of California, we’re proud to provide our clients with the very best Cat® equipment available today, both new and pre-owned. When you work with us, you can select compact construction equipment that meets emission requirements and is built to last. We have skid steers, mini excavators and compact track loaders ready to take your business to the next level with superior power and handling.