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Excavators With Fast Cycle Times Deliver Best Results

Wed March 15, 2000 - Northeast Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

The compact excavators’ ability to do offset digging, and to quickly maneuver and reposition sets these versatile machines apart from larger excavators and tractor-loader-backhoes. The Bobcat Company, a unit of the Ingersoll-Rand Company, has been manufacturing compact hydraulic excavators since 1989. Bobcat compact excavators are built to meet and surpass the demanding needs of the market.

Drastically reducing the need to reposition during large excavations, the compact excavator features a 360-degree rotating cab and independent boom swing. The 360-degree house rotation enables operators to dig a square hole the width of the machine without moving the excavator. The independent boom swing allows precision digging around obstacles or alongside structures, while reducing repositioning time.

The compact excavators’ backfill blade stabilizes the machine, allowing the excavator to backfill a trench or level and grade a job site. This vertical-type stabilizer helps level the machine on uneven terrain and permits operators to use the machine in confined areas where swing-out stabilizers can’t be used.

The compact excavators’ tracked undercarriage adds extra benefits to the machine, including eliminating downtime caused by flat tires and extending the work season with its increased flotation. Compact excavators’ rubber tracks minimize damage to hard surfaces while improving traction on hard, slick surfaces.

Buying a Compact Excavator

The compact excavator is growing in popularity as more users discover its significant advantages. Contractors considering a compact excavator addition to their equipment line-up should evaluate the work requirements and the excavator’s performance, cab comfort and value.

If the excavator will be used on one specific kind of application, it is important to choose the machine that will best handle the job. On the other hand, if the excavator will be used in multiple job applications, it is important to select a model that can handle a wider range of assignments. Space limitations also should be considered when choosing a compact excavator. For instance, gates, alleys and low ceilings can limit the range of appropriate excavators.

Contractors should look for a model that fits their unique job site requirements. For example, the Bobcat 322 compact excavator features an expandable undercarriage that retracts to allow access through narrow excavation site entryways and, once through, it expands. When retracted, the Bobcat 322 measures just 99 centimeters (39 in.) wide, allowing passage through narrow gates, doorways and trenches. When the 322 excavator reaches the excavation site, the hydraulically controlled undercarriage expands to 135 centimeters (53 in.), providing better side digging and lifting performance than traditional compact excavators.

A compact excavator’s productivity is determined by two factors: power (breakout force) and speed (cycle time). The higher the breakout force for the bucket and dipper, the easier and faster the digging. Depending on the model, the bucket breakout force of Bobcat compact excavators, ranges from 1,542 to 4,203 kilograms (3,400 to 9,265 lbs.) — among the highest of all compact excavators. Cycle time is the time it takes for the excavator to fill its bucket with dirt, swing to dump it, swing back and “cut” the next load. Bobcat compact excavators feature a multi-function hydraulic system that creates the fastest cycle times in their class.

For maximum digging productivity, an excavator should be used to dig no deeper than half to three-quarters of its maximum digging depth. On the other hand, if the compact excavator will be used only at a quarter of the machine’s maximum digging depth, buyers should consider a machine with a shorter digging depth to avoid paying for capabilities they don’t use.

Pilot-assisted joystick controls and a suspension seat are standard on Bobcat compact excavators and significantly enhance the operator’s comfort. An optional enclosed heated cab protects operators from weather conditions.

Increase Versatility with

Compact Excavator


Bobcat’s growing line of compact excavator attachments expands the machine’s versatility and, as a result, operators are finding more ways to utilize the compact excavator. In addition to the traditional excavating work, the attachment line equips Bobcat excavators for backfilling, finish grading, landscaping, moving bulk materials, drilling and scarifying. Bobcat’s excavator attachments include the auger, breaker, grading buckets, trenching buckets, clamp, grapple, plate compactor and ripper.

The Bobcat X-Change mounting system makes it easier for compact excavator operators to change attachments. In fact, with the X-Change system one person can quickly and easily make attachment changes. Unlike other hydraulic couplers, the X-Change system is wear-compensating and operators won’t experience any loss of breakout force. The system is standard on the Bobcat 325, 328, 331, 334, 337 and 341 compact excavator models.

• Auger — The no-lube Bobcat auger fits both Bobcat excavators and skid-steer loaders. It drills holes for posts, poles and piers. Operators can choose from two different models, 30 different bits and three different styles to accommodate work in sand and clay, asphalt and fracturable rock. The auger works on the Bobcat 325, 328, 331, 331E, 334, 337 and 341 compact excavators.

