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10 things you need to know before you hire a mini loader

In need of some extra earthmoving grunt on site but don’t know where to start? This mini loader guide can help

Hiring a mini loader can help you to take the sweat out of construction, landscaping and earthmoving activities, and get the job done quickly, safely and efficiently. Here are 10 things you need to know before you hire a digger, excavator, or a Kanga or Dingo mini loader.

1. What is a mini loader?

Mini loaders are a small, but powerful and heavy-duty type of front-end loader, commonly used to remove and move materials like sand, mulch, soil, rocks, gravel and other aggregates. With wheeled, tracked and remote-controlled options available, mini loaders provide a versatile and cost-effective alternative to traditional full-size loaders, skid steers and mini excavators. They also allow you to work in narrow and confined spaces that larger equipment often can’t reach.

 
2. How to use a mini loader

Mini loaders can be used in a variety of ways to support tasks ranging from boring post holes and digging out trenches, to grinding down felled tree stumps. Here are some more ways to put a mini loader to use on your next jobsite:

  • Digging and backfilling small trenches

  • Light demolition work

  • Removing debris

  • Removing and stockpiling soils

  • Drilling holes for fences and footings

  • Moving heavy tools and materials like cement bags, turf, fence posts and paving

  • Tilling (aerating) soil

  • Spreading and levelling soil

  • Mixing cement

  • Mowing and trimming lawns

 
3. When are mini loaders not suitable?

Given their size, mini loaders and mini diggers are not suitable for all construction, earthmoving and landscaping tasks. You’re better off hiring a full size excavator, skid steer loader or backhoe for:

  • Excavation and demolition work

  • Tree felling

  • Road construction

  • Lifting and moving loads that exceed 350kg (or the operating capacity of your mini loader)

Speak with a Coates product specialist today for help choosing the right type of equipment for your next job.

 
4. Mini loader attachments

Mini loader attachments are where the magic really happens. When you hire a mini loader, attachments can help you to customise your equipment for a range of landscaping and earthmoving tasks – from trimming lawns with a flail mower attachment, to using rippers to tear up clay and other types of soil.

Here are some examples of other popular mini loader attachments.

  • Post hole digger (or auger)

  • Trencher

  • 4 in 1 bucket

  • Rotary Hoe

  • Pallet fork

  • Ripper

  • Dozer blade

  • Smudger bar (for levelling)

Coates offers cost-effective mini loader attachment packages that include a bucket, trencher and post-hole auger.

Mini loader hole digger

 
5. Mini loader sizes and capabilities

With a high power-to-weight ratio, mini loaders pack considerable punch for a relatively small piece of equipment. While size and capability vary, mini loaders generally have an operating lift capacity that ranges from 250-350kg, depending on the application.

 
6. Mini loader safety tips

Like all heavy equipment, operating mini loaders comes with a degree of risk. Follow these tips to keep your operators safe, and bystanders out of harm’s way.

  • Before using a mini loader, familiarise yourself with safety and operational features

  • Inspect mini loaders daily for defects like oil leaks, loose connections, and split or bulging hoses

  • Ensure all operators have the required competency and a valid C-class drivers licence

  • Wear appropriate PPE, like safety hats, steel cap boots, gloves, hearing and vision protection

  • Avoid loose clothing that can get caught in moving parts or tangled with the control lever

  • Know your loads and work within the lifting capability of your equipment

  • Use mini loaders on suitable ground conditions

  • Before walking away from a mini loader, first lower and remove all pressure from hydraulic lines

  • Lodge a free Before You Dig request: check for power, telephone, gas and sewer lines before digging

  • Never completely fill hydraulic storage tanks to allow for expansion and displacement

  • Turn mini loaders off before refuelling

  • Never use heavy equipment to lift or move people

  • When you hire a mini loader, always choose high-quality and well-maintained equipment

 
7. Transporting a mini loader

Transporting mini loaders needn’t be costly or complicated. Coates can deliver all hire equipment to your jobsite. We also offer convenient and cost-effective equipment and trailer packages for customers that prefer to manage their own transport.

All Coates mini loader trailers are purpose built for safely carrying this equipment, and feature electric brakes, LED lights, four wheels for balance and extra-strong weight bearing capacity. Here are some tips and tricks for safely transporting mini loaders, diggers, excavators, and other heavy equipment.

  • Choose transport or a trailer with adequate capacity for the weight of the machine and any attachments.

  • Make sure ramps used for loading and unloading can withstand the weight of your equipment.

  • Remember to disengage the auto idle feature, to prevent your mini loader from firing up during transit.

  • Follow best practice for safely securing your equipment to the floor of your vehicle or trailer, to prevent any movement or damage on your way to and from site.

 
8. Pros and cons of hiring a mini loader

These features might help to weigh up whether a mini loader (or different type of hire equipment), is right for you:

Pros
  • Compact size for manoeuvrability

  • Custom trailers available for ease of transportation

  • User-friendly design

  • High power-to-weight ratio

  • Mitigation of manual lifting hazards

  • Customisable through attachments

  • Minimal ground / turf impact

  • Cost efficient to hire

 
Cons
  • Mini loaders excel at moving materials, but an excavator is required for digging up compacted soils

  • Full-size equipment is also needed for performing larger tasks, and where the operating capacity of mini loaders is too small

Mini loader bucket

 
9. Mini loader vs traditional skid steer loader

Mini loaders and traditional skid steer loaders (like Bobcats), are two of the most popular earth movers available. Use this guide to find the right type of equipment for your next job, or talk to a Coates product specialist today about skid steer and mini loader hire.

Mini loader
  • Mini loaders are typically narrower than SSLs – an important feature for tight access when you need to get into and out of work spaces that conventional loaders can’t access

  • Mini loaders are compatible with a wide range of attachments, making them a versatile type of equipment to have on site

  • Wheeled or tracked mini loaders are available, depending on the tasks you need to perform, and the surface you will be working on

 
Skid steer loader (like Bobcats)
  • Manoeuvrability is a standout feature for SSLs. For precision movement, the wheels on each side of an SSL are designed to rotate and turn in tandem, allowing the left-side wheels to move independently of the right

  • SSLs can also achieve zero-radius turning, by simultaneously driving the wheels on one side forward, and the other side in reverse

  • SSLs can also use tracks, or wheels (i.e. compact track loaders)

Both mini loaders and skid steers can be diesel or petrol powered.

 

 
10. Cost of hiring a mini loader

Competitive hire rates are available for mini loaders and mini loader attachments, with daily, weekly and long-term hire options available. Contact your local branch for a quote today.

 

 
 

Coates has a range of mini loaders and mini loader attachments to suit all projects. Contact Coates today to arrange a quote, or for advice on all of your construction, earthmoving and landscaping equipment needs.

 

Images courtesy of Kanga Loaders

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