MARKET GUIDE: 21-tonne excavators

Peter Anderson reviews the 21-tonne class tracked excavators currently available in the UK market

The mainstay of many in-house and plant hire fleets in the UK are 21-tonne class tracked excavators. These have typically put on some weight over the years, with 22-tonne class machines now common. Add into the equation optional working equipment and undercarriage configurations, they could well have an actual service weight of 24-tonnes. There is also a new generation of compact radius excavators within these weights, a sector of the market that is expected to rapidly grow over the next few years.

The 21-tonne class excavator package offers good performance and a high degree of flexibility, in a smaller footprint and with lower running costs than the next step up, to a 25+ tonne excavator. Ideal candidates for the fitment of tilt-rotators and 3D GPS machine guidance systems, they are increasingly available with two-piece booms.

This sector of the market has largely made the transition to ultra-low emission Stage 5 engines, typically coupled to digitally-controlled hydraulic systems. Many manufacturers have also taken this opportunity to upgrade the cab, with state-of-the-art controls, improved visibility and fitted with a premium seat.



German construction equipment manufacturer Atlas offers two tracked excavators in this weight category, the 21.8-tonne short radius 215SR and the conventional 225 model weighing in at 23.9t. The current version of the short radius excavator is powered by a Stage 4 Deutz engine rated at 115kWm the larger conventional 225 is equipped with a Stage 5 Cummins engine delivering 129kW. Both excavators use the same roomy and comfortable cab, which comes with an automatic climate control system, together with rear and side mounted cameras.



The recently-launched Case E Series of excavators includes the 22.3-tonne CX210E model, which is powered by a Stage 5 FPT engine, rated at 124kW. In addition, an ultra-low emission engine and the latest in Japanese hydraulic management technology, which includes new work modes, the E-Series features a new high-tech telematics connectivity system.

Much focus will be on the revamped cab, the changes include a revised control layout and improved visibility, a new 25.4cm LCD monitor, suspended pilot joysticks and an improved air conditioning system.



Caterpillar offer three excavators in this category, the 320, the 320GC and the short radius 325 model. The new generation of 320GC/320 excavators require significantly less maintenance than their predecessors, in addition to being far more fuel efficient. Weighing in at 21.9- and 22.8-tonnes, they are powered by Stage 5 Cat engines developing 109kW and 128kW respectively.

The short radius 325 model weighs in at 22.5-tonnes, is powered by a 128kW Cat engine and includes a 2D grade control and an on-board payload weighing in the standard build.



Doosan offers four excavators in this category, the DX210-7, DX225-7, DX235-7 and the compact radius DX235CR-7, weighing in at 21.9-, 23.3-, 23.3- and 24.3-tonnes. All are powered by a Stage 5, 6-cylinder Doosan engine, rated at either 124kW or 129kW. The brand new DX210-7 model is available in short, long, narrow or long and wide undercarriage configurations. The DX225-7 benefits from a 4.9t counterweight, together with an upgraded hydraulic system, better matched to modern powered attachments. The DX235CR-7 model has a swing radius of just 1724mm and is fitted with a 5t counterweight.



Hidromek’s H4 Series of tracked excavators includes the 23.6-tonne HMK230 model, powered by a 121kW engine. This features the latest in hydraulic systems, featuring larger diameter cylinders and pipework than its predecessor, resulting in faster operating speeds and more efficient running. The improved power boost function and an increased hydraulic system maximum pressure provide all the grunt required. Carrying larger capacity buckets to take full advantage of all this power, coupled to shorter cycle times this should add up to a worthwhile gain in efficiency.



Depending on the configuration of its working equipment and undercarriage, the Hitachi ZX210-7 weighs between 21.9- and 23.9-tonnes, and is powered by a Stage 5 Isuzu engine developing 128.4kW. Hitachi boasts an 11% improvement in fuel consumption over its predecessor, mainly thanks to its upgraded TRIAS hydraulic management system. Hitachi also makes bold claims about the excavator’s large cab, with one of the lowest noise levels in the market and 16% less vibration than the previous generation. The cab now features a 20cm LCD monitor with a hi-res, anti-glare screen.



