Tucked away on a back wall at World of Concrete, Movex Innovation displayed its remote-control, electric Track-O Minidozer – able to enter small, tight spaces where most machines can’t go.
At just over 22 inches high and less than 28 inches wide, the M-27 can fit in the bucket of an excavator and be placed down in a trench for cleaning culverts and other infrastructure – or anything that you might not want to send workers into. (Watch the video at the end of this story to see it in action.)
The company also manufactures an M-48 model that is the same height as the M-27 but 48 inches wide for larger applications.
The Minidozer, which is more like a mini track loader but can be equipped with a blade, has been around for nearly 16 years. At first, its uses were primarily limited to the mining sector. It started as a device to clean out smelters for the aluminum industry. But over time, its uses have been expanding, including to the construction industry.
It’s lately been getting attention from municipalities and their contractors for cleaning out water and stormwater pipes and culverts as well as roadway embankments. The company, which is based in Quebec, Canada, believes the worker shortage and environmental concerns will increase demand for the Minidozer as well as lead to other uses.
“Labor is so hard to find today,” says Movex engineer William Lavoie. “And if I give the choice to a new worker today – you give him a shovel or a scraper or here's a remote control – he's going to pick the remote control every time.”
Because it is battery-powered, it can also be used indoors or other enclosed spaces without emitting dangerous fumes. It’s also quieter than diesel engines. It’s designed for heavy-duty uses, with a steel body and aluminum cabinet.
The Minidozers are sold around the world. About seven years ago, the city of North Las Vegas became Movex’s first municipal customer in the U.S. to use one for cleaning water and drainage infrastructure. Other cities with Minidozers in use include El Paso, Texas, and Scottsdale and Flagstaff, Arizona. It’s also planned for use in Florida for cleaning out above-ground water tanks.
“So the dozer applications are multiplying all over the place,” says Jean-Yves Bacle, Movex sales and marketing director. “Because of a labor shortage, automation, safety – these are the three primary drivers that enhance the demand.”
The Minidozer M-27 can run eight hours from one charge. It takes about 12 hours to charge the battery. Batteries, however, can be swapped out. So if you need more runtime, you can can replace the drained battery with a recharged one and keep going. The larger M-48 Minidozer has a runtime per charge of about eight to 10 hours and takes 14 hours to charge.
The handheld remote controls for the Minidozers are designed to be easy to use. One joystick operates the tracks, and the other controls the bucket and arm. Other attachments include a push blade, forks, extension arm and a suction hose.
Bacle also touts the Minidozer’s lower total cost of ownership when compared to diesel-powered equipment, such as a skid steer.
“The ratio of cost per hour of operation of the skid steer internal combustion (engine) is about three to four times more expensive,” Bacle says. “In general, combustion engines have almost two and a half times more parts. More parts means more wear and tear, more costs." And there are no diesel fuel costs.
He adds that life expectancy is also longer, with the Minidozers being used for up to 20,000 hours. Movex also performs reconditioning on the machines to put them back in service for many more hours, Bacle says.
Despite the advantages of the Minidozer, Bacle does not foresee it as a replacement for a skid steer.
“The skid steer has its role, and obviously, they'll be switching to electric one day, no doubt about that,” he says. “But we come in where we have a competitive advantage – a confined, low-profile, specific market.”
Check out the Minidozer in action below:
- Length: 112 ¾”
- Width: 27 ¾”
- Frame height: 22 5/16”
- Max bucket height: 62.5”
- Weight: 2,260 lbs.
- Lifting capacity: 642 lbs.
- Bucket capacity: 0.096 cu. yds.
- Max speed: 66 ft./min.
- Batteries: 435 amp at 6V (4)
- Charge time: 12 hours
- Length: 110”
- Width: 48”
- Frame height: 22”
- Max bucket height: 58”
- Weight: 3,340 lbs.
- Lifting capacity: 1,170 lbs.
- Bucket capacity: 0.17 cu. yds.
- Max speed: 66 ft./min.
- Batteries: 435 amp at 6V (8)
- Charge time: 14 hours