Maximizing Efficiency Pro Tips For Using Excavator Rentals

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Choosing the Right Excavator Rental

Renting the right equipment for a project may seem like an obvious first step; however, the impact it has on efficiency is often overlooked. In cases where you end up renting or buying smaller equipment than what your job requires, the production rate will immediately drop, and so will the construction process.  

Although some projects may call for specific tools or equipment, there are going to be times when the supplier does not have the necessary model in-store. When this happens, most project managers will consider opting for a smaller design that can still get the job done. The reasoning here is to avoid wasting any time waiting to order the right equipment.  

However, the issues with this reasoning are as follows:  

1. It’s short-sighted thinking

2. Often inaccurate 

3. Renting the wrong equipment does not help the project cycle time

4. Smaller equipment will take longer to complete the task

5. It negatively impacts operation speed 

While improving productivity seems like the best decision, it does not always provide long-term advantages. By getting the right equipment at the start—before breaking ground—it will be easier to hit the intended deadlines on time. Choosing the right equipment for the job has been proven to produce higher-quality work and increase the overall productivity rate.

Preparation and Site Readiness 

There are a few things that need to be considered before you begin preparing your site for work. Some include, but are not limited to the following:  

Site access: How will your team and the necessary equipment get to the site for preparation? Plan out where you will park the equipment, the location of surrounding infrastructure, and how deliveries will be handled when the time comes.

1. Safety: Assess the potential dangers on the site, and have a plan in place to manage safety protocols to keep the team protected.

2. Scheduling: To ensure time is used efficiently, have a designated team for each step of the preparation.  

3. A recommended timeline for site preparation involves four general steps:

Soil and geotechnical reporting 

During this reporting phase, tests are taken of the soil to ensure the correct foundation, slope, groundwater, and other decisions are made for the project. This helps align the actual site conditions to the recommendations and plans of the design, as well as construction teams.

Clearing and excavation 

The clearing process involves removing all vegetation and excavating the soil to make way for the setting of the foundation.


For stability, the soil beneath the foundation must be compacted to the right density before any construction can proceed. The extent to which compaction is required varies depending on the soil type and conditions.

Effective Operation Techniques

Use the right machine 

With so many options available, it can be difficult to know exactly which excavator is right for your project. The type of project you’re working on will determine the exact size and model of the excavator needed. Different equipment is required for excavation slopes or digging at an angle than dealing with mostly flat terrain.

Know the 70% rule—and follow it 

The 70% rule comes into play when you are working on a slope. While it usually is not a problem to excavate on a slope, anything over a 70% slope grade should be considered dangerous and recognized as the maximum working limit. A surveyor can help assess the steepness of a slope to determine whether it is safe to excavate or not.

Examine the conditions 

Given that the elements—such as rain, snow, ice, loose rocks, mud, etc.—can have a drastic impact on a site’s conditions, it’s best to avoid working when these elements are present. Wait for the bad conditions to pass before starting up again, keeping in mind you may need to clear the site again to improve the terrain’s stability.

Strategies for Productive Excavation

Positioning the Excavator 

The optimum setup for an excavator allows the operator to dig to the front or rear while dumping to the sides. Ideally, an excavator will sit on a larger platform, allowing for better stability underneath the machine.

Optimizing Digging Range 

Digging outside the range of your excavator stick—35 to 45 degrees from the vertical back to a vertical position—lowers efficiency, lengthens cycle times, and could cause instability.  

Ideally, the bucket should be filled by the time your stick returns to the vertical position. To optimize this, the operator should use the stick crowd force and bucket curl force to give the machine breakout power without burning through additional fuel.

Finding and Marking Utilities 

Calling the local One Call System in your region before beginning to dig is a legal requirement for a construction project and can save you both time, as well as money, down the line. The call should be made at least 48 hours before you plan to start digging, outlining where and when the excavation will happen. 

A local utilities representative will then be dispatched to the area to mark their facilities. Keep in mind that these markings are approximate, and operators should keep a tolerance zone between 18 and 36 inches to either side of the mark.

Optimizing Fuel Efficiency and Cost Management

Reduce Idle Times 

Data has shown that idling contributes to over 6 billion gallons of wasted gasoline and diesel combined, annually. In addition to increasing fuel costs, idling a machine for extended periods has the potential to wear out components, thus shortening the lifespan of the engine.  

Some recommendations for reducing idling are: 

1. Allow a maximum of five minutes for the engine to warm up. 

2. Limit shut-down time to two minutes for older equipment.

Keep equipment off during breaks.  

Available idling technology can help mitigate these issues further by reducing the engine’s revolutions per minute once a machine has been idle for some time.

Prioritize Maintenance 

Regular maintenance and equipment inspections are known to extend the lifespan of both the components as well as the overall machine. This can involve: 

• Adjusting belts to their proper tension

• Lubricating machines

• Adjusting track tensions

• Completing tire checks

• Sharpening cutting edge and teeth

• Frequent oil changes

Air filter changes  

As well, replacing machine fluids according to the maintenance schedule is an ideal solution for improving fuel efficiency. Ensuring your machines receive the proper fluid type and amount allows them to run more effectively, without risking damage or operational failure.

Provide Proper Training 

Integrated training programs have been proven to be effective in developing skilled operators who understand the importance of proper equipment use. These programs can involve teaching new—and experienced—operators how to: 

• Drive safely and responsibly

• Avoid sharp braking

• Avoid rapid acceleration

• Reduce excessive idling

• Limit or avoid speeding 

• Obtain good operating habits

• Become knowledgeable about fuel efficiency  

To improve the overall performance of your excavator rental, operators should be trained on the available features and how they impact fuel efficiency outcomes. Ongoing training throughout the project helps reinforce these behaviours, improving the overall performance across all job tasks.

Safety, Compliance, and Project Management

Conduct Thorough Equipment Inspections 

Before renting or purchasing any piece of construction equipment, you should always conduct a thorough inspection or ask a trained operator to do so. Confirming its safety and reliability is essential to guaranteeing effective performance of all equipment throughout the project. 

The inspection should include:  

• Reviewing all components (mechanical, electrical, and hydraulic systems). 

• Checking for signs of wear, damage, or malfunction.

• Checking for proper functionality of safety features, such as brakes, lights, alarms, and backup cameras.

• Inspecting the condition of tires, tracks, and other moving parts. 

• Identifying potential safety hazards and addressing them promptly.

Verify Equipment Compliance and Certification 

When renting or buying any construction equipment, it’s crucial to verify that the machinery meets the necessary compliance standards and has the required certifications. You should receive all confirmation before leaving the supplier with the equipment. These requirements include: 

• Equipment adherence to safety guidelines set by the regulatory bodies.

• Compliance labels, tags, or certificates indicate that the equipment has undergone proper testing and meets safety standards.

• Confirmation that the equipment is designed, manufactured, and maintained to operate safely, reducing the risk of accidents and legal liabilities.

How to Take Advantage of Excavator Rentals 

Renting equipment from a reputable supplier can mean the difference between completing a construction job efficiently or fumbling the project altogether. With the wide range of high-quality equipment available at your disposal, you want to ensure you receive the right equipment for the job. Do your research ahead of time and come prepared with a well-thought-out plan.

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