Equipment Type

Reduced-Tail-Swing Crawler Excavators Fully Embraced

With the highly-maneuverable earthmoving products now being offered by all leading construction equipment brands, the place of reduced-tail-swing or compact-tail-swing excavators as full-fledged members of the crawler excavator product family is no more firmly established than in the class of machines weighing 40,000 to 60,000 pounds.

March 01, 2008

While the boom foot of the Case CX225SR is positioned close to the swing axis for a reduced swing radius of the front, the counterweight is shortened to within inches of the outside track edge. The resulting tighter work envelope in comparison to standard-configured excavatorsis ideal for single-lane highway work.

The 321D LCR is a "true-compact-radius" excavator that, along with the reduced-radius 320D LRR, provides Caterpillar customers with a choice of 20-metric-ton-plus machines for space-constrained applications.

Liebherr's first compact-swing excavator,the 924C Compact features a full-sized cab, ground-level maintenance access, and standard semi-automatic centralized lubrication triggered from the comfortof the operator's seat.



The one-size-fits-all approach is about as far removed from the general excavator market today as the use of cables.

As hydraulic excavators inch up in size, new models are added to fill in any gaps created in a particular company's product line. Indeed, one size does not fit all.

Neither does one shape anymore.

The establishment of reduced-tail-swing or compact-tail-swing machines as members of the crawler-excavator product family is no more evident than in the class of machines weighing 40,000 to 60,000 pounds. One leading manufacturer even offers two slimmer-bodied models in essentially the same size; another goes so far as to describe the market for reduced-tail-swing machines in this range as being "mature."

The ability to swing a machine and not have the counterweight extend into an additional lane of traffic or bang into a tree is an equipment trait North American construction equipment users are increasingly cognizant of when considering their product choices. To that end, says Caterpillar's Kent Pellegrini, his company offers both the reduced-radius 320D LRR and "true-compact-radius" 321D LCR in the 52,000- to 54,000-pound range, beyond the standard 320D L, which runs up from about 47,500 pounds.

"Our normal 320 working in a single lane will have a counterweight that extends over," says Pellegrini, Caterpillar excavator industry manager. "With the 320D LRR, we have reduced that counterweight down to where we can load pipe, we can load a truck, without closing down two lanes of traffic.

"No one wants to shut down traffic for 10 months. If you can reduce that by having a machine with a reduced tail swing that lets them work in a range where they can work efficiently and get the job done, and not cause a lot of problems to the public, it makes life a lot easier. It just makes the job go smoother."

Also among the established providers of a short-radius machine in the 40,000- to 60,000-pound class is Case, which has offered its largest minimum-swing-radius machine, the 53,000-pound CX225SR, for the past five-plus years. Retail sales for it and the smaller CX135SR are reflecting increased popularity of short-radius machines among medium-sized excavator users, says Dave Wolf, marketing manager.

"The convenience of not having to worry about that back side sure makes a big difference," says Wolf. "They can work in a lot more confined spaces."

A new player in the compact swing machine market in North America is Liebherr, which introduced the 924C Compact at the World of Concrete show in 2007. The appeal for this configuration is here to stay, because "more or less wherever you can drive the thing into, you can work there," says Bret Jacobson, Liebherr product specialist. "You can work on a road and only take up one lane; you can work in the woods and cut a narrower swath."

Thanks to concerted demo and marketing efforts, says Wolf, any skepticism about machine instability and weaker performance has lessened, if not dissipated.

"We had to get through all that," he says, "because there was a concern where people were thinking, 'Hey, this machine doesn't lift as much, or it won't perform as well.'

"I think once you get customers in those machines, they find out right away that they do have the performance."

The Case CX225SR boasts a lift capacity of 15,000-plus pounds — or still more than the standard-configured CX210B, which, although smaller, does benefit from the double-digit production and fuel-efficiency enhancements of the CX B Series introduction at World of Concrete 2007. The CX225SR has a scheduled engine tier change in the first quarter this year; a machine series upgrade will follow, probably next year.

Here to stay

For John Deere and Hitachi, from whom North American excavator introductions are in lock step, the reduced-tail-swing machines are "definitely a significant part" of the alliance's excavator offering.

"We've had a lot of growth in this area," says Trevor Pool, engineering supervisor for excavators, based at Deere's Dubuque Works, "and it seems like, at this point, it's really become a mature market for us."

The latest generation of the established machines, the Hitachi Zaxis 225USLC-3 and corresponding Deere 225D LC, hit market in mid-2007. Partnering with Hitachi "absolutely" provides Deere an access to legacy and experience in this product area. With the exception of machine fronts from the plant in Kernersville, N.C., the Deere and Hitachi excavators are manufactured in Asia.

