Review: Detank DE150BD excavator
EVARN COVICH tests a new 14.5-tonne Detank DE150BD excavator and says this relatively new brand is more than capable of playing with the big boys.
When I was asked recently to review a new Detank excavator my initial response was, "Who the hell is Detank?" I have since found out that even though the brand may be a relative newcomer with regards to the manufacture of excavators (the first one rolled off the production line in 2011), Detank has, in fact, hit the ground running with a machine to rival most seasoned veterans in a very congested excavator market.
The Detank team have taken what they consider to be the best and most reliable components and put them together to form a machine that they feel is not only reliable but very sturdy as well.
The machine I tested was a Detank DE150BD excavator weighing in at around 14,500kg.
From my first glance at the Cummins engine and Kawasaki pumps right through to the heavy-duty construction welding and spacious cab I can see that Detank is serious about being a major player in the excavator industry.
As I walked around the machine provided by Steve Morrison, the managing director of Detank importers TISCA, the first thing to catch my eye was the welding construction of the machine. The welds would have to be the neatest and strongest looking that I have seen on any machine.
Peering in through side doors on the machine it was good to see that all the serviceable filters are easily accessible from the ground. A quick look in the toolbox also revealed the fuel transfer pump, which is always an added bonus these days. The grease nipples also seemed to be well positioned for easy access.
The factory ROPS and FOPS cab with the headlights on top as well as the guard rails around the rear of the machine all looked to be well built and, along with hydraulic craning valves, auxiliary piping and reversing camera, all come as standard for the Australian market.
The only minor issue for me was that the latches for the engine cover on top of the machine are not situated in the most ideal place for ease of operation as I either had to step over the cover or kneel on it to undo the latches.
Under the hood
Opening up the engine compartment I was quite surprised at the amount of space around the engine as I loathe having to work on a hot engine with only minimal room to fit my hands and arms.
I don’t think that there would be too many issues like that arising on this machine, though, with a Cummins QSB4.5 common rail engine under the hood that produces 110 horsepower (82kW) and has a Tier 3 emissions rating.
The heart of the machine consists of Kawasaki T5V63DP hydraulic pumps circulating fluid at 132.7 lpm x 2 in an electronic system that senses different work modes in order to optimise performance and economy in various types of operations.
The machine also comes ex factory equipped with auxiliary piping for rockbreakers, mulchers, etc. Always a bonus as it can be a costly extra to have done aftermarket!
The heavy-duty track frame and guards are strengthened in a number of places in order to maximise the life of the self-lubricated track chains and the spring-loaded idler. The strengthened steps are also able to be utilised as tie-down points as well.
In the cab
The DE150BD comes standard fitted with ROPS and FOPS, which we all know is becoming an ever-increasing necessity on job sites these days with the ever expanding safety regulations, etc.
The cab roof has two work lights as well as the light on the boom and, of course, the toolbox-mounted light on the offside. You can never have too many lights as far as I’m concerned.
The climb into the cab was made fairly easy thanks to the step on the track frame; some well positioned handles and a good size door. As I settled into the seat I was immediately impressed by the amount of room afforded inside the cabin — I was able to stretch my legs out with relative ease.
I was informed that Detank had purchased drawings from one of the world’s major excavator manufacturers and had modelled aspects of its machines from these drawings, so you would almost think that you were sitting in a different brand of excavator if it wasn’t for the big Detank logo on the floor mat.
I am not complaining, though, as I think that the company has chosen one of the better layouts to model the equipment on.
On the control side, you can adjust the control levers independently of the seat adjustment, which is always a huge bonus for operator comfort. Everyone is built differently and when you are spending hours on end every day sitting in the driver seat you want to be positioned in the best possible way in order to go home at the end of the day still feeling good without any back, neck or shoulder issues.
Switches and dials inside the cabin are all fairly easily accessible to the operator and are all pretty self-explanatory.
The windows on the machine provide for excellent vision while sitting in the driver seat. In particular the very large window offers an excellent view out the offside of the machine and the good-sized windows in the door coupled with the rear-facing camera make for good viewing of what’s going on around the machine at all times.
