'Mid-Sized' Excavator? Depends on Who's Being Asked

By Mike Anderson, Senior Editor | September 28, 2010
Kobelco ED150 Acera Blade Runner Excavator
The sister New Holland and Kobelco brands offer two comparable excavator models each in the 20,000- to 40,000-pound range, but Kobelco offers something additional. Described as “two machines in one,” the Kobelco ED150 Acera Blade Runner matches a dozer-quality blade to a “Large Short Radius” excavator.


In last October's Buying File, Construction Equipment wondered whether an equipment manager in search of a new 16,000-pound crawler excavator is shopping for a “compact” machine. It depends, we concluded, on which construction equipment brand you're looking at, because different manufacturers define in different ways their crawler excavators sized at or just above the official 13,200-pound “mini” threshold. A 16,000-pound tracked excavator could be a compact excavator, or it could be a full-sized excavator, or it could be a “midi.” Caterpillar, for example, places the 17,306-pound 308D into its mini-excavator family.

As we look at the market offering in the 20,000- to 40,000-pound size range this month, the question still doesn't go away. Almost identically sized machines at the lower end of that range may be identified with different labels.

“We currently classify the 311D LRR as a small excavator,” says Tim Lubeck, Caterpillar marketing consultant, general construction. “Caterpillar has four excavator categories that we use for our product line: mini (301.5-308D), small (311D LRR-319D), medium (320D-328D) and large (336D-385D).” Although, Lubeck concedes, some vendors would place the 27,448-pound 311D LRR into the full-size category.

“The easiest way to classify excavators is by operating weight and transportability,” he says. “Minis are small enough to be easily moved on a small trailer behind a pickup or 1- to 2-ton truck. Small excavators require at least a tandem dump truck with a 20-ton tag-a-long trailer or a small 35-ton lowboy trailer, but do not require permits to move. Medium excavators require at least a 50-ton lowboy and a permit, but can still be moved in one piece. Large excavators may require disassembly, and multiple loads and permits to be transported in most states.”

Survey says

As with Caterpillar and the 311D LRR, we surveyed various leading equipment manufacturers to confirm how they would classify specifically the smallest machine they offer in the 20,000- to 40,000-pound range. In some cases, it's purely based on weight; other times, configuration comes into play.

LBX considers machines up to 12 metric tons as mini or compact, those from 12 to 18 metric tons as small, 20 to 35 metric tons as medium, and 40 tons and up as large. The roughly-28,000-pound 130 X2 “would be considered a small, full-size excavator,” says Rob Brittain, product manager, Link-Belt excavators, “as opposed to our 135 which is similar in weight, but is a Minimum Swing Radius excavator.”

At New Holland and Kobelco, brand marketing manager Paul Golevicz was asked about the New Holland E135B and the sister Kobelco 140SR Acera that, while in excess of 30,000 pounds, are the lightest units offered by the brands in the 20,000- to 40,000-pound range. “We actually classify both units as Large Short Radius excavators,” says Golevicz. “The mid-size range is normally referred to as approximately 6 to 12 tons. This allows us to differentiate these units from their smaller Short Radius cousins.”

With John Deere, which also markets the Hitachi brand in North America, Mark Wall refers directly to the established standard when considering the roughly-28,000-pound Deere 120D and the sister Hitachi Zaxis 120-3 models. “They are classified as mid-sized machines,” says Wall, product marketing manager, excavators. “Compacts are usually thought of as anything less than 6 metric tons; mid-size from 6 to 50 metric tons. This has been the industry standard for years.”

Likewise, the nearly-28,000-pound Terex TC125 is considered mid-sized, based on the industry's classifications, says Bill Parker, Terex Construction product manager.

The similar-sized Case CX130B or the recently introduced, slightly heavier, long-carriage CX130B LC model “by industry standards, would be considered a standard-sized excavator,” says Mitch Blake, a member of the Case brand marketing team with responsibility for excavators. The Association of Equipment Manufacturers, Blake notes, classifies excavators from 6 to 11 metric tons as midis and those 11 metric tons and up as standard, but he adds that some manufacturers “distinguish sizes” within the standard classification.

If there's confusion as to which descriptions apply to the 20,000- to 40,000-pound excavators available in the market, remember that size and configuration remain the key differentiating factors, regardless of what the label is. To help, our gallery outlines the offering of 18 different brands in the market.

