The best excavators over 30 tonnes

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  • Earthmovers & Exacavators

Australia is one of the world’s biggest markets for excavators over 30 tonnes. We’ve got a lot of land to cover here, and a lot of earth to be moved.


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Australia loves a big digger. That may be the understatement of the century, especially for us here at Earthmovers & Excavators. The market for machines over 30 tonnes here is booming, and is only getting bigger thanks to the slew of major infrastructure projects going on.

But what are you looking for in a big excavator? We’ve rounded up some of our favourites to help you out …

The best excavators over 30 tonnes

Hitachi Zaxis 330LC

Hitachi Zaxis 330LC excavator

"This is the first Hitachi excavator we have had the pleasure of reviewing and I loved it," reviewer Ron Horner says.

"Hitachi have gone for the Isuzu AA-6HK1X six-cylinder, Intercooled, turbo diesel engine for the Zaxis 330 model, which pushes out a healthy 250hp (186.4kW). Hook this up to the two variable displacement axial piston pumps pushing out 290l/p/min and you have some real power on hand.

"The powerful track drive motors were faultless when working those steep rocky gullies and believe me, carrying those massive boulders and the fallen vegetation out of those steep areas and for some distance is no mean feat."

John Deere E360LC

John Deere E360 excavator

The 36-tonne John Deere E360LC makes it on to our list even though it's not on sale in Australia yet, but what we've seen so far has us salivating.

"The new Aussie excavators will initially have the EU tier 2 stage John Deere Power Tech 6090 (9-litre) turbo charged diesel engine running a 238kW of power @ 1,900 rpm," Ron says.

"There was something about sitting in this cab that was like pulling on a good old pair of work boots. It just felt right.

"The visibility, seating, control positioning, screen size and simplistic dash layout were ultra-functional but I suppose the most eye-catching part was the size of the cabin."

Hyundai R520LC-9

Hyundai R520LC-9 excavator

This 52-tonne big boy is a legend of the quarry, chewing through hard rock thanks to its 740 litres per minute hydraulic pumps delivering over 276kN of breakout force at the bucket.

The digger is powered by a 6-cylinder 255kW Cummins diesel, sits on 5.4m long tracks and has a dig depth of just over 6 metres.

The R520LC-9 features a three square metre bucket to minimise pass numbers, while inside the cab the height-adjustable joystick controls. The operator’s seat in the cab is also fully adjustable and is integrated with the console to absorb vibration, keeping operator fatigue down

Komatsu PC300LC-8

Komatsu PC300LC-8 excavator

The Komatsu PC300LC-8 is 34.6 tonnes of muscle driven by a 4-cylinder turbocharged and aftercooled 184kW Tier III Komatsu diesel and is loaded with the latest tech.

The PC300LC-8 can achieve a breakout force of just over 20 tonnes at the bucket and features Komatsu’s innovative ‘HydrauMind’ hydraulic valve system, which can deliver a flow rate of 535 litres per minute.

Other tech features include a high-resolution 7-inch LCD display plus 6 individual work modes with adjustable hydraulic flow rates to match they type of work being done. In the long run this will save a lot of money in fuel use and machine wear.

Cat 335F L CR

Cat 335LCR excavator

The 37-tonne Cat 335F L CR is specifically designed as a long machine with a compact radius, perfectly suited to larger urban infrastructure projects where a big machine is needed in a tight space.

The Cat 335F also features a mini-excavator style blade on the front of the machine. Blades on larger machines are uncommon and this addition greatly expands the 335F’s versatility.

For the guts of the machine, Cat has opted for a Tier 4 149kW Cat C7.1 ACERT diesel, and the hydraulics are capable of a flow of 494 litres per minute.

Sumitomo SH330LC

Sumitomo SH330 LC excavator

The Japanese-made Sumitomo SH330 LC is a powerful digger featuring a 198kW Isuzu turbo-diesel.

"The big Sumitomo SH330 LC digger has all the comforts equal to any of the competitors in the similar class," Ron says.

"Seating and vision, well balanced, powerful, operator comfort and precise controls are some of the things that make the ‘Sumi’ a good choice."

Rongsheng Zhenyu ZY210SD4

Rongsheng Zhenyu ZY210SD4 floating excavator

This 40-tonner makes our list even though it has a bit of an unfair advantage – it floats on water. Known as an ‘amphibious’ excavator, these beasts are often used in environmental remediation sites like old mines.

Apart from the Zhenyu’s pontoon-esque tracks, the excavator has a 110kW 6-cylinder Isuzu diesel, with natural aspiration. This is important as it allows some level of moisture intake.

This types of machines can simply do things that other machines can’t and represent the future of heavy machinery. Areas and jobs previously deemed impossible are now ithin reach thanks to some forward thinking.

Kobelco SK350LC-8

Kobelco SK350LC excavator

Second-to-last on this list is the Kobelco SK350LC-8, a 35-tonne powerhouse running on a Tier 3 197kW six-cylinder Hino diesel.

The SK350LC-8 features Kobelco’s heavy duty boom and arm combo and a hydraulic pump Kobelco says has a 22 percent higher capacity. This results in a breakout force of 222kN at the bucket.

The cab on the SK350LC-8 has been designed with wide entry, excellent visibility and heaps of legroom for the operator. Kobelco says noise levels inside the pressurised cab have been reduced by 4dB.

Cat 328D LCR

CAT 328D LCR excavator

The Cat 328D LCR weighs in at about the 33-tonne mark and runs the ever-so-efficient Cat C7 Acert 204hp (152kw) turbo-diesel engine. An ECM (electronic control module) acts as the brains of the engine’s control system and responds quickly to operating variables to maximise engine efficiency.

"Fully integrated sensors in the engine’s fuel, air, coolant and exhaust systems are stored by the ECM and relay information on conditions such as RPM, fuel consumption and diagnostics," reviewer Ron Horner says.

"To keep up with the day’s long running you have a 400-litre fuel tank with 290 litres of hydraulic oil to ensure the hydraulic attachments have plenty of lubricant in reserve to keep temperatures down."

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