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Caterpillar excavators and Komatsu excavators are no doubt at the top of almost every buyer’s list for new or used excavators. But unless you’ve worked with both brands before, it can be a gruelling task deciding which to choose.

That’s why we’ve done some of the research for you. We’re talking top-level, general information for Caterpillar and Komatsu excavators. We’re not going into the specifics of their models, except for quick comparisons at the end. So keep this in mind as we mention benefits, considerations and other points in this article. The right one all depends on your own needs.

The best way to know which brand is best for you is to head to your local dealerships and try them out for yourself.

In this article (click to quick-jump):

Related: We pit the Komatsu PC200-8 against the Cat 320D L 

Benefits of Caterpillar Excavators

Caterpillar excavators

Source: Machines4U

There’s a reason Caterpillar dominate the construction industry. Most worksites are awash with the familiar yellow. Established in 1925, Caterpillar have decades of experience refining their machinery. Here are a few main benefits of Caterpillar excavators over Komatsu excavators.

  • Thanks to Cat’s long history, they are considered market leaders over Komatsu for excavators
  • Caterpillar excavators tend to have superior turning radiuses
  • Caterpillar mini excavators are almost half the size of Komatsu
  • For their larger excavators, Caterpillar provide better digging depth (up to 6.2 m) than Komatsu (up to 4.9 m)

Find Caterpillar excavators for sale.

Benefits of Komatsu Excavators

Komatsu Excavators

Source: Machines4U

Once not even on the same playing field, now Komatsu are nipping at Caterpillar’s heels as an industry leader in excavation and construction equipment. Founded in Japan in 1921, Komatsu have a few years on Caterpillar when it comes to manufacturing construction equipment. Let’s take a look at a few key benefits of Komatsu excavators.

  • Are generally cheaper to hire or buy
  • According to repair reports, Komatsu excavators require less repairs than Cat excavators
  • Komatsu’s ‘mini’ excavators provide more HP, however their mini excavators are more comparable to Cat’s ‘small’ excavators
  • Komatsu have a wider range of mining excavators

Find Komatsu excavators for sale.

Things To Consider For Caterpillar Excavators

Of course, no manufacturer is perfect and Caterpillar is always striving to improve their machinery, technology and service. In saying that, we’ve come across some things to consider:

  • Generally more pricey than Komatsu
  • Anecdotal evidence suggests Caterpillar machines require more repairs in recent years

Things to Consider for Komatsu Excavators

Similarly, Komatsu excavators (while greatly improved) still fall short in some aspects when compared to the beast that is Caterpillar. Here are a few things to note:

  • Some find replacing parts can be problematic
  • Mini excavators are much larger than Cat’s, which could be an issue if you’re looking for small, lightweight equipment
  • Komatsu only offer excavators in 3 categories: utility (1.8t – 10.3t), regular (13t – 90t) and mining (110t – 780t). Caterpillar provide excavators in 4 categories (mini, small, medium & large)

Related: We shine the spotlight on Komatsu’s PC200-8 excavator

Power & Performance

While both manufacturers offer over a dozen different excavator models, they do vary in power and performance. Especially around the smaller end of the excavator scale.

Excavator Operating Weight & HP Range Comparison

 

Caterpillar Komatsu
Mini Excavator Range Operating Weight: 985 – 5,185 kg

Net Horsepower: 13 – 40.2 hp

Operating Weight: 1,780 – 9,950 kg

Net Horsepower: 15 – 68hp

Small Excavator Range Operating Weight: 9000 – 19,200 kg

Net Horsepower: 75 – 200 hp

Operating Weight: 13,060  – 30,330 kg

Net Horsepower: 92 – 196 hp

 

Medium Excavator Range Operating Weight: 19,200 – 38,180 kg

Net Horsepower: 143 – 200 hp

Operating Weight: 14,700 – 36,490 kg

Net Horsepower: 250 – 257 hp

Large Excavator Range Operating Weight: 33,600 – 86,840 kg

Net Horsepower: 259 – 524  hp

Operating Weight: 46,090 – 79,900 kg

Net Horsepower: 345 – 487 hp

(Please note: Komatsu list their excavators in 3 categories. We have listed their excavator ranges based on HP to match Cat’s for comparison’s sake)


Komatsu Vs Cat Mini Excavators

Komatsu PC18MR-3 excavator

Let’s take a quick look at the smallest of the small: Caterpillar and Komatsu’s mini excavators.