The new A-Series of Hyundai tracked excavators include the HX210A and its HX210AN sibling, the HX220A and the HX235CR models, which have operating weights of 22.0-, 22.8-, 22.1- and 24.0-tonnes respectively.

Power is provided by Stage 5 Cummins engines, all rated at 129kW. This is linked to the latest in hydraulic management technology, to better match engine output and the pump’s flow rate. In particular, the new electronic pump flow control system is said to improve both controllability and fuel consumption.



JCB has transformed their fortunes in the crawler excavator sector of the market with their all-new X Series machines. The 220X model is powered by an ultra-low emission Stage 5 JCB DieselMax 448 engine, rated at 129kW, and weighs from 22.7-tonnes to 24.7-tonnes. Proven Japanese hydraulic components provide a good combination of precision and efficiency, with extended hydraulic oil service intervals. It has been the surprisingly large cab that has attracted most comment, equipped with a deluxe Grammer heated air-suspension seat and a much-improved heating and air conditioning system.



Last year Kobelco launched the first 21-tonne class models in their new Dash 11 range of excavators, the SK210-11 and its narrow undercarriage sibling, the SK210N-11. Compared with the previous model, higher operating weights of between 21.9- and 23.5-tonnes, results in improved stability and increased lifting capacity.

The SK210-11 is powered by an ultra-low emission Stage 5 Hino engine delivering 124kW. The hydraulic system features an independent travel function, which dedicates one hydraulic pump to travel and one to the attachment.



The Komatsu PC210-11, its more intelligent PC210i-11 sibling and the PC230NHD-11, which features a narrow heavy-duty undercarriage, have operating weights from 22.1- to 23.5-tonnes. All are powered by an ultra-low emission Komatsu Stage 5 engine rated at 123kW. The Dash 11 series features an advanced electronic engine control system, developed by Komatsu, that manages the airflow rate, fuel injection, combustion parameters and after-treatment functions. This is integrated into the machine’s on-board diagnostics system and in Komrax telematics system.



Liebherr new Generation 8 of crawler excavators not only meet the ultra-low emission Stage 5 standard, but have been completely updated over the previous Stage 3B models. The R918 has a service weight of between 21.9- and 22.6-tonnes, with the R922 model weighing between 22.2- and 23.7-tonnes, with the larger R924 model starting out at 23.4-tonnes.

All are powered by a four-cylinder Liebherr engine, rated at 120kW, 115kW, 120kW and 129kW respectively. Each excavator is available in either a Classic or Advanced specification version, with an array of working equipment available.



The new generation of LiuGong’s Chinese-built excavators includes the 922F model, which weighs between 22.7- and 25.2-tonnes depending on specification. It is powered by a low-speed, high-torque Cummins ultra-low emission Stage 5 engine rated at 116kW.

The F Series feature the latest electronically-controlled hydraulic system, with a main electro-hydraulic proportional control valve for better management of flow distribution. With a combination of cutting-edge engine and hydraulic systems, the 922F should offer a substantial performance and fuel economy benefits over the outgoing 922E model.



Launched last year, the new SY215C from Chinese manufacturer Sany is fitted with a Stage 5 Cummins engine delivering 114kW. The cab includes an upgraded air suspension heated seat with joystick console adjustment. Fully proportional controls come as standard, allowing operators to perform grab and rotation functions at the same time. Additional cab features include an intelligent climate control function with in-cab sensors. There is also a new 25cm LCD touchscreen monitor/display, which provides the operator with enhanced control and functionality



Volvo offer two excavators in this category, the EC200E and the EC220E. The EC200E weighs-in at between 19.87- and 24.58-tonnes and is powered by a Volvo Stage 5 engine rated at 115kW. Volvo say that it is designed primarily for customers who need a light- to medium-duty digging excavator, with the EC200E providing a maximum digging depth of 6.78m. The larger and more powerful EC220E model has an operating weight between 20.47- and 25.76-tonnes and also uses a Volvo Stage 5 engine, but with an output of 129kW, with its standard equipment providing a maximum digging depth of 7.33m.

This article featured in the August 2022 issue of Earthmovers

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