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Mini Excavators

As the name suggests, this is a smaller version of the excavator which can be found at all types of construction and demolition sites. It is a compact excavator that can be tracked or wheeled and usually weighs less than one ton. It features a standard backfill blade along with a boom swing. While the appearance is similar to standard excavators, there is an important functional difference as the work of the vehicle is done through the transfer of hydraulic fluid. This transfer allows the vehicle to be smaller in nature so it can perform tasks that its larger counterpart cannot do.


While excavators have been around for several decades, the mini excavator was not first developed until Yanmar designed one in 1968 for the Japanese market. In 1971, Takeuchi started the first, full-scale manufacturing of mini excavators which became quite popular in Japan and Europe. It was not until the early 1980s that mini excavators made their way to the US and Canada.

Bobcat, a US firm that was most noted for their skid steel loader, started manufacturing more compact machines which included the mini excavator. The vehicle caught on and other companies started to make the mini excavator which proved to be a powerful success.


Put simply, the mini excavator functions much like its larger counterpart. It has a chassis, boom extension, and cab where the operator sits. The boom has a large bucket attachment that is used to dig, move, or shift materials such as dirt, rubble, debris and the like.

Because it operates by shifting hydraulic fluid, the engine itself is smaller and thus the machine more compact. This makes it perfect for jobs such as street repair, digging small trenches, and similar tasks. Some mini excavator models have a backfill blade attached to the front of the chassis so that it can help push the materials into the bucket.

Major Brands

There are several major brands with Bobcat still being one of the biggest manufactures. The relative low complexity of the vehicle combined with the high demand has led to many other manufacturers to build this vehicle, including Caterpillar, John Deere, CNH Global, JCB, Kobelco, Kubota, Volvo Construction Equipment, and more.


Because the vehicles themselves use a relatively simple hydraulic system for operation, they can last for a long time when properly used. However, just like excavators the boom is subject to breakdown because of the weight that it must carry when in operation. Plus, they are often pressed into service that may exceed their specifications. Small street repair work can quickly elevate into larger, more pressing jobs that strain the unit which creates a shorter lifespan.

Need for Spare Parts

The need that mini excavators have for spare parts is arguably less than the larger versions, but they are still needed to maintain the hydraulics, tracks, boom, and bucket operation. Many companies will often go to online retail stores that specialize in providing spare parts for this vehicle. This is because of the lower prices and availability