Minidiggers represent one of our single largest expenses on our hire fleet so it is important that we choose the right machine for our customers. There are a wide range of manufacturers. Well known ones include JCB and Kubota whilst other lesser known makes, to those not involved in the industry, include companies like Takeuchi , Case and Doosan.
So, when we started our search for the right model of minidigger for our hire fleet we first had to decide what was important to our customers. We drew up a shortlist of considerations. These included the power of the machine, the dimensions, specification of the cab, zero tail swing, bucket change, bucket types, track speed, control types, operating weight and more. Of course on top of the customer’s needs we also needed to look at cost, re sale value, reliability, parts and service back up and availability.
Having spoken to many of our professional hirers it was clear that two main brands were favoured by those who regularly hire minidiggers. These were Kubota and Takeuchi. Surprisingly JCB was not so popular. After speaking to a number of people in the know it appears that the JCB minidiggers suffer from poor reliability. This is reflected in their resale value with even fairly low hour machines fetching well below the going rate. So the JCB was struck off our list.
So we then started a comparison of the Takeuchi and Kubota offerings. The Kubota models in the 1.5t range include the U17-3a and the KX-016 whilst the Takeuchi offering is the TB-016. The pricing of these two machines is similar as are the rest of the specs. There really is not a huge amount to separate these minidiggers. So we needed to think about reliability and re sale value. The operator comfort and user experience is really not going to vary much between the two machines. Maybe a full time operator who is clocking up hundreds of hours will be able to pick holes in both machines but as a hire company we are serving customers who are hiring a minidigger for a one off job or slightly more regular jobs if a professional end user.
The Kubota U17-3a does have one benefit that we really like. This is the zero tail swing feature. We talked about this in another blog, but basically it means that, as long as the tracks are expanded, the machine can be rotated and the back will not hit anything, as it turns within the width of the tracks. This will help us keep hire damage repairs down and help our hire customer avoid costly bills. However the downside of this feature is that if the tracks are not expanded the tail will hit things. If the operator has got used to the zero tail swing and then forgets about the tracks been retracted they are going to get a surprise.
The TB-016 carried a bit more weight, which can be handy, although as a hire company we need to consider delivery vehicle weights. We do run a 3.5t trailer so the heavier machine is not a problem for us as long as we don’t carry too much in the van at the same time.
Both the Takeuchi and Kubota machines are available with a full cab or just a roll frame. The benefit of a full cab is operator comfort. Certainly one of our regular hirers said he prefers to have a full cab. However we also need to consider likely chance of damage to the glass, especially with some of our less experienced end users.
Both these machines hold their value well in the second hand market and there is a good demand for them.
There does appear to be one major consideration for us. This is the pin and bush set up. The Takeuchi boom is not bushed. This means that as the boom wears it will eventually need to be reamed and bushed. This would be a costly job and not one we can do in house. On the other hand, as long as we are vigilant with our maintenance, we can simply knock the worn bushes out of the Kubota machines and replace them for a few quid. This offers a much more practical solution for us. It is likely come down to this factor alone that has swayed our decision on which type of machine to run. After much deliberation the minidigger we have chosen for our hire fleet is the Kubota U17-3a. It offers the benefit of the zero tails swing as well as easier maintenance and the Kubota engine has a good track record.
As far as our customers are concerned however, you can be sure that you are hiring a quality minidigger delivered to your job at a competitive hire rate, when you want it.
If you need to hire a minidigger in Swindon or Wiltshire then give us a call. We offer very competitive rates and first class customer service.