Professional Builder’s Lee Jones tracks the progress of Takeuchi as the company celebrates twenty years in the UK
Since its arrival on these shores back in 1996 the manufacturer from the land of the rising sun has seen its market share soar, recently celebrating the 25,000th unit sold in the UK and Ireland.
The brand that sports that distinctive red and white livery can, however, trace its origins as far back as 1963, when trained mechanical engineer, Akio Takeuchi, with a capital investment of 3 million yen – or the equivalent of just £3,000 – founded the firm that bears his name in his native Nagano, Japan.
Today, Takeuchi now proudly occupies third place in mini excavator sales, and plant hirers remain the most significant customer, with the unit’s reliability and high residual value of particular appeal to a sector that is inevitably looking to regularly refresh its fleet.
Given that compact tracked mini excavators are now almost ubiquitous on construction sites, and have overtaken many of the functions that the likes of backhoe loaders formerly fulfilled, it is worth remembering that they are a comparatively recent introduction, and it was Takeuchi who were at the forefront of their development.
In 1971 it was, in fact, Takeuchi who introduced the world’s first, the TB1000 – a 360 degree slewing, two tonne machine which was specifically developed for the demands of a customer.
When a local Japanese builder was looking to move away from the back-breaking and labour intensive bucket and shovel method of digging foundations, he approached the eponymous founder of the Japanese firm with the idea for a mechanised alternative, and an entirely new class of machine was the result.
In 1992 the first ever Micro TB007 was introduced, and four years later, in October 1996, the Takeuchi story moves to the UK, choosing the most geographically central location for its home in Rochdale.
That Lancashire town hosts the UK operation to this day but, following a £5 million investment in 2008, Takeuchi Mfg UK now enjoys a 56,000 sq ft facility with space for 500 machines in stock, a parts and service centre and training school.
In the twenty years that the mini excavator giant has been importing its products to the UK, one significant development has been an increase in the use of the short and zero tail swing options that will cope with a growing trend towards more compact sites and restricted access.
To meet that demand the TB153FR and TB180FR arrived in 2006. Takeuchi also unveiled its first electric concept mini to the visitors of SED in 2006, and, whilst the limits of battery technology were to prove a barrier in those early years, a commitment to the concept would certainly bear fruit for the future.
Takeuchi recognised the need for electric alternatives and hybrid technology soon followed, offering the manufacturer’s favourite sized model, and the UK’s most popular mini weight class, as a new Hybrid TB216E.
For the first time, with this model, a hybrid excavator is available in which the operation with the electric motor and diesel engine is identical.
Other recent additions to an already comprehensive range extending up to 15 tonnes includes an upgraded to its smallest micro excavator, with the introduction in 2015 of the TB210R, boasting a larger engine, more power, servo controls and an even more streamlined counterweight.
This reduced tailswing model is equipped with a hydraulically-expanding track width, that enable it to fit through a standard doorway, but with the stability to handle a maximum ground level reach of 3,220mm.
The TB230 is newest arrival in the 3 tonne sector, whilst an entirely new class of four tonne machine is occupied by the TB240. The latter offers a bucket breakout force of 30.8kN and 18.3kN arm digging force, powered by a 27.2kW Yanmar 4 cylinder engine – features which, in performance, provide a dig depth to 3,465mm and ground reach of 5,425mm.