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The Benefits of Mini Compact Excavators

In this blog, we will focus on some of the benefits of mini compact excavators, also known as ‘mini diggers’. Men have long been digging holes, and I for one have been told to ‘stop digging’ on several occasions…

Mini excavators have been around since the late sixties and early seventies. They were initially designed and built as an alternative to manual labour with pickaxes and shovels. Since then, the design of the compact excavator has come a long way with many leading brands such as JCB, Volvo, CAT and Takeuchi taking their share of the market.

A mini compact excavator making light work on site.

Improved Productivity

The compact excavator had indeed solved the problem that the early designers set out to solve; reducing manual labour and improving productivity.

Today, mini diggers are used around the world on building sites, street and road excavations and cemetery excavations. For instance, your local builder might hire one in from a local plant hire company to dig out the footings for a building, or a garden pond in my case! This type of work can now be achieved in a relatively short space of time than it could before.

Better Access Than Large Excavators

The real beauty of a mini digger is its width, which is often narrow enough to fit down the average garden path, offering access to areas where larger excavators simply cannot reach without the removal of walls, fences or other structures.

A standard 1.5-tonne mini digger will usually be around 1 metre in width, enabling access through a typical garden gate. They will normally dig to a depth of 2.5 metres which is often more than ample for the work intended.

Some models even come with retractable tracks. None fixed positioning of the tracks means that at full width the excavator is stable enough to operate and handle, but by retracting the tracks you can gain access through restricted areas such as garden gates and narrow footpaths.

There are also micro-diggers that are no more than 590mm track width. This means they can squeeze through a standard door, offering access to indoor locations. This type of machine is considered a specialist piece of hire equipment.

Readily Available For Hire

Whilst most of us own a spade or a shovel, we simply cannot justify buying a mini digger outright. Fortunately, mini diggers are readily available for hire from local companies including, giving you the choice of everything from single day hires through to longer-term rentals of compact excavators.

If you are looking to hire a mini digger or compact excavator then here are a few tips to help you hire the right equipment:

  • Make sure you check for any width restrictions or access issues enroute to the excavation site
  • Be sure the digger is the right spec to reach the chosen depth you require
  • Does it come with the right size bucket, will you need a straight or toothed bucket, or even a ditching bucket with drain holes?
  • If it’s winter, you may want to choose a machine with a cab option. These often come with a heater which will be most appreciated by the operator. Comfort is everything when operating for longer periods, so be sure to consider this as an option.
  • Will it be delivered by truck or on a trailer? Remember that you will need a safe place to unload away from pedestrians.
  • Are you trained in the use of mini diggers/excavators? Many hire companies will offer training or familiarisation to the intended operator, sometimes at extra cost to the hire, so be sure to factor this into your budget.
  • Are you insured? If not, your local hire company may offer you a damage or total loss waiver scheme. Other than some sensible exclusions, this will indemnify the hirer for damage or loss, usually at a cost of 15 to 20% of the hire. Be aware that you might have to pay any excess but this is usually no more than £500. Always check this with the company you choose to hire from.
  • Check over the machine on delivery, photograph and inform the hire company of any damages on delivery, however minor they might seem to you.
  • Does it come with a full tank of fuel or will you need to fuel it yourself? Remember that you will be charged for any fuel you use where this is provided by the hire company.
One of our mini compact excavators ready for hire.


So there we have some of the main benefits of mini compact excavators. Whatever your project is, using a mini digger will certainly beat the pickaxe and shovel approach!

Remember to take care when operating plant machinery until you are comfortable with all movements and full operation of the machine. Always have a Banksman at hand to watch out for buried cables, drains or relics, and be aware of your surroundings in order to help keep you and others safe.

For further information on mini compact excavator hire, including our own local hire rates, simply give our experts a call on 01977 643 595.

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