Innovation “essential” in crowded compact market


JCB has added four new models to its new generation compact excavator range.

Featuring operating weights of 4.8-5.7 tonnes, the midis are available in conventional, reduced and zero tailswing configurations.

The manufacturer said all four new machines – the 48Z-1, 51R-1, 55Z-1 and 57C-1 – feature 100% steel bodywork and a “sturdy” four-plate dipper arm construction. The redesigned dig end is 100% bushed, which JCB said leads to 500 hour greasing intervals. Additionally, the upgraded hydraulic system is said to deliver up to 9% more bucket tearout force and 2% higher dipper arm tearout.

The excavators also feature an improved operator’s cab, with the 57C-1 using the same structure as the larger 10 tonne machine. JCB said the cab is 18% more spacious and offers up to 11% more visibility.

Chris Nowell, director and general manager mini-excavator growth at JCB, told Project Plant the fact JCB designs and manufactures mini-excavators in the UK has helped the company grow this aspect of the business over the past three decades. However, he stressed this is only part of the mix and factors such as quality of product, specification and price are vital to helping JCB compete in a “crowded” marketplace.

“We’re very reactive to the UK market,” he explained. “It’s a big part of our business and we will absolutely react very quickly to the demands of our customers. I think we add some value to our customers as well that some of our competitors can’t do. We support them in their activities, we host visits to the factory and support their own events. A lot of our customers want a single source supplier. If you combine mini-excavators with our other products then we can offer a package that our competitors can’t offer.”

Given the hugely competitive nature of the UK compact excavator market, Chris said it is “absolutely essential” to keep innovating with the type of features seen in JCB’s new generation range. “We are up against some very strong competitors,” he added. “The market is really busy and crowded. If you can’t stay up with the pack, you get left behind very quickly.

“The competitive environment for mini-excavators is very aggressive. In the UK, if you want to buy a mini-excavator, potentially there are ten competitors who could all claim to have a credible offering and therefore you have to innovate to stay ahead – and I believe we have. Our new generation has been all about driving that innovation, absolutely having class-leading products that will stand up against the best of the competition.

“If you take mini-excavators, a very high proportion of the market is rental. What rental customers are looking for are things like cost of ownership, residual costs, maximising revenue on the product and efficiency. Some of the things they look for might be different from somebody who is an owner-operator.”

Last year the UK was the largest mini-excavator market in western Europe. According to Chris, the Scottish market has followed a similar path to the rest of the UK, with positive feedback being received on JCB’s new generation range.

“Scot JCB are one of our best dealers,” he said. “They’re very passionate about what they do. We know consistently that Scot JCB get very high ratings when we do customer satisfaction surveys. When I was looking at stats recently, the Scottish market was pretty much aligned to the UK market. It’s an important market for us and through Scot JCB we have an excellent distributor. We’ve got some really good users of mini-excavators up in Scotland and actually, in terms of our new generation range, some of the early adopters were Scottish companies. We’ve had some really good feedback from those customers.”