Solutions To Common Problems For An Entry-Level Excavator Operator

Excavator operators play a pivotal role in a vast number of construction tasks, therefore, starting out on the right foot can be exciting yet challenging. An entry-level excavator operator can face numerous hurdles from obtaining equipment to mastering controls. In this exclusive guide, we are going to highlight all the common problems that many will face, along with a range of solutions to help. With over 25 years of experience providing excavators of all sizes, WHC Hire Services is here to help you get started on the right foot. Let’s get started!

Obtaining equipment

An entry-level excavator operator may have issues with obtaining equipment when they first set out. This can be rather stressful and inconvenient, no matter which avenue you choose to go down. Let’s have a look at the most common problems you are likely to face:

Problems of obtaining equipment

Considerations to ask about mini diggers

High-cost purchasing

The largest asset you are ever going to purchase is your own excavator, but the truth is not everyone can do so. The high-cost purchasing price of excavators is ever-increasing making it almost impossible for newcomers to obtain them without financial backing. Even second-hand machinery can be costly.

Finding a reputable excavator rental provider

Finding a reputable excavator rental provider can be a challenging task for all start-ups. With so many different companies to choose from, it is difficult to know where to start. It is vital to note that not every service is the same, making the whole process tricky.

Choosing the correct excavator size/ model

Selecting the correct size and model of excavator presents its own set of challenges. It’s crucial to match your machinery to the specific type of work you’ll be undertaking. Poor equipment choices can result in frequent breakdowns and costly repairs.

Solutions to obtaining equipment for entry-level excavator operators

High-cost purchasing equipment solution

If you’re just starting out, securing the necessary equipment is crucial to get your operations underway. While excavators can be very expensive for new operators, finance options are available if you decide that owning an excavator is the best choice for your business. However, it’s important to note that some new businesses may find it challenging to obtain credit initially.

Finding a reputable rental provider solution

The solution for finding a reputable supplier is simple enough provided you are prepared to do your homework. Check out online review platforms, speak to other customers, inspect the machinery and see if their offer suits your needs. It is worth reviewing the entire proposal as a whole. Including alternative excavator sizes, attachments or other machinery you can source from the same supplier. For more information on how to choose the right equipment company near meRead this article.

Choosing the correct excavator size/ model solution

Choosing the right excavator size and model comes down to your application. It is vital that the machine you select can conduct all the tasks you require it to complete. Working closely with a plant hire supplier can help you establish the correct machine for the job. Important information you should bear in mind is weight, dig depth, lift capacity and general dimensions. For more information on how to choose the right excavator for the jobcheck out this resource!

Transporting diggers

Mini digger on trailer

Now that we’ve given you some idyllic solutions to tackle the issue of obtaining equipment. Let’s have a close look at the next issue that presents itself, which is transport. Transporting excavators can get far more complex than you might first think. This is often governed by the overall weight of the machinery. Here’s why:

Problems with transporting diggers for an entry-level excavator operator

Legal challenges

The chances are that not all entry-level operators can transport every type of excavator that is available on the market. For anything over a gross weight of 3.5T (UK), you are required to have a Class 1 or 2 HGV licence. (Machine size dependent).

Cost of transport

Most machinery, in particular excavators, can pose a huge cost to transport, especially when you might need to invest in your own machinery to do so. HGVs can set you back tens of thousands of pounds to even just get started.

Damaging the equipment in transport

Preventing damage to machinery during transport is crucial. Ensuring that your equipment arrives in perfect condition is essential to avoid any delays when starting a new project.

Solutions to transporting diggers for an entry-level excavator operator

Solutions to legal challenges

Hire an experienced transport company to take over the logistics of the equipment. Whether you are renting or moving your own, having a qualified team on hand can help avoid any of the legal headaches.

The solution to the cost of transport

Investing in the equipment to move large machinery can be very costly. Instructing a plant hire or logistics company to handle the movement, can save thousands of pounds in investing in the correct licences and equipment to do yourself.

Solutions to damaging equipment in transport

 It is essential that no matter which direction you take in terms of transporting your machinery, you must ensure it is secured correctly to guarantee safe delivery. If you are ever unsure, use a professional service to help.

Operating the equipment

Large excavator grading

Now that you have successfully got your machinery to site, the next common problem that many entry-level operators have is with mastering the controls. Remember, no two pieces of machinery are the same. Something to bear in mind if you are renting equipment. Nevertheless, let’s have a close look at the potential problems you may come across:

Mastering controls

Less experienced operators often struggle to master excavator controls in a short period. Getting up to speed with your machinery is essential to being able to meet your project’s timeline. Remember that even though most excavators will operate the same, there are many variations in designs.

