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

Sept. 28, 2010

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.
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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 OwnershipSizeList PriceHourly 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 800/669-32828.1 - 11.0 metric tons$99,259$41.6611.1 - 12.0 metric tons$124,942$50.0112.1 - 14.0 metric tons$144,206$57.4514.1 - 16.0 metric tons$145,201$61.1216.1 - 19.0 metric tons$161,438$67.89Crawler Excavator Specifications (20,000 to 40,000 pounds)ModelOperating Weight (lb.)Arm LengthMax. Dig DepthReach at GroundDumpHeightNet Power (hp)Source: Spec-Check Xpanded Specs (as of December / 08)Yanmar SV 10020,950n/a15'3”23'9”16'3”74Hyundai R110-7A24,6907'5”16'8”25'0”18'9”89Gehl 120225,3977'10.5”15'9”24'8”19'4”90Mustang ME1200225,397n/a15'9”n/a19'6”90Hyundai R110D-7A26,2307'5”16'8”25'0”18'9”89Hitachi Zaxis 120-326,9628'3”18'3”26'11”20'3”93Caterpillar 311D LRR27,4488'6”17'8”25'11”18'6”80Komatsu PC130-827,7008'2.5”18'1”26'10”20'4”92Case CX130B27,8008'2.4”18'2”26'10”21'0”95LBX Link Belt 130 X227,8808'2.4”18'2”26'10”21'0”95John Deere 120D28,1238'3”18'3”26'11”20'3”93Terex TC12528,2197'9”15'4”27'2”17'11”102Caterpillar 312D28,3408'2.4”18'2”26'10”20'0”90Case CX130B LC28,4008'2.4”18'2”26'10”21'0”95LBX Link-Belt 130 X2 LC28,4408'2.4”18'2”26'10”21'0”95Volvo EC140C L28,5308'2.4”18'2”26'10”19'7”92Caterpillar 312D L29,6009'2”19'2”27'8”20'4”90Case CX13529,6317'10”17'11”26'6”22'8”95LBX Link-Belt 135 Spin Ace Tier III29,7627'10”17'11”26'6”22'8”95Hitachi Zaxis 135US-330,5828'3”18'2”27'1”22'3”93John Deere 135D30,5828'3”18'2”27'1”22'3”93Caterpillar 314C LCR30,7008'2”17'11”26'10”22'6”90Hyundai R140LC-7A30,8208'2.4”18'4”26'11”19'11”105Doosan DX140LC30,8648'2.4”18'6”26'9”20'8”95Terex TXC 140LC-230,8648'2”18'6”26'9”20'8”95Komatsu PC138USLC-831,5048'2”18'0”26'10”22'5”92Takeuchi TB114031,878n/a18'0”28'1”20'5”83Kobelco 140SR Acera32,0409'4”19'7”28'4”23'4”94New Holland E135B32,0409'4”19'7”28'4”23'4”94JCB JS 14532,1408'2”18'3”26'11”22'0”94JCB JZ 14032,2918'2.4”18'3”26'11”22'0”98Hyundai R140LCD-7A32,6308'2.4”18'4”26'11”19'11”105Kobelco ED150 Acera Blade Runner35,9009'4”19'1”28'3”23'10”94Komatsu PC160LC-7 Tier 336,6409'6”20'6”29'9”21'5”115JCB JS 160 NLC Tier III37,4458'10.3”19'6”28'7”22'1”123Case CX160B37,7008'7”19'11”29'1”21'8”120LBX Link-Belt 160 X237,7008'7”19'11”29'1”21'8”120Kobelco SK170LC Acera Mark 837,80010'2”21'5”30'6”22'11”121New Holland E175B37,80010'2”21'5”30'6”22'11”121Volvo EC160C L37,8308'6”19'10”28'11”20'10”117Hitachi Zaxis 160LC-337,90810'2”21'4”30'1”21'0”121Caterpillar 315D L38,0369'6”20'11”29'5”20'8”115JCB JS 160 LC Tier III38,17510'0”20'7”29'8”22'2”123Hyundai R160LC-7A38,3608'6”19'11”29'1”20'6”116Doosan DX180LC38,8018'6”20'1”29'6”21'4”118Terex TXC 180LC-238,9338'6”20'1”29'6”21'4”118Gradall XL 3200 III39,240n/a19'2”27'5”14'9”152Hitachi Zaxis 160LC-339,98010'2”21'4”30'1”21'0”121John Deere 160D LC39,98010'2”21'4”30'1”21'0”121