Compact Excavator Aids Florida Utility Crew

By Steve Hudson | September 28, 2010

Defuniak Springs, FL, like many communities these days, is constantly faced with maintaining and upgrading its water and sewer system. The city handles much of this work itself.

On one recent project, the city was called on to install 6-inch water line in a neighborhood residential area — a fairly typical project for this northwestern Florida community's Water and Sewer Department.

To complete the work, which was often carried out just yards from residents' homes, the city's crew utilized a Yanmar ViC35 compact excavator to handle the excavation and backfilling required to install new lines.

Kenneth Gavins, water and sewer supervisor for the city, says that the small size and good maneuverability of compact machines is ideal for the kind of projects that his crews are called on to complete. The offset tracks are also a plus in applications such as this, he adds, where it is often necessary to dig off the side of the machine. Offset tracks add stability, and the tracks' rubber pads do not damage driveways or residential streets.

Gavins' crews have also made use of the machine's multiple operating modes. Operators can switch between trackhoe and backhoe modes, allowing them to operate the machine regardless of whether their previous experience.

Currently, the city's Yanmar compact excavator is outfitted with two different buckets — a 12-inch bucket for small line installation and precision digging, plus a larger 24-inch bucket where heavier digging is required. Both buckets were used on this project. The ability to quickly change one bucket for another is also a plus, he says, and he adds that in the future the crew may add a hammer attachment and perhaps a boring system as well.

"We're just a small town," he says, "and we get what we need as we need it, one piece at a time."