While it is still common for excavators to be used for digging trenches, there is also an increasing amount of specialist equipment being developed and used for a sector which is being pushed to both economise and innovate.

CAT CM20160810-46396-58189

The Cat PL61 pipelayer

One of these innovations is in the form of a new AMT Pipe Trailer attachment for the Articulating Multi-Purpose Truck (AMT) from Ardco. Designed for safe and efficient handling of pipe, the AMT Pipe Trailer offers adjustable lengths and a good load capacity, making it ideal for utility construction applications.

Built specifically for the Ardco AMT 600, the pipe trailer attaches to the truck using a supplied hitch mount with conventional fifth wheel connection. The trailer features a flexible-load rear frame with 45° swivel capabilities, trailer axles with available braking system, and various tire options.

To protect against damage to pipes or other products, the load surface is constructed of oak timbers and the side pole surface is Teflon-coated. The trailer offers a load capacity of 22.68 tonnes. Trailer length can be adjusted from a maximum of 10.6m to a minimum of 6.7m.

The pipe trailer is one of many Ardco attachments compatible with the modular back-end platform of the AMT 600. The AMT 600 has a two person, fully enclosed, all-weather ROPS (roll-over protection structure) cab that is sound rated to 68dB. A seven inch display in the steering column provides digital gauges with onboard diagnostics, digital manual access and an optional backup camera display.

Compact equipment

A new horizontal directional drill (HDD) specifically designed for the utility installation market has been launched by Vermeer. The compact D10x15 S3 Navigator is designed to provide more power and carriage speed, and lower sound levels than its D9x13 S3 Navigator HDD predecessor.

“Market feedback indicated that utility contractors who are operating compact size drills are demanding more performance,” said Tod Michael, product manager at Vermeer. “We listened and responded by optimising the horsepower, thrust, rotation and carriage speed of the new D10x15 S3 to help utility contractors install more feet per day.”


Built specifically for the Ardco AMT 600, the pipe trailer attaches to the truck 

The D10x15 S3 features a 44.7kW Deutz TD2.9 Tier 4 Final engine — said to provide a 36% power boost compared to its D9x13 S3 predecessor. Vermeer also increased the thrust/pullback to 44.5kN, the maximum torque to 2,033.7Nm and the maximum spindle speed to 220rpm.

With sound an increasingly important consideration for contractors, the company said that the drill’s reduced sound levels help reduce disturbance on residential jobsites, and enables easier communication among the crew members.

“Measuring just 3.8m long, the D10x15 S3 has one of the smallest footprints in its class,” added Michael.

“When a crew is working in a residential area with limited space, they may have to set up in the street. The compact design of the D10x15 S3 helps minimise traffic disruptions in a neighborhood.”

New equipment

A new drill was recently debuted by Terex Utilities at the International Foundations Congress and Equipment Expo (IFCEE) in Orlando, US. The redesigned A650-30 auger drill features enhanced control systems and a hydrostatic drive transmission, which was said to lead to easier operation. The A650-30 offers a drill depth of 9m and drill diameter of up to 1.83m.

The A330 and A650 have radio remote controls — said to be a first in auger drill operation — and the new control system allows the truck, unit controller and unit engine to talk to each other, which supports the application of radio remote controls. The advantage for the operator is improved productivity, comfort and visual reference.

The enhanced auger drills have many features that are automated, including auto brake release, inner-Kelly retract stop, inner-Kelly slack stop, home position, return to center and dig depth. The return to center allows the operator to return the auger to the drill position used previously.

“This keeps the hole at the proper diameter and the proper vertical position throughout the dig, regardless of how many times the operator needs to clean the dirt from the auger tool,” said Gary Rice, Terex South regional sales manager.

T770_Jocar_WS32_Wheel Saw

The Bobcat T770 compact tracked loader with a wheel saw attachement

Transports i Excavacions Jocar, based near Barcelona, Spain, is a family business with more than 25 years of experience in earthmoving, demolition, compaction, grading and the supply of aggregates. Company owner Joan Carles Mora recently added the new Bobcat T770 compact track loader to the fleet.

Powered by the Bobcat D34 diesel engine, providing 68.7kW of power at 2,400rpm, the Bobcat T770 loader has a rated operating capacity of 1.61 tonness and a tipping load of 4.6 tonnes. The T770 has a height of 2.07m, a length with bucket of 3.6m, a bucket hinge pin height of 3.4m and a width over the tracks of 1.98m.


The T770 model is equipped with the quick-change Bob-Tach attachment mounting system, allowing it to be combined quickly and safely with over 70 different types of Bobcat attachment, meaning that it is suitable for construction utility work.

Joan Carlos Moda said, “By owning so many Bobcat attachments, we have continuous work for the Bobcat T770 loader, which completes more than 1,000 hours of work all year round thanks to all the combinations with the attachments.”

Another piece of construction equipment helping those who work on utility job sites is the updated PL61, part of a full line of purpose-built Caterpillar pipe layers, which delivers 18.15tonnes of maximum load capacity. The new PL61 was said by the company to offer a faster steering response than its predecessor for superior maneuverability on the pipeline, as well as a more robust fuel system.

