Zero Tail Swing Excavators (ZTS)- The Need to Knows

There is no doubt that if you are looking to hire an excavator, you will come across the abbreviation ZTS in your research. Zero tail swing excavators (ZTS) are just one of the many types of digging machines that are available on the market today. But what makes them different? Choosing the right type of excavator for your project has never been more important. With working to strict timescales as operators, we need to make every load cycle count. Machinery that offers far more flexibility saves you time, hassle and cost on your hire overall.

So how do zero tails wing excavators fit into the mix?

History of zero tail swing excavators.

Ever since the first original design of the first mass-produced excavator back in 1948, the production of excavators has risen to a point where manufacturers struggle to keep up with the demand.

The first zero tail swing excavator was introduced in 1993 by Japanese manufacturer Yanmar. Only to be replicated by most well-known manufacturers by the turn of the century. The big question is “why do people choose zero-tail swing excavators?”

Yanmar Original zero tail

Let’s now have a closer look at these machines as well as their benefits.

What are zero-tail swing excavators?

Zero tail swing excavators are one of a range of different types of machines that are available on the market. Unlike a conventional excavator, its upper body can turn within the radius of its tracks. Overall, making for a far more compact design.

Excavator designs like this are commonly used by utilities, construction and building companies to maximise their productivity in smaller spaces.

9T Excavator with zero tail swing

Benefits of zero tail swing excavators

The biggest asset that zero-tail swing excavators offer is their ability to work in more confined areas. Their ease of manoeuvrability reduces the chance of damage occurring to the excavator and other obstacles whilst in operation.

Zero tail swing excavators are ideal for most applications within the civil engineering, utilities, construction, and landscaping industries.

Things to consider with using a zero-tail swing excavator?

If you are considering hiring a zero tail excavator then there are a few things that you might want to take note of first.

Type of project you are undertaking

As you will find later in this resource, zero tail swing excavators currently have only been manufactured to a certain size. Therefore, do not compromise if you have room to use a larger conventional tail swing machine. Larger machines have greater loading capacities making for more effective loading cycles.

Lifting capabilities 

Matching the correct attachment size and weight is extremely important with the use of zero-tail swing excavators. As the counterweight of the machine sits closer to its pivoting centre, it directly impacts its lifting capabilities. Expect around a 10% reduction in lifting capabilities when choosing a zero-tail swing excavator. Despite this, you can argue that their additional manoeuvrability allows you to speed up loading cycles, especially in tight spaces.

Popular zero tail swing excavator brands


This UK-based business is globally recognised for its famous yellow machinery. Established back in 1948, JCB pushes the boundaries of innovation. Most recently constructed the first hydrogen-powered prototype plant machinery. JCB manufactures zero tail swing excavators ranging from 1.8T up to 9T in weight, accompanied by the last technology to maximise productivity. Their brand, quality of machinery and after-service, holds them in high regard as market leaders.


Originally established back in 1890 in Japan, Kubota began as a corporation that manufactured cast-iron pipes. It was not until 1979 when they established their UK base out of Thame, Oxfordshire, where they stretched into producing machinery. Since the design of the first true four-wheeled drive compact tractor, Kubota has continued to grow. They now claim to manufacture “The UK’s & ROI’s best-selling mini excavator” Kubota manufactures from Micro-5T in size.

Cost of a zero tail swing excavator to hire

The hire cost of a zero-tail swing excavator is dependant on the size of the machine you require. Generally, the larger machine, the more expensive it will. However, this depends on where you source your machinery from.

Some suppliers will label zero-tailed excavators as specialised machinery, therefore increasing the premium. However, with the constant development of technology and machinery, companies that operate a young fleet will offer very competitive prices against conventional-sized machines.

Micro excavators with a zero tail swing feature attract a cost starting around £75.00 +VAT per day. For the latest rates of a zero-tail swing excavator, you should always contact your supplier.

Checklist for choosing the right size excavator

If you want to get more out of your excavator hire, feel free to see our “guide to choosing hiring the right size digger” resource here.

Following this, you can use this checklist for choosing the right size excavator:

  • What are you using the machine for?
  • Is there a maximum ground pressure you require?
  • What reach do you need on your excavator?
  • Are there any emissions requirements you need? EG stage V engines etc.
  • The buckets that you require?
  • Your budget?
  • Is there a deadline?

By answering all these questions, you will have a better understanding of what size and type of excavator you will need. Remember that investing in a slightly larger machine will speed up your productivity overall. Larger load capacities can lead to more being done in less time. However, there is no need to blow your entire budget.

You can also use the benefits of zero-tail swing excavators to your advantage. A great example is if you have a large amount of earth to move in a tighter space, using a ZTS excavator can further increase your productivity.

Where to hire a zero-tail swing excavator in Chipping Norton.

whc hire services depot

WHC Hire Services has been providing the latest and most advanced equipment to civil engineers, construction companies, utilities, the agricultural sector, landscapers and more for over 20 years. . Our Chipping Norton, Tewkesbury and Worcester depots all offer a wide range of zero-tailed excavators. See our online catalogue here, or call our Chipping Norton depot today on 01608644227.

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