Tight working areas are the order of the day in Mburg Mini Plant’s line of work, and to prevail over space-constrained jobsites, the Western Cape-based company recently took delivery of a 3 t Kubota U30-6 mini-excavator from Smith Power Equipment (SPE), South African importers and distributors of leading global specialist machinery, turf maintenance equipment and off-road vehicles.
Mburg Mini Plant is a Cape Town-based, family-owned contractor that specialises in earthmoving, trenching, rock breaking and hole-drilling jobs, but its area of speciality is in space-constrained jobsites where big machines are often out of question. When recently faced with a decision to expand their mini-excavator fleet, owners Stephen Ebing and his son Jason, unanimously decided to purchase a 3 t Kubota U30-6 mini-excavator from Smith Power Equipment, the authorised distributor of the Kubota range of compact excavators in South Africa, through its Strand-based dealer, Kubota Western Cape.
Apart from Kubota’s track-record and build quality, a major feature behind Mburg Mini Plant’s buying decision was the Kubota U30-6’s compact size, which allows it to work in very tight spaces, but still offering high power performance to execute a range of jobs that normally call for larger conventional machines. Powered by a Kubota D1703-M-E3-BH-11 engine delivering 20,5 kW @ 2 200 rpm, the U30-6 punches above its weight with an impressive bucket breakout force of 30 kN, representing a whopping 113% increase compared with the previous model.
The compact size of the machine was a key prerequisite. With an overall length of only 4 530mm, overall height of 2 455mm and 1 550mm width, the U30-6 fits the bill for Mburg Mini Plant’s space-restricted line of work, and the ability to fit onto a standard trailer makes it easy to move the machine from site to site.
“With Kubota’s boom-swing technology, the machine allows for direct digging operation close to walls or buildings without the need to reposition it. Combined with Kubota’s zero tail swing function, which always keeps the tail of the excavator within track-width when swivelling, the machine is very suitable for operation in typical tight places we work in,” says Ebing.
The new unit was purchased specifically to work across a range of applications, including trenching, concrete demolition, grading and drilling. Consequently, versatility was right up on Ebing’s checklist as the machine had to offer greater flexibility to work with a range of attachments to execute the raft of duties at hand. “The U30-6 made the cut with its ability to handle all of our job requirements, considering that the machine combines superior power and outstanding versatility to tackle demanding jobs in a variety of conditions,” says Ebing.
When working with one-way hydraulic attachments, such as a breaker, the standard third-line hydraulic return system allows oil to flow directly back to the tank without running through the control valves. This contributes to less oil contamination, reduced back pressure and greater oil flow efficiency. According to Tom Bloom, general manager for Construction at SPE, the machine also comes with additional service ports for attaching hydraulic attachments to the excavator, further increasing versatility.
With fuel savings in mind, the Auto Idling system was another key attraction for Mburg Mini Plant. Idling time is one of the biggest wastes of fuel when it comes to construction equipment. Operators rev machines when they shouldn’t and let them idle when they could be shut off. With Kubota’s Auto Idling System, this is a non-issue. “When control levers are in neutral for more than four seconds, the engine automatically switches to idling mode. When the operator moves any control lever, engine rpm automatically returns. While this feature translates into reduced noise and emissions, especially in sensitive urban sites, a fuel saving of up to 10% is achievable,” says Bloom.
Mburg Mini Plant’s business is uptime-driven, and aftermarket support is always a crucial consideration when purchasing its tools of trade. “SPE and Kubota Western Cape have been supportive all the way and we have had no issues to date,” says Ebing. With its footprint of about 80 sub-dealers countrywide, SPE is well represented in all the major economic hubs of South Africa.
SPE now has over 100 Kubota compact excavators operating in the field. Bloom highlights that the local supplier has seen increased uptake of this gear since launching the first units in the local market in 2014. The supplier managed to double its sales in 2015, and even achieved significant sales growth in 2016 despite the challenging economic conditions on the back of a drought-hit agricultural sector, a construction industry that didn’t see the best of times and a mining sector in dire straits due to lower commodity prices.
“We have seen a strong interest in our Kubota mini-excavators. The U30 has been the popular choice, especially in the small plant hire, construction and agriculture sectors,” says Bloom. “In challenging economic conditions, cost-cutting is very important for fleet owners. A compact excavator’s major benefits over most conventional solutions include fuel economy, lower capital outlay, ease of transportation compared with bigger options, as well as versatility. We also see a lot of urban construction going on locally, and often in confined working environments, and this is where the compact excavator excels,” concludes Bloom.