Designed to Dig: John Deere Excavators


The excavator has become a staple in the utility construction industry. From digging and backfilling to moving and placing pipe, it’s the go-to machine to get the job done. To pay homage to these hard-working pieces of iron and the companies that construct them, we’ve gathered the histories, product offerings and specs for the biggest names in the marketplace.

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Over the next 11 pages, learn all about the most popular excavator manufacturers in North America from Case and Caterpillar to Komatsu and Volvo. Compare specs of different models or simply discover the beginnings of a brand you love. There are even insights and advice from industry insiders to aid in purchasing decisions and maintenance matters. So grab a drink, sit back and dig in.

Pam Kleineke is Managing Editor of Utility Contractor.

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John Deere

Two Wheeled Units Round Out an Impressive Lineup of 13 Machines

John Deere manufactured its first excavator, the 690, in 1969. Today, the company’s offerings range from the D-Series to the newly updated G-Series. The full line of John Deere equipment starts with the compact 17D at 1.72 metric tons to the 870G LC, which weighs in at 87 metric tons. Responding to customer demand, the company has worked to improve the muscle, control and productivity in each new model.

Today, John Deere manufactures 17 excavator models weighing six metric tons or more. These models span from the 54-hp 75D to the aforementioned 532-hp 870G LC. The models most often used in utility work are the 75G, 85G, 130G, 135G, 160G LC, 180G LC, 190G W, 210G LC, 230G W, 245G LC, 250G LC and 300G LC. These highly versatile machines are packed with customer-driven features to bring maximum productivity to the jobsite with cool-running efficiency. Spacious cabs provide visibility, and low-effort joystick controls, metering and smooth multifunction operation provide the precision operators need.

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Product Spotlight: 190G W and 230G W

The new 190G W and 230G W wheeled excavators bring added mobility and maneuverability to the jobsite. Both models feature a 159-hp certified Tier 4 Interim Isuzu engine. This quiet, durable and reliable engine is mated to the John Deere Powerwise III hydraulic engine management system that offers three productivity modes: High Productivity, Power and Economy mode, as well as a Power Dig and Auto Power Lift function. High productivity mode delivers more power and faster hydraulic response to move a greater amount of material. Power mode delivers smooth and balanced metering for normal operation, and Economy mode reduces top speed and helps save fuel. For convenience, the Power Dig button allows an operator to get the extra hydraulic power to increase productivity.
Contractors can choose from a variety of boom, blade, outrigger and bucket options to equip their excavator exactly as needed to optimize setup. The G-Series short wheelbase makes them adept in close quarters — unlike truck-mounted excavators. For work close up, operators can opt for the two-piece boom. Contractors looking to get the most out of their John Deere excavators can rely on Ultimate Uptime featuring John Deere WorkSight. With Ultimate Uptime, operators receive pre-delivery and follow-up inspections, three years of JD Link telematics and much more.


“We’re seeing more and more contractors utilizing technologies like telematics with their machines,” says Mark Wall, Excavator Product Marketing Manager. “LCD monitors, navigation systems and monitoring tools are more prevalent than ever on today’s jobsite. In conjunction with support from your local dealer, contractors will learn how these technologies can increase productivity, uptime and lower daily operating costs.”

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