5 Things to Consider When Buying a New Excavator

Updated: Jul 23, 2020

Here are the most important factors you should consider when buying a new excavator - and the right attachments - for your next job.

Excavators have been, and continue to be, one of the most important and sought-after machines in the construction industry. No matter the site or project, it is crucial to have a powerful excavator that can get the job done and be ready to go the next time you need it. Obvious as it may be, not all excavators are the same. Likewise, not all sites and projects are the same. While you can’t necessarily consider future site needs, it’s important to understand what excavators perform best for the work you are and will be doing. With all this in mind, here are the most important factors you should consider when buying a new excavator.

1. Excavation needs

What do you specifically need from an excavator? This question may seem open-ended, but it is exactly the question you need to ask yourself when buying a new excavator. There are several different things to consider when evaluating your needs from an excavator:

  • Knowing the spec requirements for the job.

  • Determining if the excavator is needed for minimal or heavy use. Over usage of an excavator not designed to withstand that amount of work can lead to excavator damage or premature required maintenance.

  • Understanding the jobsite and the difficulties that may arise from it.

  • Considering what attachments you may need. Popular and versatile options include couplers, rippers, buckets and hammers.

These are all important factors when comparing excavator makes and models. Failure to take the above into consideration could result in excavator damage, poor performance, poor job efficiency and more.

2. Size

When it comes to excavators, bigger doesn’t always mean better. Understanding what size excavator you need, whether it be compact, standard or large, will be valuable to you and your operating staff. Purchasing an excavator that is too small will result in performance issues as compact excavators do not have the digging power or depth needed in jobs that require large excavators.

On the contrary, purchasing an excavator that is too large is considered overkill in every sense of the word. The amount of investment that goes into a large excavator, whether it be the machine itself, maintenance or means of transportation is substantial and should be carefully considered at every turn.

Fortunately for buyers, there are many different configurations available within each size

category, so it should not be a problem to narrow down your sizing needs.

3. Attachments

Equipping your excavator with attachments is a great way to get more mileage out of one machine. Without the right attachments for the job, your excavator will prove to be a rather useless. Choosing the right excavator means knowing what attachments you need and figuring out what excavator is compatible with those attachments and can use them to their full potential. Below are some attachments you should consider when buying a new excavator.

  • Hammers. When it comes to demolition, hammers are the best excavator attachment for the job. Knowing what kind of excavators work best with the hammer attachment you need will prove to be useful and valuable.

  • Buckets. Digging, removing, cleaning; these are just three of the several practical and common uses for a bucket attachment on an excavator. It is one of the most versatile attachments for your machine and should be considered when evaluating attachment needs.

  • Rippers. If you will be breaking up hard soil, ice or anything in between, a ripper should be in your arsenal. Finding an excavator that is compatible with a certain ripper and powerful enough to do the job is an important consideration to make.

  • Couplers. Most important of all, couplers allow your operators to efficiently switch between attachments without the help of a crew. If you are planning on having multiple attachments for your excavator, a coupler is a must have.

4. Operator comfort

While it might seem self-explanatory, operator comfort is a highly important factor to consider when buying a new excavator. If your operator is inside of a cab for hours on end every day, their comfort should be a priority. If operators find the cab uncomfortable or lacking an ergonomic chair and controls, their productivity will plummet.

On the contrary, a comfortable cab area will boost operator efficiency and keep them satisfied in return. A slightly more expensive excavator that comes with high-end cab comfort is a responsible and almost necessary purchase and the ROI will show. Here are some of the features that you should require in a new excavator:

  • Ergonomic chair. Just like an office chair, the operator will be sitting in this chair for several hours per day. An ergonomic chair means more comfort for the operator and a higher motivation to stay productive throughout the day.

  • Adjustable seats. Assuming that multiple operators will be controlling your excavator, it is important that each one can be comfortably positioned to their liking.

  • Easily accessible controls. Just like the above two; if an operator is constantly struggling to access and utilize the controls in the cab, frustration will be up and motivation will be down.

  • Heating and air conditioning system. In relation to the rest of these features, this feature has to do with operator safety more than the others. In extreme hot or cold conditions, a heating and air conditioning system will not only provide for operator comfort but operator safety as well, as it will keep the cab at a comfortable and safe temperature.

  • Excess room. The more room a cab has, the more comfortable and less confined the operator will feel. There’s no need to go overboard with this feature, though. Operators know the space issues they may face in a cab of an excavator before climbing in.

5. Tracks and undercarriage

Last and certainly not least, an excavator’s tracks and undercarriage are key factors you’ll have to consider when shopping for your new excavator. Large and durable undercarriages will often withstand the test of time, but that isn’t the only type of undercarriage you should have on your wish list. Finding an undercarriage that is also easily maintained and cleaned should be a priority as well.

Tracks on an excavator vary depending on the size and intended uses and you should consider these varying conditions when finding the perfect tracks for your excavator. It’s typical for smaller excavators to be equipped with rubber tracks, as those work well for the conditions that small excavators usually find themselves in. However, rubber tracks wear out more quickly than steel, so you might want to consider upgrading to steel tracks if that is a concern.

On the other hand, standard and larger excavators often come with steel tracks. When it comes to steel tracks, it’s important to understand the conditions you may have your excavator working in. Communicating these types of applications with your dealer will help determine the size, width and depth that your steel tracks should be.

To reiterate, no two jobs or sites are the same. It won’t be easy to find an excavator that will perfectly suit every job. But, knowing the above five factors and considering them when buying a new excavator will help you find an excavator that perfectly suits you.

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