Powered by a Cat diesel engine, the PL61 meets US EPA Tier 4 Final, EU Stage IV and Korea Tier 4 emissions standards with emissions reduction technology that is transparent to the operator. A configuration is also available to meet China Non-road Stage III, India Bharat III, Eurasian Economic Union Stage IIIA and UN ECE R96 Stage IIIA emission standards, equivalent to Tier 3 and Stage IIIA.


ECR18E 2

Volvo CE’s ECR18E has an ultra-short tail design

The ECR18E 1.8 tonne compact excavator, with an ultra-short tail design – the shortest radius in the Volvo range – was launched by Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) at Intermat, Paris. The machine, which will be available worldwide from the end of 2018, can retract to less than 1m wide to enter confined areas – or expand to 1.35m.

The cab environment of the ECR18E has fingertip operation, simple layout controls and large travel pedals.

Safety is helped by a standard orange seatbelt and optional sensors that lock the controls, preventing movement if the operator is not sitting firmly on the seat.

Transportation is secure, helped by four tie-down points on the upper frame. Thanks to its light weight, it can be safely transported with up to three buckets and a hydraulic breaker on a compact trailer.

A Hitachi ZX19-5 mini excavator was selected to complete a utilities project in Poland by the contractor FHU Elkop when the company was commissioned to remove old meters and install a new network of electric cables at a holiday camp.

The mini excavator has been designed to provide operator comfort and optimise performance in confined spaces. Safety is also upheld by the redesigned cab, which offers greater all-round visibility. On site, communication between the operator and his co-workers has been made easier due to the design of the front window, which can be fully opened when required.

New model

Elsewhere in the mini excavator segment, JCB has added to its mini excavator range, with the launch of the 1.5 tonne 15C-1, the fourteenth model since the first of the next generation machines was introduced in 2014.


The 1.5-tonne 15C-1 is the fourteenth model since the first of the next generation machines was introduced

The conventional-tailswing mini excavator shares a similar design to previous models, with the same choice of digging equipment as the 16C-1. Both machines are powered by an 11.7kW diesel engine, though the 15C-1 uses a gear pump, while the hydraulic system on the 16C-1 has a variable displacement piston pump.

The 15C-1 uses a shorter fixed undercarriage, with single speed tracking, long pitch tracks and mechanical track tensioners.

The higher specification 16C-1 is a plant hire model, with a variable width undercarriage for additional stability when both digging and lifting.

The machine was said to benefit from short pitch tracks for smoother travel, with grease track tensionsers and twin-speed tracking motors. The 15C-1 has 100% steel bodywork and, where the full ROPS-compliant cab is specified, it has flat glazing all round, for easy replacement.

Despite its compact dimensions, the mini excavator was said to benefit from the next-generation cab already seen on larger models, meaning it has greater internal space than previous machines.

All JCB next-generation mini excavators come with ten tie-down points, positioned on the undercarriage and upperstructure, making it easier to transport the machine without risk of damage to rubber tracks.

View from the trenches

Insight from Peter Stuijt, KCME product manager.

Regarding utility work, what are Kobelco’s most popular mini excavators?

-® Marina Kemp - mySK55SRX 04

The Kobelco SK55SRX-6

Currently, Kobelco’s most popular mini excavator segments are the one- to two-ton (0.9- to 1.8-tonne) class with the SK17SR-3 and SK10SR-2 being the most popular models. This is followed by the two- to three-ton (1.8- to 2.7-tonne) class with the SK28SR-6 being the most popular model.

Regarding utility work, what are the main benefits of using mini excavators?

The main benefits of choosing a mini excavator are for their compact size coupled with excellent productivity – while still promoting very modest fuel consumption. For example, the SK17SR-3 is a compact but very sophisticated machine – its hydraulic system is smooth and it is available with either canopy or cabin. Excellent operator comfort is also a key benefit, as operators can be in the machines for many hours.

What advancements have been made to mini-excavators to make them more suited to utility work?

Kobelco’s mini excavators, from SK28SR-6, are equipped with iNDr (Innovative Noise and Dust Reduction) technology, which makes them very suited to work in urban areas where we need to be more careful of noise.

Other improvements include fine-tuning the hydraulic system for lower fuel consumption, one-touch deceleration was introduced to reduce fuel consumption and noise, and, depending on the model, Kobelco offers extended auxiliary hydraulic piping so that our end users can use their attachments, such as rotating grapples. Finally, an accumulator has become part of the configuration, allowing the end user to easy connect and disconnect attachments.

Exhaust emissions will become increasingly important as mini excavators will also have to comply with Stage V of the NRMM (Non-Road Mobile Machinery) regulations from 2019 onwards.


Delivered directly to your inbox World Construction Week features the pick of the breaking news stories, product launches, show reports and more!

Sign up for free


Delivered directly to your inbox World Construction Week features the pick of the breaking news stories, product launches, show reports and more!

Go to newsletters