A tracked excavator that can be deployed quickly and easily anywhere on the farm to tackle burst pipes or blocked drains, install water supply pipes or prepare ground for building works features on JCB’s SIMA show stand for the first time.

The 1.7 tonne JCB 18Z-1 is a new addition to the comprehensive range of mini excavators manufactured by JCB. Like its counterparts, the machine is small enough to work in and around traditional as well as modern farm buildings and light enough to be transported on a trailer by a pick-up truck or any 4×4 vehicle with at least 3.5 tonne towing capability.

As such, it provides a ‘rapid response’ solution for problems such as blocked field drains or ditches, as well as providing mechanical muscle for small land clearance projects, fencing and various groundworks in and around farm buildings.

The newcomer is part of JCB’s next-generation excavator range, which unusually in this class, have all-steel bodywork to fully protect components from accidental knocks, and also a choice of safety frame or fully enclosed cab for most models.

The JCB 18Z-1 shares a number of features with all other models in the line-up, including its 11.7kW (15.6hp) diesel engine and graphite-impregnated bushes for all front-end pins – these require greasing only every 500 hours so minimise downtime and lifetime ownership costs.

The new machine has a 32-litre/min piston pump hydraulics package and 1.57m steel or rubber track undercarriage, with adjustable spacing for maximum stability in work and minimum overall width of 980mm for access and transport – features its shares with the 1.6 tonne 16C-1 and 1.8 tonne 19C-1.

However, as a zero tail-swing design, the new 18Z-1 is specifically built to access and work in very confined spaces or alongside walls and fences, having a counter-weight design that trims 418mm off the tail-swing radius for really close-in working.

The JCB 18Z-1 has a choice of 950mm and 1100mm dippers, which provide maximum digging depths of 2.42m and 2.57m, respectively, and ground level reach of 3.83m and 3.98m.

The 20.5 litre fuel tank enables the machine to work longer between refills but its ultra-compact dimensions mean it is available only with a canopied open operator platform when all the other models can have a fully-glazed cab.

The operator is provided with twin joystick controls, each with a wrist-rest, in an arrangement that will be familiar to users of JCB’s telehandlers, skid steers and wheeled loaders. To save time, the slew and digging controls can be used while the two-speed lever-operated traction drive moves the digger from one position to the next.

For safety, all controls are isolated unless activated by pressing JCB’s unique 2GO button, while JCB LiveLink telematics – as installed on all JCB agricultural machines – provides useful operational data, fault-warning and service scheduling alerts, as well as programmable geo-fence and curfew restrictions to discourage theft and unauthorised use.