The Cost of Ownership
Size List Price Hourly Rate*
* Hourly rate represents the monthly ownership costs divided by 176, plus operating cost. Adjusted operating unit prices used in the calculation are diesel fuel at $2.62 per gallon, mechanic's wage at $45.39 per hour, and money costs at 5.125 percent.
Source: EquipmentWatch.com, phone 800/669-3282
8.1 - 11.0 metric tons $99,259 $41.66
11.1 - 12.0 metric tons $124,942 $50.01
12.1 - 14.0 metric tons $144,206 $57.45
14.1 - 16.0 metric tons $145,201 $61.12
16.1 - 19.0 metric tons $161,438 $67.89

Crawler Excavator Specifications (20,000 to 40,000 pounds)
Model Operating Weight (lb.) Arm Length Max. Dig Depth Reach at Ground DumpHeight Net Power (hp)
Source: Spec-Check Xpanded Specs (as of December / 08)
Yanmar SV 100 20,950 n/a 15'3” 23'9” 16'3” 74
Hyundai R110-7A 24,690 7'5” 16'8” 25'0” 18'9” 89
Gehl 1202 25,397 7'10.5” 15'9” 24'8” 19'4” 90
Mustang ME12002 25,397 n/a 15'9” n/a 19'6” 90
Hyundai R110D-7A 26,230 7'5” 16'8” 25'0” 18'9” 89
Hitachi Zaxis 120-3 26,962 8'3” 18'3” 26'11” 20'3” 93
Caterpillar 311D LRR 27,448 8'6” 17'8” 25'11” 18'6” 80
Komatsu PC130-8 27,700 8'2.5” 18'1” 26'10” 20'4” 92
Case CX130B 27,800 8'2.4” 18'2” 26'10” 21'0” 95
LBX Link Belt 130 X2 27,880 8'2.4” 18'2” 26'10” 21'0” 95
John Deere 120D 28,123 8'3” 18'3” 26'11” 20'3” 93
Terex TC125 28,219 7'9” 15'4” 27'2” 17'11” 102
Caterpillar 312D 28,340 8'2.4” 18'2” 26'10” 20'0” 90
Case CX130B LC 28,400 8'2.4” 18'2” 26'10” 21'0” 95
LBX Link-Belt 130 X2 LC 28,440 8'2.4” 18'2” 26'10” 21'0” 95
Volvo EC140C L 28,530 8'2.4” 18'2” 26'10” 19'7” 92
Caterpillar 312D L 29,600 9'2” 19'2” 27'8” 20'4” 90
Case CX135 29,631 7'10” 17'11” 26'6” 22'8” 95
LBX Link-Belt 135 Spin Ace Tier III 29,762 7'10” 17'11” 26'6” 22'8” 95
Hitachi Zaxis 135US-3 30,582 8'3” 18'2” 27'1” 22'3” 93
John Deere 135D 30,582 8'3” 18'2” 27'1” 22'3” 93
Caterpillar 314C LCR 30,700 8'2” 17'11” 26'10” 22'6” 90
Hyundai R140LC-7A 30,820 8'2.4” 18'4” 26'11” 19'11” 105
Doosan DX140LC 30,864 8'2.4” 18'6” 26'9” 20'8” 95
Terex TXC 140LC-2 30,864 8'2” 18'6” 26'9” 20'8” 95
Komatsu PC138USLC-8 31,504 8'2” 18'0” 26'10” 22'5” 92
Takeuchi TB1140 31,878 n/a 18'0” 28'1” 20'5” 83
Kobelco 140SR Acera 32,040 9'4” 19'7” 28'4” 23'4” 94
New Holland E135B 32,040 9'4” 19'7” 28'4” 23'4” 94
JCB JS 145 32,140 8'2” 18'3” 26'11” 22'0” 94
JCB JZ 140 32,291 8'2.4” 18'3” 26'11” 22'0” 98
Hyundai R140LCD-7A 32,630 8'2.4” 18'4” 26'11” 19'11” 105
Kobelco ED150 Acera Blade Runner 35,900 9'4” 19'1” 28'3” 23'10” 94
Komatsu PC160LC-7 Tier 3 36,640 9'6” 20'6” 29'9” 21'5” 115
JCB JS 160 NLC Tier III 37,445 8'10.3” 19'6” 28'7” 22'1” 123
Case CX160B 37,700 8'7” 19'11” 29'1” 21'8” 120
LBX Link-Belt 160 X2 37,700 8'7” 19'11” 29'1” 21'8” 120
Kobelco SK170LC Acera Mark 8 37,800 10'2” 21'5” 30'6” 22'11” 121
New Holland E175B 37,800 10'2” 21'5” 30'6” 22'11” 121
Volvo EC160C L 37,830 8'6” 19'10” 28'11” 20'10” 117
Hitachi Zaxis 160LC-3 37,908 10'2” 21'4” 30'1” 21'0” 121
Caterpillar 315D L 38,036 9'6” 20'11” 29'5” 20'8” 115
JCB JS 160 LC Tier III 38,175 10'0” 20'7” 29'8” 22'2” 123
Hyundai R160LC-7A 38,360 8'6” 19'11” 29'1” 20'6” 116
Doosan DX180LC 38,801 8'6” 20'1” 29'6” 21'4” 118
Terex TXC 180LC-2 38,933 8'6” 20'1” 29'6” 21'4” 118
Gradall XL 3200 III 39,240 n/a 19'2” 27'5” 14'9” 152
Hitachi Zaxis 160LC-3 39,980 10'2” 21'4” 30'1” 21'0” 121
John Deere 160D LC 39,980 10'2” 21'4” 30'1” 21'0” 121

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