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.
Solid Production Meets Fuel Efficiency
As a leader in the earthmoving equipment industry, Caterpillar has been in the excavator business now for more than 40 years. Today, the company produces more than 50 models to meet a variety of needs, including both track and wheeled options suited perfectly for underground utilities. Fuel efficiency is always important to a contractor’s bottom line and Caterpillar knows just that. The company’s hybrid technology allows operators to harness the power of their machines, while maintaining production and lowering fuel consumption.
Product Spotlight: 336F L XE Hybrid
The latest model from Caterpillar is the 336F XE. The Tier 4 Final machine features hydraulic hybrid technology to deliver an estimated fuel savings of up to 20 percent compared to its conventional counterpart — with no compromise in performance and no added maintenance costs or maintenance complexity. The machine features Cat 2D Grade for operators to easily maintain a consistent grade. It also comes equipped with a new factory-integrated Cat Payload system to enable operators to load trucks with just the right weight, while allowing managers to remotely monitor the machine’s productivity.
Other features include:
- Low 5.5 gallons/21 liters per hour fuel burn
- Onboard payload system for accurate truck loading
- High-pressure and available medium-pressure circuits for 60+ Cat attachments
- Quiet, comfortable ROPS cab for maximum safety
In addition to power and pipe-lifting capability, Caterpillar says the machine has a quiet and comfortable roll-over protective structure cab with climate control for year-round work, ground-level access to make routine maintenance fast and easy, heavy-duty construction for demanding work and responsive product support — all to make contractors more profitable.
“Cat 2D Grade is like having a surveyor or the blueprints right inside the cab,” says Ryan Neal, Caterpillar product application specialist. “It limits the time a person needs to be in the trench. Plus it’s easy to upgrade to 3D for more complex jobs.” Neal adds Cat Payload will really help operators hit their production targets quickly and efficiently, which means no more costly over- or underloading trucks.