Safety risks

Inexperience can lead to potential safety risks. It is essential that you feel competent to operate an excavator safely. You are not required to hold an operator’s licence to hire one of these machines in the UK. Nevertheless, you should always adhere to the safety information that is provided with the equipment.


Less experienced operators will take longer to complete excavating tasks. This can lead to further complications such as overspending and poor time management. It is crucial that you remind yourself that the addition of an excavator is supposed to be an asset, not a hindrance.

Solutions to operating the equipment

Mastering controls solution

Mastering the controls of an excavator can take years to perfect. Nevertheless, getting yourself up to speed with how it operates is vital. Gaining hands-on experience will firstly step you in the right direction. Followed by an NPORS 360 excavator training course. Training like this will also open up further avenues for business in the future.

Safety risks solution

Whenever you are using a piece of machinery, your safety is always paramount. We’d highly advise that you adhere to the safety information that is found in the operator’s manual on the excavator. For more information on safety risks and how to limit them, check out this additional resource- click here.

Inefficiency solution

There is no avoidance of inefficiency without experience and training. Nevertheless, before starting to use your equipment, you can save time by upskilling yourself with excavator operation tips. Below is an example video that is available with all WHC Hire excavators:

Maintaining Equipment

The manor that you maintain your machinery will be reflected in the quality of your outcome. Well-maintained equipment always looks after its operators, reducing the chance of breakdowns and any nasty accidents occurring. In this section, we are going to highlight the common problems and solutions in maintaining earthmoving equipment by an entry-level excavator operator.

Frequent breakdowns

Inexperience and a lack of regular maintenance can lead to unwanted mechanical breakdown of your excavator. Which, unfortunately, can lead to some hefty repair costs. This can have a huge effect on your business profits and efficiency.

Lack of knowledge

Not every operator will have experience in repairing or maintaining equipment like an excavator. This can lead to a machine being out of action until a manufacturer or supplier can attend.

No replacement machinery

When your machine is down how do you move forward? Poor maintenance can lead to projects overrunning and clients becoming unsettled and stressed.

Solutions to problems with maintaining equipment for entry-level operators

Following maintenance schedule

By following the maintenance schedule for your equipment, you should be able to avoid any nasty surprises. This is unless your machinery becomes damaged. The service intervals for your excavator should be found in the operator’s manual.

Conduct daily inspections

Performing daily checks on your equipment is essential. Not only does this ensure that the machinery is ready for use, but it also enhances your safety. We strongly advise against operating an excavator that is damaged or fails a daily inspection, as this could compromise your safety. Below is an example video outlining the key elements to inspect during your daily checks:

Work with a plant hire supplier

Having a team of experts to rely on when things go wrong is essential. By choosing to hire machinery, you can wave goodbye to all the maintenance concerns with an excavator. This will all be outlined in the hired contract you make with them. Don’t forget each rental company will have its own unique service.

How Reputable Plant Hire Companies Can Alleviate These Problems

Reputable plant hire companies, like WHC Hire Services, can significantly alleviate the challenges faced by entry-level excavator operators. Here’s how:

  1. Access to a Wide Range of Equipment: Plant hire services offer a variety of well-maintained excavators, offering operators the flexibility to choose the right equipment for their tasks.
  2. Support: Many plant hire services supply additional support around machinery operating, so you won’t be stranded. Additionally, most suppliers will work closely with training providers, so getting a recommendation on who to trust will be seamless. WHC Hire Services highly recommends training from Vally Plant Training.
  3. Maintenance and Repair Services: Regular documented maintenance services from plant hire companies ensure equipment remains in top condition. This reduces downtime and avoids costly repairs that operators incur when owning their own machines.
  4. Flexible Hire Plans: Plant hire businesses offer flexible rental options, including short-term and long-term hires, making it easier for operators to manage costs and access necessary equipment.
  5. Guidance:  Many professional outfits have been in the industry for some time. This means they can provide valuable advice on selecting the right equipment, operating it safely, and managing job site challenges, helping entry-level operators gain confidence and expertise.
  6. Transport Legal and Logistical Challenges: Plant hire companies handle permits, documentation, and transportation logistics, ensuring compliance with regulations and safe delivery of equipment.


WHC Hire

Embarking on a career as an excavator operator is a thrilling yet challenging journey, but you don’t have to face it alone. With the right support and resources, you can overcome most obstacles when starting out. Award-winning professional plant hire companies like WHC Hire Services are dedicated to empowering entry-level operators. Because just like you, we’re self-starters too!

Our diverse range of well-maintained excavators and flexible hire plans are designed to meet your unique needs and budget, ensuring you have everything you need to start on the right foot. But don’t just take our word for it—come and see the quality of our machinery for yourself.

See our wide range of excavators available to hire on our online catalogue, visit your local depot to see our world-class machinery first-hand, or book your hire today. 01684377977

Your success is our passion, and we are here to help you get the job done.

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