• Breakers — Giving operators 667 to 3,892 N (150 to 875 ft./lbs.) of impact energy, the Bobcat breaker attachments, which include four different hydraulic breakers, fits every Bobcat excavator.

• Grading Buckets — With the smooth-lip Bobcat grading buckets, operators are able to clean ditches, backfill and grade and still leave a finished surface. Two grading bucket sizes, 99 and 132 centimeters (39 and 52 in.), fit the Bobcat 325, 328, 331, 331 E, 334, 337 and 341 excavators.

• Trenching Buckets — Trenching buckets give operators a choice of widths from 23 to 91 centimeters (9 to 36 in.) to fit every Bobcat excavator. They feature scalloped side plates for better digging and reversible, bolt-on side cutters for longer life.

• Clamp — Operators are able to grasp broken concrete, tree stumps and other odd shaped objects with the Bobcat clamp. The clamp works with or without the Bobcat X-Change mounting system. It is available in two sizes and fits the Bobcat 325, 328, 331, 331E, 334, 337 and 341 excavators.

• Grapple — Handling logs, heavy stones and other bulky material is made easier with the Bobcat grapple. Equipped with the X-Change mounting system, the grapple is available in two sizes and fits the Bobcat 325, 328, 331, 334, 337 and 341 excavators.

• Plate Compactor — Offering operators a quick, efficient way to compact trenches and other excavations, the plate compactor is available in two sizes. The PC-30 model (for Bobcat 331, 331E, 334, 337 and 341 excavators) brings 1,542 kilograms (3,400 lbs.) of centrifugal force to the job site at a frequency of 2,100 vibrations per minute (vpm) and the PC-60 (for Bobcat 337 and 341 excavators) delivers 2,903 kilograms (6,400 lbs.) of centrifugal force and 2,100 vpm. The plate compactor features the Bobcat X-Change mounting system.

• Ripper — If a tooth-bucket can’t handle the job, operators can use the Bobcat ripper to scarify frozen and hard ground. It is equipped for the Bobcat 325, 328, 331, 331E, 334, 337 and 341 excavators and features the Bobcat X-Change mounting system.

Bobcat System Approach

By pairing a skid steer loader with a compact excavator, construction crews create a highly efficient job team. Rapidly growing in popularity, the skid-steer loader and compact excavator team — the system approach — completes more work in less time. Additionally, the system approach offers speed, efficiency, versatility and ease-of-operation and transport.

With the system approach, operators can do two jobs at once for maximum productivity with no wasted time or motion. The ability to hook up dozens of different attachments to both machines greatly expands the system approach workload. Several of the Bobcat attachments, for example, can be used on both machines.

Pilot-assisted hydraulic joystick controls make the excavator almost effortless to operate and, likewise, the skid-steer loader has no gears to shift or steering wheels to turn, just two steering levers. In addition, operators appreciate that the skid-steer loader and compact excavator can often be hauled together.

Growing a Young Business With a Bobcat

The power and versatility of the Bobcat 337 compact excavator has helped many construction crews expand their job services, and increase their business while growing their revenue. For instance, Sam Bottoms, owner of Bottoms Excavating in Collins, CO, handles a variety of jobs with his Bobcat 337. His business specializes in demolition, grading, utility line installation and excavating.

“The 337 is a very productive and powerful machine,” Bottoms said. “I use it on about 70 percent of my jobs.”

Featuring a 34-kilowatt (46 hp) liquid-cooled diesel engine, the 337 can exert 4,203 kilograms (9,265 lbs.) of bucket breakout force — giving Bottoms the opportunity to take on bigger projects. And equipping his machine with Bobcat attachments expands his workload abilities. Bottoms uses the Bobcat X-Change attachment mounting system to efficiently change from any one of his Bobcat buckets to a Bobcat clamp.

“I have three different buckets and usually change them a couple of times a day,” he said. “No system is faster and easier. Changing attachments is a snap.”

In adding the clamp to his attachment inventory, Bottoms was able to further expand his services. The hydraulic clamp enables him to handle broken concrete, and jagged and odd-shaped objects.

Bottoms states that the Bobcat 337 is the ideal excavator for his three-year-old business. With the 337, he is able to keep his inventory under control and still take on big projects that require a powerful machine.

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