"Hitachi obviously has its excavators in Japan, where space is at a premium. I actually just came back from four years over there with Hitachi, and space is definitely at a premium," Pool says with a laugh. "They have definitely tailored these machines to work in those tight areas and have the distinct experience at it. They offer a significant number of additional models over in Japan, and we have picked up the ones that fit our market the best."

In the case of Liebherr, the one and only compact-swing excavator offered in North America, the 924C Compact was introduced in Europe only about a year before its 2007 rollout at World of Concrete.

"That machine was designed completely from scratch as a compact-swing excavator. It wasn't a modification of a standard machine," says Jacobson. "To do that obviously takes longer in design and prototyping than trying to chop five feet off the back of an existing product.

"We actually did something else that a lot of the other machines don't have: We have a full-sized cab on there, which in America was important for us to have . . . that we didn't have some little shrunken-down cab that we would fit on there."

At Deere/Hitachi, "the cab on a 225 is slightly smaller overall" than a standard-configured excavator, says Pool. "However, what we've done is try to maintain the space that the operator actually uses — keep that the same. All of the D-Series and the Zaxis Dash-3 machines have those shorter pilot levers. You're not going to see a difference in the feel in the operations."

A 47-percent increase in window area for the new-generation Deere and Hitachi excavators extends to the reduced-tail-swing machines, says Pool.

While the reduced-tail-swing excavators are in the 40,000- to 60,000-pound weight class to stay, it seems the move upward won't stop there.

"For this specific model, we might see a little more growth, but it's been out there for a number of years now," says Pool at Deere/Hitachi. "The model mix between say, a standard 200 and a reduced-tail-swing 225, we don't anticipate that changing much.

"We do see a demand for this type of machine in other size classes."

At Liebherr, "there's more to come" beyond the 924C Compact, but not in the immediate future, says Jacobson.

"There's growth," says Case's Wolf, "and there seems to be more demand even to try to get it in bigger sizes."

Beyond the 321D LCR, Caterpillar already offers the 72,500-pound 328D LCR and, points out Pellegrini, product development in this area is not a matter of shape or size, but rather what customers need.

"It all depends on the job they want to get done," he says. "It's all job-driven: 'Can that machine pick up that pipe and place it on the trailer, without overhanging into the second lane?'

"They're faced with issues on a dailybasis. We're providing a solution to fix the problem."

The Cost of Ownership
Weight (lb.)* List Price Hourly Rate**
* Operating weights are converted into pounds from metric-ton ranges.
** Hourly rate is the monthly ownership costs divided by 176, plusoperating costs. Unit rates used are diesel fuel at $3.38 per gallon, mechanic's wage at $44.79 per hour, and money costs at 4.75 percent.
Source: EquipmentWatch.com, phone 800/669-3282
35,274–41,888 $159,620 $70.25
41,889–46,297 $209,802 $82.30
46,298–52,911 $216,041 $85.74
52,912–61,729 $253,871 $99.61

