Compact Equipment

Nov. 1, 2005
RER: Are there any notable trends in the compact equipment segment? Vargason: The compact equipment market is currently experiencing the development of

Randy Vargason, general manager of Mustang Manufacturing Co., comments on recent trends in compact equipment design and provides an outlook on the market.

RER: Are there any notable trends in the compact equipment segment?

Vargason: The compact equipment market is currently experiencing the development of four trends.

  1. Buyers are increasingly interested in the creature comforts available to their operators in the cab. Features like air conditioning, all-weather cabs and suspension seats are much more popular today than they were even five years ago. AC is among our most frequently requested options. We attribute this to the impact operators are having on the buying decision. Owners are paying attention to comfort features because of their commitment to employee satisfaction and retention. While it has always been hard to find good employees, it is even more so today with the shortage of skilled labor available to construction business owners.
  2. Quick-change attachment systems are also becoming increasingly important to the compact equipment buyer. This is driven simply by the desire for increased productivity and ease of work for the operator.
  3. Track loader and compact excavator sales continue to grow. The compact excavator, which has always been popular in the European market, is now becoming more so in the United States. Buyers are discovering the advantages of working skid steers and excavators alongside one another as opposed to one unit, such as a skid steer with a backhoe attachment or a tractor-loader backhoe. The excavator offers an independent solution, giving the owner the extra utilization of two machines capable of working on two different jobsites or two different locations within the same site.
  4. Smaller contractors are finding ways to add telehandlers to their fleets. And the trend seems to lean slightly toward purchase. After a few years of renting the units, more contractor customers are choosing to add them to their fleets.

RER: Remote control features are becoming more common on various types of equipment. What are the benefits of this type of technology? Do you see this becoming more popular?

Vargason: The benefit is that a remote control virtually eliminates the need for a helping-hand on telehandler applications, freeing crew for other tasks. By equipping a worker on a platform with this system, he no longer needs an operator in the cab to get him into position. He's able to move the boom to other areas of the structure he's working on and even lower himself when the task is finished.

RER: How does the overall compact equipment market look right now? Have you noticed the effects post-hurricane?

Vargason: The market is strong today and very strong in the foreseeable future. The hurricane caused panic for a few days, as dealers were concerned about their customers' buying intentions under the pressure of rising fuel and building-material costs. People wondered if the hurricane would cause 9/11-like effects (businesses closing doors, laying off workers, reconsidering bids or stopping work-in-progress, etc.). However, the nervousness has since eased somewhat as we learn that a dramatic increase in construction projects from that area of the country will likely offset the high prices we expect. Retail business continues to be strong, and the fuel costs seem to be steady for the moment. The fuel-cost fear is still in the back of everyone's mind, but we all continue conducting business in the smartest, most customer-centric way we can.


The new Vermeer S600TX rubber track mini skid steer is designed for rental and landscaping customers. A spring-cushioned platform positioned within the framework of the machine reduces the need to walk through worksite debris, mud and uneven terrain. Positioned at 14.5 inches high, the platform allows greater visibility to the attachment and bucket edge. Ergonomically designed, the skid steer features two single joystick controls. Equipped with a universal mounting plate, operators can easily hook up a variety of attachments. In addition, the 7- or 9-inch tracks provide enhanced stability and lower operating ground pressure.
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Ditch Witch

In response to requests from compact utility equipment customers for greater power and productivity, Ditch Witch introduces the SK350 mini skid steer. It is engineered to work longer without refueling, run more compact utility attachments and provide greater overall power and efficiency than other machines in the 20-hp class. For added convenience, the gas and hydraulic tanks are mounted on the frame to enable operators to refuel or top off hydraulic fluid without raising the engine hood. The SK350 is able to effectively drive more than 70 compact utility attachments and is powered by a 20-hp Kohler engine.
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The Finn Eagle compact skid steer is designed for landscape installation, irrigation installation, nursery work and other labor-intensive areas. Offering the highest hydraulic flow rate in its class, the Eagle features a parallel hydraulic system that provides full power simultaneously to all functions. As a result, the Eagle can provide maximum power to the drive wheels and the working implement at the same time. A universal faceplate allows the Eagle to fit any standard compact attachment, including the auger pictured here.
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Caterpillar expanded the capabilities of the 301.6 and 301.8 mini hydraulic excavators with the introduction of the C Series models. The new machines feature 22 percent more bucket digging force and greater than 10-percent more stick digging force than the previous models. Increased lift capacities add to versatility and flexibility. Designed to get more work done, the new machines have about 4-percent more horsepower and increased hydraulic flow. A choice of stick lengths, Cat work tools and dozer float function increase versatility.
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IHI offers 12 mini excavators with digging depths of 5 feet, 2 inches, to 14 feet, 1 inch; and bucket forces from 2,160 pounds to 14,730 pounds. IHI offers smaller units designed to appeal to homeowners and utility contractors, as well as larger units to meet the needs of general contractors.
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The MT52 mini track loader was designed with landscapers and groundskeepers in mind. The ride-on platform option can be installed or removed within a couple minutes and is the only ride-on in its class. A new user-friendly control system controls direction, and speed with one multi-function handle instead of two independent hand levers. The loaders lift and tilt functions are also controlled by one lever. The unit has a 520-pound rated operating capacity and features an 18.8-hp, liquid-cooled Kubota diesel engine for improved pushing and turning power.

Glen Holloway, manager of Grand Rental Station, Fairview Heights, Ill., has owned a MT52 mini track loader since 2004. He credits its labor-saving abilities, reliable diesel engine and the convenience of the ride-on platform for its success with his rental customers.

