From digging and backfilling to moving and placing pipe, the excavator is the go-to machine for utility contractors. To highlight these hard-working pieces of iron (as well as the companies that construct them), we’ve gathered the histories, product offerings and specs for the biggest names in the marketplace.
Over the next 10 pages, learn all about the product lines of the most popular excavator manufacturers in North America — from Caterpillar and John Deere to Komatsu and Volvo. Compare specs of different models or simply discover the beginnings of a brand you love. There are even insights and advice from industry insiders to aid in purchasing decisions and maintenance matters. Sit back, relax and dig in.
Pam Kleineke is managing editor of Utility Contractor.
From Compact to Large, 15 Models Poised to Meet Customers’ Needs
Hitachi built its first hydraulic excavator — the UH03 — in 1965. Since then, more than 2.5 million excavators — from super-small compacts to mining-sized machines — have been sold across the world. By only focusing on excavators, Hitachi has always been able to concentrate exclusively on improving smoothness, precision, power and operator comfort. Loaded with numerous customer-driven enhancements, these excavators deliver productivity and durability, while keeping operating costs low.
Hitachi’s lineup consists of a vast selection of excavators — 15 of which are in the 6 to 86 metric ton range. Whether your focus is landscaping, light residential, urban renewal or underground utilities, Hitachi’s excavators deliver efficiency, reliability and durability for your business. Hitachi’s field-proven EPA Tier 4 Final Isuzu engine technology is simple and efficient, employing cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), a diesel oxidation catalyst and selective catalytic reduction. Diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) is injected into the exhaust stream of the engine, runs through a catalyst and turns the NOx in the exhaust into harmless water vapor and nitrogen gas. The EGR is specifically tuned to further reduce NOx (compared to Tier 4 Interim) to meet new emissions standards with minimal use of DEF. Additionally, an improved piston design allows particulate matter to be burned in cylinder, so there’s no need for a diesel particulate filter.
Product Spotlight: ZX245USLC-6
With a tight tail-swing radius, the ZX245USLC-6 is perfect for contractors working in and around obstacles. The machine features a powerful Tier 4 Final Isuzu engine complete with integrated, effective engine technologies and does not require a diesel particulate filter. In addition to the emissions upgrade, Hitachi included features its customers have been asking for, like a standard rearview camera, standard factory-installed auxiliary hydraulics with programmable attachment modes and upperstructure handrails.
According to Mark Wall, product marketing manager for Hitachi Construction Machinery – Americas, it pays to conduct routine maintenance on your equipment — especially with the large variety of attachments and applications that are available in the marketplace these days. Seek out manufacturers’ guidelines to determine the routine maintenance schedule for your machine. In addition, pay attention to:
- Track sag — proper track tension will prolong undercarriage life.
- Oil change intervals — use oil sampling to help determine if manufacturer oil change intervals are correct for your application. Frequent change of attachments could introduce more contaminants into the hydraulic system.
- Draining the water off the fuel tank — today’s emissions-compliant engines use fuel to cool components. Warm fuel in the tank on cool days could result in condensation in the tank. Drain the water from the tank per the manufacturer’s recommendation and fill the tank at night to help prevent condensation.
- DEF levels/cleanliness — keep the DEF clean. Manufacturers have gone to great lengths to make sure the system uses clean DEF per the guidelines. Keep the DEF supply, transfer pump and nozzles clean.