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Yanmar makes a song and dance about 55-year mini-excavator milestone

Staff Report,

25 Sept 2023

Company produces special jazz song with music video to mark production milestone, as it celebrates 55 years of mini-excavator production

Yanmar Compact Equipment is celebrating 55 years of its mini-excavator this year, marking a milestone in the path of one of the most successful lines of compact equipment from any manufacturer around the world.

The Japanese heavyweight of the lightweight equipment class was among the pioneers of the mini-excavator concept in the late 1960s and is still driving the sector forward, celebrating 55 years of innovation in the segment.

In an announcement to mark the 55-year milestone, Yanmar said: “While the Beatles song ‘Hey Jude’ was helping to launch the pop scene in Japanese culture, there was another social phenomenon going on in 1968 Japan. To try to keep up with the remarkable construction boom happening in the country, leading diesel engine manufacturer Yanmar had the brainwave of putting one of its engines into a scaled-down hydraulic excavator. The YNB300 was the result – a wheeled, self-propelled machine that went on to revolutionise the industry. And just like the Beatles, Yanmar CE’s mini-excavators are still proving a hit 55 years later.”

After its beginning in Japan, Yanmar is now firmly a global brand and one of the best-known exponents of compact equipment worldwide. And when it comes to compact equipment, one of the defining machines in the category is the mini-excavator, which is a prominent part of Yanmar’s line-up, along with compact wheeled loaders, tracked carriers and mini-dumpers, as well as plethora of attachments for compact machinery.

Among the most popular models of today in the Yanmar range is the ViO35 and the state-of-the-art all-electric SV17e, which are “the latest iterations of a long line of innovative mini-excavators that Yanmar CE has launched down the years”, said the company.

The company’s very first model – the YNB300 - was followed in 1972 by the YB600C, this time on tracks instead of on wheels. This model had a sliding boom that allowed it to excavate right up against walls. By 1974 Yanmar mini-excavators were fitted with cabins, and noise suppressed to allow them to work in confined spaces, residential areas and at night.

By the mid-1970s Yanmar Construction Equipment’s YB1200 set the basis for the modern mini-excavator. It had a water-cooled diesel engine, could rotate fully 360 degrees and was fitted with a blade for earthmoving operations.

The 1980s saw rubber tracks and sub-one-ton weights, while the 1990s saw the launch of the revolutionary ‘zero tail swing’ concept – which cut collisions and accidents while rotating the superstructure considerably.
“Since the turn of the millennium, Yanmar CE has been on a relentless drive for technical improvement.

Increasingly, this has gone together with sustainability and tackling environmental concerns, with ever lower emissions,” said the company while announcing the min-excavator landmark.

Among Yanmar’s practices that add to its green credentials is recycling. The company has paid extra attention to this aspect in the design and manufacture of its machines, with the result that now, the recyclability of Yanmar machines is in the high 90% - an impressive feat in the world of construction machinery and indeed in the entire engineering manufacture environment.

Safety, too, has been a big focus at Yanmar. This is evidenced by several features on the company’s mini-excavators, such as the quick coupler for attachments, which make attaching and detaching of various implements faster and automated, taking away the need to manually fix the attachments to the machine.

Compact excavators are more popular today than ever. The global shift from manual labour to mechanisation continues, as does rapid urbanization leading to ever tighter job-sites. This will ensure the popularity of mini-excavators continues into the future, said Yanmar in its statement, adding that its continues to work closely with customers to meet their needs and ensure their success.

Since producing its first mini-excavator, Yanmar has gone on to make records in the segments, such as last year, which saw the company exceed its all-time sales figures. But 55 years on, Yanmar is not just breaking records – it is also making records. Of the musical kind.

The company has gathered its ‘Yanmar Allstars’ of talented musicians – including Nagaya ‘Dezi’ Akihiro, head of Brand & Design at Yanmar, on the trumpet – to produce a specially written jazz song. Simply called ’55 years’, it is available on Spotify and on all major music platforms. Watch the video here:

Breaking records, making records, supporting customers. Today – just as back in 1968 – Yanmar CE is still following its motto of ‘Building With You’.


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