Caterpillar 300.9 Komatsu PC18MR-3
Engine Yanmar 31NV70 Komatsu 3D67E-2
Net Power 13 HP 15 HP
Operating Weight 985 kg 1,780 kg
Max Digging Depth 1731 mm 2160 mm
Max Reach (Ground Level) 3023 mm 3935 mm

Caterpillar’s smallest excavator is the 300.9, weighing in at less than a tonne. It’s tiny frame includes a ROPS safety frame and it’s so small, there’s no room to include a cab. This mini excavator is ideal for those tight-access areas, thanks to its 730mm width.

Find Caterpillar mini excavators here.

While Komatsu’s smallest excavator, the PC18MR-3, comes in a little larger weighing around 1.7 tonne. This machine is still a solid choice for those smaller jobs, or if you need a more versatile excavator. Its undercarriage is expandable, its width expands to 1280 mm and reduces to just 990 mm.   

Find Komatsu mini excavators here.


Komatsu Vs Caterpillar Small Excavators

Cat 312E Small Excavator

Stepping it up to the 9-19 tonne range, we’re comparing the Caterpillar 312E to the Komatsu PC130-8.

Caterpillar 312E Komatsu  PC130-8
Engine CAT C4.4 ACERT Komatsu SAAD95LE-5
Net Power 91 HP 92 HP
Operating Weight 13,503 kg 13,060 kg
Max Digging Depth 5840 mm 5520 mm
Max Reach (Ground Level) 8430 mm 8170 mm

 

So even though the Cat is slightly heavier, these two excavators are fairly evenly matched otherwise, with Cat taking the lead in all specs except net power.

Explore small excavators here.


Komatsu Vs Cat Medium Excavators

Komatsu HB335LC large excavator

Stepping it up to medium excavators between 19 and 38 tonne, we have the Cat 336DL excavator and Komatsu HB335LC. While the Caterpillar is slightly bigger, these were the closest in operating weight we could find for this range.

Caterpillar 336DL Komatsu  HB335LC
Engine Cat C9.3B Komatsu SAA6D114E-5
Net Power 311 HP 253 HP
Operating Weight 37,200 kg 36,220 kg
Max Digging Depth 8200 mm 7380 mm
Max Reach (Ground Level) 11,730 mm 10,920 mm

Cat Vs Komatsu Large Excavators

Komatsu PC850SE 8EO

Now we’re getting to the bigger pieces of kit. While not quite mine-spec (we’ll throw that in below just to see how those stack up), these are the largest of the general construction excavators for both OEMs.

Caterpillar 390F Komatsu PC850SE-8E0
Engine Cat C18 ACERT Komatsu SAA6D140E-5
Net Power 524 HP 487 HP
Operating Weight 86,840 kg 79,900 kg
Max Digging Depth 7160 mm 7130 mm
Max Reach (Ground Level) 12,230 mm 11,945 mm

Cat Vs Komatsu Mining Excavators

Cat 6090 FS Mining Shovel

Source: Cat.com

So just because we’re curious—how does the biggest Caterpillar mining excavator (Cat calls them mining shovels) stack up against the biggest Komatsu mining excavator? Let’s find out:

Caterpillar 6090 FS Komatsu PC8000-6
Engine 2 x Cummins QSK60 2 x Komatsu SDA16V160E-2
Engine Output 4500 HP 4020 HP
Operating Weight 1102 tonnes 752 tonnes

Hopefully this article has helped shed some light on the main benefits and differences between Caterpillar and Komatsu excavators.

Have we missed something? Let us know in the comments below!

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