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Bobcat celebrates 25 years of compact excavators

Digger Blogger | 20:09, Thu January 12 2012

In 2012, Bobcat celebrates 25 years of success in the compact excavator market. From what began as an important diversification for Bobcat as the premier manufacturer of skid-steer loaders, the last 25 years have seen the company evolve to become one of the world's leading compact excavator manufacturers and lay claim to being the global leader in compact construction equipment.

The story of the Bobcat compact excavator began in 1987 when the brand first appeared on machines sourced under an OEM agreement.  Demand was so strong, particularly in Europe, that the decision was made to design and manufacture the company’s own line of excavator products. This led to the debut in October 1988 of the company’s first compact excavator product, built in collaboration with a Japanese manufacturer and introduced to European dealers at Da Balaia in Portugal.  In 1989, Bobcat began production of its own line of compact excavators at the company’s plant in Bismarck in North Dakota, USA.

Throughout the 1990s, successively larger models were added to the Bobcat-designed excavator product offering. In the Spring of 1998, the 5-tonne 337 and the 341 long arm variant were added to the line, with the 337 being exhibited for the first time at Bauma 1998.  Thisbrought the range of Bobcat compact excavators to four core models: the 320, 325, 331 and 337 models. 

At Samoter 1999, another important milestone in the development of the Bobcat excavator product range was reached with the introduction of the first excavator model with an expandable undercarriage, the 322.

At Samoter 2002, another significant development was marked with the addition of the 7.5 tonne 442 excavator.  Not only did the 442 represent an important expansion in terms of operating weight and digging depth; it was also the first Bobcat excavator product offering zero tail swing. 

The Bobcat zero tail swing excavator product offering was expanded with the addition, in 2003, of the 4.5 tonne 435 and 435 FastTrack models, followed by the introduction in 2004 of the smaller 3.5 tonne 430 and 430 FastTrack zero tail swing excavators.  

The expansion of the product line continued in 2007 with the launch of the smaller 425 and 428 models with operating weights between 2 and 3 tonne.  All of these excavator models blended speed and digging force with highly responsive hydraulic controls to provide excellent productivity. 

More recently, complementing the introduction of new products, came a determination to design and build products that meet the needs of customers in the local markets.  Illustrating  the intensified focus of listening to the voice of the customer was the 1.4 tonne 319 compact excavator, introduced early in 2006, the first excavator product to be designed and built specifically to meet the needs of Bobcat customers in EMEA. 

In 2001, Bobcat acquired Superstav s.r.o., at the time a manufacturer of compact loader backhoes based in Dobris in the Czech Republic. This acquisition was an important stepping stone to establishing a manufacturing capability in Europe for Bobcat compact excavators, compact loaders and attachments.  At first, there was only manufacture of selected high volume attachments such as buckets and backhoes.  In 2004, however, manufacture of the line of loader backhoes was discontinued, freeing up capacity to produce compact equipment.  Late in 2004, production began of the 553 loader and, a little more than a year later, production of the 319 compact excavator also began.

To meet the rapidly growing needs of the local markets in EMEA, a brand-new greenfield plant was constructed in Dobris, together with a new training facility, adjacent to the factory, to provide product, sales, aftermarket and other types of training for the dealers and major customers in the EMEA area.  Work was completed on these facilities in summer 2007, and the grand opening of the new plant and training facility was held in September 2007.

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In early 2008, Bobcat launched the first models of the E Series excavators: the E08 and E10 micro-excavators designed and manufactured at the Dobris plant.  Easy to transport, the E08 and E10 micro-excavators are the smallest models in the Bobcat range. 

At the other end of the range, Bobcat launched the new E60, the company’s first ever 6-tonne model, the E80, a new 8-tonne model and the first ever 5.5-tonne E55w wheeled excavator.

Next in the E Series range was a completely new generation of 3-tonne excavators, the 3.2 tonne E32 conventional tail swing and the 3.5 tonne E35 zero tail swing models. 

Hard on the heels of these products, Bobcat launched the E14 and E16 compact excavators, replacing the 319, 321 and 323 models. 

At Bauma 2010, the Bobcat E45 and E50 zero tail swing compact excavators were introduced.

In 2011, based on a platform similar to that of the E50 zero tail swing model, Bobcat launched the E55 compact excavator with a conventional upper structure.  Also introduced was the new 2.6 tonne zero tail swing E26 compact excavator, completing the new E-generation of machines.  Replacing the 425, 428 and 430 models, the E26 offers all the advantages of the E Series: high reliability, exceptional operator comfort, smooth and precise workgroup operation and superior hydraulic performance.

Twenty-five years on, the Bobcat compact excavator range sets the standard worldwide for performance, quality, reliability and durability.  The range currently comprises 13 different models of compact excavators with operating weights from 1-8 tonne, including both conventional and zero tail swing designs. 



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