With the large amount of glass on the cabin of the Detank DE150BD excavator I would imagine that this machine could get quite hot during the summer months if allowed to.
However, on the day of our test it was a beautiful spring day in Queensland, tipping the temperature gauge in the mid- to high-twenties. With the climate control set on 20 it easily managed to keep the cab at a constant temperature with the fan setting on one.
Rounding out the cab features is an LCD dash which provides data regarding temperature, fuel, revs, travel speed setting, service history, fault alarms, etc. I found it pretty easy to read and understand at a glance. It also doubles as the screen for the reversing camera.
On the job
Steve at TISCA organised an excellent area in Bli Bli on the Sunshine Coast to put the machine through its paces. There were a few stockpiles of crushed rock, a stockpile of overburden consisting of a mixture of soil, sand and clay, and also some virgin ground to really try to get the machine working hard.
On start up the enclosed cabin made for a nice, quiet work environment with the air conditioning unit working well before I cranked up the AM/FM stereo (complete with USB connection) to check out the surround sound.
I must say it was one of the better sound systems that I have encountered on a digger. It always helps me to get into a rhythm and ease the pain of actually having to do some work.
I cranked up the revs and proceeded to walk the machine up onto the small bench of overburden. The first thing I noticed was that the travel speed felt quite fast, prompting me to reach for the LCD screen before I realised that the machine was already in turtle mode.
The travel pedals/levers were very responsive, however, making it easy to control the travel speed without too much effort at all.
As I started to dig through the pile of overburden I was impressed by the speed of the machine. The arm and slew are able to work at a pretty good rate of knots so if the operators are not able to find that smooth operating balance they could find themselves being thrown around inside the machine, which we all know is not much fun after a while but is definitely not the fault of the machine.
As I was digging the overburden and swinging it around 180 degrees behind the machine not only was I impressed with the speed of the slew but also at the rate that the slew brake was able to stop the machine with a full bucket.
Once I started to dig into some harder ground, however, I did notice that the machine lacked a bit of breakout power, making it a little harder to fill the bucket.
After trying a few different approaches I ended up with the old ‘take about a 6-inch cut at a time and don’t try to fill the bucket up too quickly’ method, which seemed to work out well.
The local agent told me that the next shipment of DE150B excavators will, in fact, come with larger bucket and stick rams ex factory to help alleviate this issue.
Being able to position the seat in relation to the control levers and then position the whole lot in relation to travel pedals/levers made for a comfortable work environment. The control levers were comfortable to hold and felt quite soft to operate. The hydraulic system also felt very responsive to the levers.
One of my favourite things is to have a dozer blade on excavators this size. Not only do they save a lot of time when it comes to tidying up, but also allow you to quickly move dirt over a distance and also provide stability for when you’re digging — definitely a bonus when you’re operating a machine capable of these digging speeds.
The position of the control lever inside the cab along with the visibility and blade position on the machine all made for rather easy blade operation during our test.
The bottom line
I really didn’t know what to expect when I came to review this machine. Being a fairly new brand name to the excavator market there wasn’t much I could do in the way of research leading up to the test.
In fact, that was probably not such a bad thing as I had to approach whole thing without any preconceptions.
What I found was a company wanting to be a major player in the excavator market right from the onset. From its multimillion dollar 100,000-square-metre, state-of-the-art production base, Detank is able to produce around 12,000 excavators per year.
I found the Detank DE150BD excavator itself operated quite fast, and although I felt that this particular machine lacked a little bit of breakout power I still found it to be able to do the job very satisfactorily.
I tested its agility by climbing onto a stockpile of 150mm crushed rock and it tackled the almost 45-degree incline with little effort. In fact, although I did drop the bucket in to give the machine a little help, it was not needed as the machine climbed the stockpile with ease.
I found the machine comfortable to operate and visibility was excellent.
This is an excavator that will be able to go toe-to-toe with the big boys and, with all the extras such as headlights, reversing camera and guard rails that come standard ex factory, I would recommend that anyone looking for a value-for-money new machine should check it out.
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