“Usage of the Bobcat MT52 has far exceeded my original expectations,” Holloway says. “A homeowner can rent the machine for four hours to do the work it would take a day or longer to finish by hand.”
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The PC09-1 compact hydraulic excavator is designed for contractors in a variety of construction, utility, landscaping and other small-to-mid-sized applications. The PC09-1 has an overall width of only 2 feet, 4 inches and a slender tail design. Its expandable undercarriage allows passage through narrow doorways, and offers expandability up to 2 feet, 10 inches for increased stability during excavation. The optional breaker arm easily converts from bucket to hydraulic breaker since the breaker point is stored on the side of the boom when not in use.
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Gehl's new 40 Series is a mid-size family of skid-steer loaders designed with an optimized combination of power, speed and performance. The four 40 Series models provide operating precision and maneuverability with high horsepower, superior hydraulic power, increased load capacities and spacious operator compartments. Operating weights range from 6,200 pounds to 7,800 pounds. SAE operating loads range from 1,500 to 2,400 pounds to meet the varying needs of users and applications. New 2011 Series Deutz diesel engines offer from 46 to 82 hp.
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John Deere

Ranging in size from three to five metric tons, the new John Deere 35D and 50D zero-tail-swing compact excavators provide reduced cycle times; better comfort with updated controls and cab; and lower operating costs with the introduction of auto-idle and longer oil change intervals. A new, long arm and heavy counterweight option provides an additional foot of digging depth and reach. The wide variety of Worksite Pro attachments for the 35C and 50C also work with D-Series machines.
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The new Mustang 2066, 2076 and 2086 models offer SAE-rated operating loads of 2,000, 2,200 and 2,600 pounds respectively. All three models offer operators a selection of control options, good operating capacities and Cummins Tier II diesel engines. The 2066 will replace the 2064, and the 2076 will replace the 2074. The new models offer a spacious, redesigned operator's compartment.
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Allmand Bros.

Powered by a Kubota liquid-cooled diesel engine, the Allmand TLB-225 heavy-duty compact tractor loader backhoe has a 2,875-pound digging force and an 8-foot, 4-inch digging depth. It tackles many tasks typically performed by larger machines, while its compact size allows it to be towed on a trailer behind a pickup. The TLB-225 offers a maximum lift capacity of 1,700 pounds and a 2,600-pound breakout force.
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Tiger Equipment

The Cheetah mini loader incorporates Stand In the Middle (SIM) design technology. The operator platform is in the center of the unit, which enhances stability, visibility and safety. It allows the operator to enjoy the faster travel speeds associated with ride-on units, but without the bumpy ride experienced with a rear platform. Tipping capacity ranges from 1,200 pounds on the diesel model to 1,050 on the gasoline model.
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Kanga Loaders

Kanga Loaders' new 7 Series Fat Track features full-time, non-marking tracks, 24-hp Kubota diesel engine and is available with more than 40 multi-purpose attachments. The 7 Series' extra ground clearance and holding makes it well suited for trenching; post hole boring; carrying heavy loads; and clearing rubble, waste or even snow.
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The C87D dozer is compact, 8,400 pounds and can be hauled on a skid loader trailer. It features an 87-hp liquid-cooled, turbo diesel-powered engine. Hydrostatic, pilot-operated joystick controls provide fast and responsive blade function, good machine control and increased productivity. With its cab-forward design, the operator has unmatched visibility of the 86-inch, 6-way articulating blade. Single grouser tracks give superior gripping power for this lightweight unit, enabling it to take on the most punishing terrain.
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The TL140 rubber track loader is a third-generation loader that combines the power of the TL150 with the versatility of the TL130. Powered by a fuel-efficient, 81-hp Isuzu diesel engine, the TL140 features a two-speed travel system for operating at both high and low travel speeds. In addition, it uses a hydrostatic drive system directly coupled with planetary final drives for durable, efficient power transfer that an operator can easily control. The TL140 incorporates a wider and longer track design and features an operating weight of 9,590 pounds, tipping load of 5,952 pounds and bucket breakout force of 7,403 pounds.
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The increased hydraulic flow of the enhanced Toro Dingo 323 compact utility loader translates into added power, allowing operators to complete jobs quicker and more effectively than with previous models. Offering more flow from the high-flow pump, the Dingo 323 produces 15 gallons per minute of flow at 3,000 psi of hydraulic pressure. The exclusive 4-Paw independent four-wheel-drive system constantly directs hydraulic flow and pressure to all four wheels, ensuring optimum power and traction, regardless of soil conditions. It is powered by a 23-hp air-cooled Kohler engine and offers more than 35 quick-change attachment options.
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Case CX compact excavators offer zero tail swing and a center-swing boom for maximum productivity in tight workspaces. The five models deliver from 11.9 to 36.5 net hp, bucket digging forces up to 8,747 pounds and dig depths from 6 feet, 11 inches to 11 feet, 11 inches. All are equipped with a hydraulically controlled backfill blade for added machine stability and light dozing work.
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Kubota's ultra-compact excavator features a standard foldable ROPS that protects the operator and allows access through doorways, under tree branches and around other obstacles. The unit is powered by a Kubota liquid-cooled, three-cylinder diesel engine that is rated at 10.2 hp. It has an operating weight of 2,200 pounds. The K008-3 comes standard with a Two Pattern Selection System, allowing the operators to select either ISO or SAE operating patterns.
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Yanmar's model ViO35 mini-excavator, rated at 7,740 pounds, with an 11-foot maximum digging depth, is designed to make landscaping work more productive. Bucket changes are made easy with Yanmar's hydraulic quick-coupler system, designed to use many manufacturers' buckets. Large dozing blades coupled with Yanmar's VICTAS offset track design combine to provide class-leading side-to-side stability without increasing track width, the company says.
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