Peter Cook of NEC Contracting is continuing a long association with Takeuchi mini excavators. Professional Builder’s Lee Jones investigates the appeal.
If you want an indication of the reliability of a product then the loyalty it inspires in its customer base would be a decent barometer. As a brand Takeuchi has acquired a faithful band of followers ever since they first entered the UK market in the late ‘90s, and amongst them is Peter Cook, who has been investing in the Japanese manufacturer’s equipment from those very earliest days.
As the former Managing Director of W&H Roads, the 64-year-old has over those years sanctioned a number of significant Takeuchi deals. Having retired from that business, Peter decided that it was too early to hang up his hard hat just yet, and has since set up NEC Contracting, and is now the proud owner of a Takeuchi 217R, 1.7 tonne mini excavator.
The Essex-based company specialises in commercial and residential groundworks, together with small civils contracts and, despite the constraints of the lockdown, has been kept busy throughout 2020. “The day the lockdown started we were actually digging the footings on a substantial extension to a domestic property, and we’ve kept going throughout,” explains Peter. “In the past I’ve bought Takeuchi machines from just about every weight class, from micros up to 14 tonners, and they were an automatic choice for me when we needed to invest in a digger. In my opinion they are the best of the minis.”
Introduced as the companion to the existing TB216 model, the 217R delivers the same performance as its already popular sibling, with a dig depth of 2,390mm and a dump height of 2,545mm. It’s chief attribute, however, is its manoeuvrability with a reduced tail swing that allows for excavation hard up against buildings, and other obstacles, and an extendable track frame from 900mm out to 1,300mm, offering access through garden gates and the like. Add to that a slew radius of just 730mm and you have a very nimble machine at your disposal.
“I was already familiar with the TB216, and was originally going to go for that unit, but the reduced tail swing does provide additional versatility. We haven’t noticed any reduction in break out force, or power, with the short tail swing, and the unit is very stable in operation. We were excavating a footpath around an existing school building recently and being able to position the machine tight against walls or other barriers does have benefits in terms of productivity. Not only that, but I’ve been running Takeuchi’s for more than twenty years and I can testify to their reliability.” Indeed, with a design that includes a top mounted hydraulic boom cylinder, and internally routed hoses, these are units that are built to avoid damage and downtime, and withstand the rigours of site use, whilst a proven <19kW Stage V engine with 11.5kW output provides the power.
It is an opinion that is shared by NEC Contracting’s experienced excavator driver, Tony Smith. “They’re very smooth in operation, have got plenty of grunt, even with the smallest machines, and you can’t fault them for reliability. I’ve been using them since the early 2000s, and I know that the first machines that I drove back then are still going strong on site.”
Plant theft is a perennial problem, and with lockdown leaving equipment suddenly abandoned on many sites, a sharp rise in thefts has brought the issue back into focus. Peter has his own bitter experience of being a victim, which makes the TSS, Takeuchi Security System – which is now fitted as standard – of particular appeal. The technology will only allow programmed keys to start up the machine, and if an attempt is made with anything other than the 1 red master and 3 black user keys supplied (with the option of up to 13 keys in total) an alert is issued to the owner, operator or fleet manager.
Supplied by Hertfordshire-based Takeuchi Dealer, Robert Owen, the 1,680kg unit can be comfortably transported, via NEC Contracting’s Brian James trailer, towed on the back of a pick-up along with the additi on of an Arrowhead breaker and quick hitch transforming this mini into a multi-tasker.
“Given the previous experience we’ve had with the manufacturer, and the excellent service we receive from Robert Owen, we’ll be looking to make a further investment in Takeuchi, probably with a 5 tonner,” concludes Peter. “In their weight class, we’ve never found anything better.”