Mini excavators make short work of tight spots

Interest in the compact machines are increasing in the recycling, construction and demolition industries.

March 24, 2014
Equipment & Products
Mini excavators have become very popular in construction and demolition (C&D) as well as in the recycling industry due to their performance in tight spaces as well as other features.

The use of mini excavators or compact excavators in the recycling, construction and demolition industries has been steadily increasing. And this is due to their compact size, easy maneuverability and cheaper cost – compared to larger, more pricy backhoe loaders.

Mini excavators are remarkably versatile, particularly in tight spaces and have become very popular in construction and demolition (C&D) as well as in the recycling industry.


High performance mini excavators are great for jobs in confined spaces, such as close to walls, fences, buildings or front yards. They have the power, the capacity and the versatility to be used in a variety of jobs. These compact excavators are great for home owners or sole traders in the building or landscaping industry and are a useful addition to a fleet of larger demolition or recycling excavators used in large commercial jobs. Mini excavators make short work of:

  • digging drainage trenches and building footings;
  • building renovations, excavations and demolition jobs;
  • landscaping; and
  • backfilling and leveling.

These compact excavators are easy to use, you need no special license and are great in urban areas where space is a problem. Use them to dig out the footings and level the base for driveways, dig holes for landscape work or transport soil, mulch or bricks through narrow gateways to the back of buildings. Tear out swimming pools, pathways and driveways, demolish small buildings and retaining walls then move the debris for transport to a landfill or for recycling. Remove falls trees or clear a paddock and transport rocks for constructing retaining walls.

With a reduced or zero tail swing, a mini excavator is like a full size machine compacted into a compact package that has a 360-degree swing and the ability to move on a dime in tight spaces. If you want power and versatility, then a mini excavator is the only choice for the job.


Construction and demolition work create a massive amount of materials which can be safely recycled rather than disposed of as waste products. The building industry accounts for about half of all the solid waste generated worldwide. Recycling of these products not only helps the environment but can also put some hard cash in your pocket. Some of the materials that can be moved by mini excavators and recycled include:

  • Asphalt is potentially 100% recyclable – and is mainly used in the wearing course of pavements but can also be used in the base course and road base layers.
  • Bricks and concrete – mixed masonry or builders rubble. Once crushed these products can be used in low-grade roads and as pavement sub-bases.
  • Metals – the majority of metals recycled from demolition and construction work is steel with the remained being non-ferrous metals, such as aluminum, stainless steel and copper.
  • Hardwood timbers – recycled mainly from demolition works but high-grade hardwoods can fetch as much as $1000/m3.
  • Plastics – the construction industry is one of the key users of plastics in Australia – mainly for packaging, waffle pods and pipes.
  • Plasterboard – even though plasterboard is highly recyclable it is one of the most challenging materials to separate from mixed loads. Many plasterboard manufactures support the recovery of clean products from construction sites.
  • Rock and stone – landfills discourage the dumping of rock and excavated stones from construction sites but as it is a source of cheap aggregate in pavement sub-bases, markets can be found for this material.

There are a number of attachments for mini excavators that can make separating materials for recycling easy and efficient.

Points to ponder when buying or renting a mini excavator

The machine must be a good fit for the job. So you need to know the digging depth and the weight of the mini excavator. A machine that under-sized may be cheaper but might not be up to the job at hand, and a machine that is too big or heavy will use more fuel.

Another point is to make sure that the size of the buckets fit the machine. Fully laden, oversized buckets can result in the machine tipping over whereas undersized buckets make the job less efficient and more costly on time and fuel.

Make sure that the width of the mini excavator can fit through any narrow gates or through-ways on the work site. Mini excavators are popular due to their compactness but you don’t want to end up with one that cannot do the job. And machine width will depend on engine size, so ensure that the mini excavator you select has both engine capacity and the narrow width for your job.

This story was submitted on behalf of Hitachi Construction Machinery Co., Ltd.