From large companies to the everyday DIYer, whether general landscape work or a unique hardscape project, it’s imperative to have equipment that’s productive, versatile, and reliable. Enter the mini skid steer.
The mini skid steer has been around for quite some time, with widespread adoption going back to the mid-90s. While not a new machine, mini skid steers have grown in popularity for several reasons. They’re easy to operate and capable of tackling numerous tasks. Not only that, they pack a powerful punch in a small machine. Compared to traditional skid steers that weigh an average of 6,000 pounds, a mini weighs about 1/3 less, yet boasts similar lift capacity and breakout force.
Whether you’re in Anaheim or Australia, here are five key reasons why this powerhouse machine belongs in your fleet or might be the perfect fit for your next DIY project.
Application, Meet Attachment
Perhaps the greatest value offered by a mini skid steer isn’t a trait of the machine itself but rather its versatility. Thanks to a variety of attachments with which it can be paired, this small and mighty machine can go from material mover to snow blower to fencepost digger with the simple swap of an attachment.
While each manufacturer varies in offerings, most mini skid steers are available with dozens of attachments, from standard buckets and augers to those designed for more specific applications, like concrete work for hardscapes. This offers options and greater opportunity for squeezing every ounce of productivity out of the machine.
The breadth of capabilities offered by mini skid steers is appealing to anyone trying to do more with fewer resources. In addition to productivity, the mini skid steer’s versatility also opens up opportunity for companies looking to diversify.
By changing out an attachment, a small landscape company is now in position to offer snow blowing services to clients. Not only does an auger attachment offer a solution for a large contractor doing tree and shrub planting jobs, it also lends itself to precise, productive hole digging needed for fencing projects. Rather than rent additional machines designed to do specific tasks, the mini skid steer puts companies in the position to offer more with a single machine.
Whether a deadline is quickly approaching or days are just long and jam-packed, daily preventative maintenance is often the first thing an equipment operator or owner neglects when things get busy.
The mini skid steer isn’t a machine that demands a ton of attention to preventative maintenance. Even the areas that require more frequent care are designed for longevity, as well as convenience for quick work. Not only does this make the mini skid steer an ideal machine for busy contractors, it’s also a great option for DIYers to rent or own.
Thanks to their compact designs, grease points are easy to access, while key areas like the loader arms and hydraulic hoses are visible for quick daily inspection. Most attachments require a simple walk-around inspection and greasing, then they are ready to go to work.
Even the biggest perceived area of concern for track-driven models – the tracks themselves – are being fine-tuned in new model design to make them more durable and capable of navigating challenging jobsites. The tracks on Vermeer’s newer mini skid steers, for example, have been specially-designed to be less prone to damage, tearing, and slipping off the machine.
Especially for homeowners, residential contractors and those working on smaller jobsites, accessibility to the work area often means navigating equipment and tools through small gates and around obstacles. Mini skid steers are designed to fit through narrow gate openings, with some of the smallest models measuring just three feet wide.
Mini skid steers also do well maneuvering around buildings, landscapes and hardscapes, other equipment, and general obstacles on sites on small, tight sites.
Then there’s the issue of transportability. Not only is getting equipment on the jobsite often a challenge, but getting to and from the site can be a logistical nightmare. Thanks to their compact design and lighter weight compared to traditional skid steers, mini skid steers are a great option for customers who frequently transport machines from one site to the next, and those who don’t have the means to transport larger machines.
The final factor in equipment choice is one of the most important considerations that goes through any operator’s mind: Am I going to be able to run this machine? For a business owner, that question expands to numerous employees who will need to be able to operate the equipment onsite.
Mini skid steers feature simple, intuitive controls and numerous safety features, making them ideal for operators of every skill level. This is also beneficial for homeowners, as it’s a less intimidating machine to learn and properly operate.
Remember all those attachments mentioned earlier? The thought of switching out attachments is one of the most daunting, and especially concerning for newer operators. Because they’re meant to be used with so many attachments, mini skid steers are also designed to make the change-out of those attachments quick and easy, most requiring just a few minutes.
Operator fatigue is also a concern of many owners and the operators themselves, especially when it comes to repetitive tasks that require precision. Consider a fencing project, drilling dozens or more holes. Doing this work with a manual auger would be tiring and tedious, not to mention difficult to achieve the level of accuracy needed for a consistent, quality job. Doing this work with an auger attachment on a mini skid steer saves time and results in the precision accuracy desired.
Finally, but most important of all, safety. In addition to eliminating accidents caused by operator fatigue, mini skid steers feature a design to keep operators safe. One key safety feature offered on some stand-on units, like Vermeer’s, is the automatic shutoff. An operator must be standing on the platform in order to start and run the mini skid steer. In the event the operator falls off, the machine automatically shuts off, preventing potential damage to the site or equipment, or worse, a tragic accident. The operator platform also gives a more complete view of the jobsite area, and the ability to see nearby obstacles, equipment, and, especially, other people.
Across the globe, mini skid steers are proving their worth on the jobsite. Whether you’re a large landscape company or have a hardscape project at home, give the mini skid steer a look.
About The Author
Brandon Kyse is General Manager with RDO Vermeer and based in Sacramento, CA.
Additional contribution provided by Steve Reeves, National Marketing Manager with Vermeer Australia, based in Brisbane.
For more information on Vermeer mini skid steers and attachments, contact your local RDO Equipment Co. store.