The Dirt on Compact Excavators: 5 Tips for Efficient Digging

Jan 30, 2024

When it comes to the jobsite, seasoned contractors know that bigger doesn’t always mean better. In fact, the correctly sourced compact excavator can out-work its larger counterpart in certain job sites that require tight turns and precision digging. Make efficient work around your job site with Kubota’s line of compact excavators, built to navigate tighter spaces with ease and efficiency. 

Here are 5 tips to dig strategically, efficiently, and safely:

  1. Call Before You Dig – 811 is the national “call before you dig” phone number. You can call 811 or visit at least a few business days before you dig. You simply cannot skip this step. Not only is it the law, but if you hit a power line, gas line, or even a communication line, the unstable environment nor the massive fines are not worth the risk. When you call 811 your project will be tagged and a local utility will assign a series of colored flags onsite, indicating where power lines, sewer, natural gas, communication, and even future planned excavation. Stay outside of the tolerance zone when digging, which is 36 inches to either side of the flags.

  1. Pick the right sized excavator. Even the most experienced contractors sometimes are tempted to pick the “bigger” machine. We get it – big machines with big power are exciting! However, it’s important to consider other conditions including gate entrance, dump height, and even onsite storage when selecting the right size of excavator for the job at hand. At Kubota, we engineer powerful compact excavators, designed to exceed your jobsite needs on a compact level. Check your gate openings, needed dig depth, precision placement and then know with confidence that there is a machine to fit this exact job, and don’t worry about the power, we’ll still impress you there, too. 

    Even Kubota’s smallest compact excavators feature surprisingly wide working and digging ranges for their compact frames. The K008-5 has a working range that includes a digging depth of 5 ft. 8 in. and a bucket breakout force of 2,205 lbs., and the U10-5 extends to a 5 ft. 11 in. digging depth with a bucket breakout force of 2,337 lbs. Of course, if you do need to go up in size, Kubota has you covered with the new and top-of-the-line KX080-5 delivers power and efficiency for its size with a 66.6 horsepower* engine, digging depth of 15 ft. 1.1 in. and a bucket breakout force of 14,660 lbs.

  1. Map it out! Ensure you are level and have ample swing space. Now that you know about what’s buried under ground, assess what’s happening above and devise a plan. Be aware of others working in the vicinity and utilize safety barriers as required. Check for obstacles, and make sure to include a large and level working space for your compact excavator. Accidents on jobsites can occur by equipment not operating on a secure, level surface. Take your time with positioning – so that you can be efficient when digging and not constantly re-positioning to secure balance. Walk around your excavator before starting it and acquaint yourself with the “swing zones” to be sure you have plenty of room. If you are operating around a utility, it is advised that you have a spotter to monitor that you keep a safe distance from any marked flags.

  1. Get acquainted with your loading capabilities. When operating a compact excavator, it’s important to always check your maximum dump height so that you don’t lose material before reaching the truck bed you are loading. Operators should also know the truck’s maximum load so you know how many buckets you can fill before having to stop, avoiding an overload.

  1. Get to work. Build your fleet. There are some excavators that will meet a wide variety of jobsite needs. But not all contractor work is the same, and there is a Kubota compact excavator that is perfect for you. 

“With the addition of the new KX080-5, we continue to have a strong offering of compact excavator models across the 1-to-8-ton weight classes, and feature more flexibility among the conventional and minimal tail swing lines,” said Bill Holton, Kubota construction equipment product manager. “All of our -5 generation models are solidly engineered and outfitted with more customization to keep customers working efficiently and comfortably.”

While seasoned contractors might conduct some of these tasks routinely, it’s always worth a refresher and never skip re-evaluating when safety and efficiency is on the line. For more information on Kubota’s full line of compact and utility sized excavators please visit

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