Crawler-Excavator Specifications (40,000 to 60,000 pounds)
Model Operating Weight (lb.) Arm Length Dig Depth Lift Capacity (lb.)* Net Engine Output (hp) Tail-Swing Radius
* Lift over the end, at a 20-foot radius, at ground level.
Source: Spec-Check.com Xpanded Specs (as of January / 08)
Hyundai R180LC-7A 40,120 8′6″ 19′11″ 10,980 116 8′4″
Hyundai R160LCD-7 40,570 8′6.4″ 19′11″ 10,980 116 8′3.6″
Gradall XL4200 II 42,050 n/a 21′9″ 8,095 146 9′0″
Caterpillar 318C LN 42,440 8′10″ 20′10″ 11,870 125 8′4″
Hyundai R180LCD-7A 42,460 8′6″ 19′11″ 10,980 116 8′4″
Caterpillar 318C L 43,320 10′6″ 22′6″ 12,140 125 8′4″
Komatsu PC200-8 43,540 9′7″ 21′9″ 11,400 148 9′0.3″
Kobelco ED190 Blade Runner 43,700 10′2″ 21′5″ 10,880 112 8′2″
Link-Belt 210LX 44,800 9′10″ 22′0″ 13,330 138 8′11″
Liebherr R904C 46,704 10′6″ 22′8″ 13,004 135 8′1″
Hitachi Zaxis 200LC-3 47,015 9′7″ 21′11″ 14,248 159 9′0″
Case CX210B N 47,200 9′8″ 21′9″ 14,903 157 9′3.4″
Komatsu PC200LC-8 47,260 9′7″ 21′9″ 14,350 148 9′0.3″
Doosan DX225LC 47,399 9′6″ 21′9″ 15,160 148 9′0.3″
Terex TXC 225LC-2 47,400 9′6″ 21′9″ 15,160 148 9′0″
Case CX210B 47,400 9′8″ 21′10″ 14,500 157 9′0.3″
Link-Belt 210 X2 47,400 9′8″ 21′10″ 14,500 157 8′11.1″
Caterpillar 320D L 47,554 9′7″ 22′1″ 14,700 148 9′0″
Kobelco SK210LC Acera Mark 8 47,800 9′8″ 22′0″ 14,940 150 9′0″
New Holland E215B 47,800 9′8″ 22′0″ 14,940 150 9′0″
Hyundai R210LC-7A 47,840 9′7″ 22′1″ 13,360 143 9′3.4″
Caterpillar 320D L Mass Boom 47,989 7′10″ 19′4″ 14,150 148 9′0″
Kobelco 200SRLC 48,500 9′10″ 21′6″ 12,190 123 5′6″
John Deere 200D LC Super Long Front 48,502 20′9″ 39′4″ 11,260 159 9′0″
Volvo EC210C L 48,520 9′6″ 22′1″ 16,090 147 9′2.2″
JCB JS220 Long Reach 49,187 21′0″ 39′4″ 13,206 138 9′3″
JCB JS220 LC Tier III 49,470 9′10″ 21′8″ 17,725 172 9′3.2″
John Deere 200D LC 49,940 9′7″ 21′11″ 14,248 159 9′0″
Komatsu PC228USLC-3 50,490 9′7″ 21′9″ 13,700 148 5′6″
Case CX210B LR 50,660 21′0″ 39′5″ 11,565 157 9′0″
Kobelco SK210LC Long Reach 50,700 20′10″ 39′5″ 12,330 148 9′0″
Link-Belt 210 X2 Long Front 50,710 21′0″ 39′5″ 11,550 157 8′11″
Volvo EC210C LR 51,200 20′6″ 39′8″ n/a 147 9′2.2″
Link-Belt 225 MSR Spin Ace 51,376 9′10″ 20′0″ 14,450 138 5′6″
Caterpillar 320D LRR 52,249 9′7″ 22′1″ 15,650 148 6′7″
Caterpillar 320D L Super Long Reach 52,606 20′7″ 38′6″ 11,900 148 9′0″
Link-Belt 240LX 52,700 10′2″ 22′10″ 15,710 162 9′6″
Case CX225SR 53,223 9′10″ 22′0″ 15,169 153 5′8″
Caterpillar 321D LCR 53,308 9′7″ 22′0″ 15,200 148 5′6″
Gradall XL5200 53,860 n/a 26′1″ 9,795 163 10′0″
John Deere 225D LC 53,936 9′7″ 22′0″ 15,484 159 5′6″
Hitachi Zaxis 225US LC-3 53,936 9′7″ 22′0″ 15,484 159 5′6″
Hyundai R210LC-7 Long Reach 54,000 20′8″ 38′7″ 9,550 143 9′3.4″
Liebherr R924 Compact 54,013 9′8″ 22′4″ 15,653 164 5′7″
Liebherr R914C 54,035 9′10″ 22′4″ 16,534 157 9′2″
Terex TXC 255LC-2 54,200 9′10″ 22′4″ 18,780 162 9′10″
Doosan DX255LC 54,233 9′10″ 22′4″ 18,780 166 9′10″
John Deere 240D LC 54,434 9′9″ 22′5″ 17,721 177 9′7.8″
Hitachi Zaxis 240LC-3 54,434 9′9″ 22′5″ 17,721 177 9′7.8″
Caterpillar 324D L 54,660 9′8″ 22′6″ 18,750 188 9′10″
Link-Belt 240 X2 54,895 9′10″ 22′8″ 18,350 177 9′7.7″
Komatsu PC220LC-8 54,926 10′0″ 22′8″ 18,050 168 9′7.8″
Case CX240B 55,120 9′10″ 22′7″ 18,350 177 9′8″
Kobelco SK250LC-DA 55,400 9′9″ 23′1″ 19,180 176 9′9″
Hyundai R250LC-7A 55,600 10′0″ 23′0″ 17,660 163 9′8.7″
Volvo EC240C L 57,110 9′9″ 22′11″ 20,540 168 9′8.5″
John Deere 240D LC Super Long Front 57,320 25′10″ 47′1″ 11,640 177 9′8″
Kobelco SK260LC Acera Mark 8 57,320 9′9″ 23′0″ 19,120 181 9′9″
JCB JS260 LC 57,450 8′0″ 20′2″ 19,246 160 9′10″
Caterpillar 324D L Mass Boom 57,871 8′2″ 21′3″ 17,850 188 9′10″
Link-Belt 240LX Long Front 58,900 26′3″ 48′0″ 12,140 162 9′6″
Liebherr R924C 59,591 9′10″ 23′0″ 19,621 177 9′8″
JCB JS260 Long Reach 59,648 26′1″ 50′7″ 10,040 160 9′10″
Kobelco SK250LC Long Reach 59,966 27′1″ 48′6″ 11,810 176 9′9″

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