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At ConExpo in Las Vegas, Bobcat has unveiled its R-Series compact excavators, a 13-model lineup that will be launched in two phases during 2017.
The first phase, introduced at ConExpo this week, will include the popular 3-to-4-ton class E32 and E35 models. The machines feature a dual-flange redesigned track system and an optimized rear counterweight. The dual-flange rollers extend the excavator’s undercarriage structure closer to the track’s edge and provide up to a 15-percent increase in over-the-side capacity. Bobcat says this feature improves over-the-side digging performance and slewing ability, in addition to improving ride quality.
Tom Connor, excavator product specialist says in the six years since the company’s previous M-Series compact excavator line was introduced, the compact excavator market has seen a 218-percent increase in North America. “This growth has surpassed that of both skid steers and compact track loaders during the same time period,” Connor says.
Why so much growth? Connor says compact excavators have grown in acceptance as they’ve proven themselves to be a viable piece of equipment. “The perception of compact excavators has completely changed,” he says. “A lot more people are using them in lieu of using a backhoe.” (Bobcat formerly promoted the use of a skid steer/compact excavator “Bobcat System” to replace a backhoe.)
Another reason: the machine’s popularity in rental applications. “Rental has given us proof of product,” Connor says. “It’s a tremendous sales tool.”
The R-Series models have an integrated rear counterweight design that lowers the machine’s center of gravity, aiding machine stability. Operators still have wide-open access to the engine and daily maintenance checks. In addition, hinges and latches have been strengthened, and rigid, aligned excavator panels reduce cab vibration.
The R Series cab has 15 percent more glass and 29 percent more floor space than the M-Series cab, plus an automotive-type HVAC system. The seat and cab are also wider than in the M-Series; and owners can opt to install a heated seat. Cab refinements are important, says Connor. “About 60 percent of our machines are now going out with cabs,” he adds. Redesigned floor pedals fold away, adding increased floor space. The control pattern selector is located right below the operator’s seat, allowing users to quickly switch between ISO and standard controls.
The left side joystick has a second auxiliary selector switch, which allows operators to toggle between the second auxiliary and the boom offset without removing their hand from the joystick.
Bobcat says the new models can be leveled with increased downward angles for a greater range of motion. The excavator blades have been increased up to 33 percent to a 12-degree downward angle. This allows operators to get a precise angle and stabilize the machine while digging, or when operating on an uneven surface or trenching at an angle. (Blade down angle degrees will vary by model.)
A greaseless pin joint on the boom swing eliminates a grease point.