Tiltrotators: Increasing the versatility of excavators


With labour costs on the rise, contractors are looking for other methods to make the most out of their crews. One tool that is proving effective for early adopters is the tiltrotator.

What can it do?

So, what exactly does the tiltrotator do that helps with efficiency so much? The attachment functions as a wrist between the arm of the excavator and bucket or any other tool connected to the quick coupler.

“Tiltrotators transform the excavator into a multi tool, which can perform many operations, increasing productivity upwards of 40-50 percent in some applications,” Audet says. “The ability to rotate and tilt eliminates the need to position or reposition the excavator. Being able to rotate the bucket (attachment) allows the operator to work closer in tight areas, place/position aggregate/stone with increased accuracy, backfill at lightning speed and contour/sculpt the area.”

Audet says that he mainly uses his tiltrotator for tasks such as digging foundations, backfilling small foundations, shaping berms and digging trenches. He says it’s more of a question of what can’t a tiltrotator do?

This ability to do almost anything helps free up Audet’s crews from hand digging tasks.

“I run two-man crews now,” Audet says. “I don’t have to have a third guy with them. I can have one guy running the machine and a ground guy, but (he’s) not really even helping him. It’s all seamless.”

Doyle’s jobs typically consist of drainage work, hardscaping projects and other landscape construction projects. He uses a tiltrotator primarily for tree work, using a grapple to feed the tree through the chipper, which makes tree removal much safer.

“It eliminates a lot of the handwork and it actually makes it a little bit safer,” Doyle says. “Guys aren’t standing right at the mouth of the chipper anymore. We’re able to just take a full tree and throw it right through the chipper.”

He also says there’s no loss in material now when scooping something out of a dump truck and backfilling trenches can be done with ease. He’s also able to dig left and right while sitting in one position.

“It eliminates me having to have a guy there with a rake or a shovel to move that material away from, say, a wall or another structure,” Doyle says. “I can completely do everything from one spot. It leaves us with minimal site damage because we’re keeping the machine in one place.”

These efficiencies add up over time and can result in getting jobs done quicker, allowing crews to focus on other tasks.

“On 90 percent of our jobs, it cuts out having an extra guy stand there with a shovel or a rake,” Doyle says. “That guy could be running and grabbing materials, for instance.” Tiltrotators are also well suited for tight areas where the machine isn’t level. “It doesn’t matter if the excavator is leaning, the tiltrotator holds the attachment at the angle you desire,”.

Efficiency can be increased even further by opting for an automatic quick coupler system.


What our clients say

End users Jake Audet, president of Audet Enterprises, and James Doyle, owner/operator of Innovative Lawn & Landscape LLC, say they first heard about tiltrotators through social media.

Audet saw the attachment being used on The Dirt Ninja Instagram account and now both Audet and Doyle are posting pictures of their own tiltrotators in action on social media.

“Once you use one, you kind of want everyone to have one,” Audet says. “Why wouldn’t you want to be more efficient? The whole point is to help everyone.”

Running a Cat 304E as well, Doyle went with a Steelwrist X04 tiltrotator, saying their build quality and customer service stood out to him compared to the other manufacturers.

“As far as customer service goes, they’re very down to earth, very easy to talk to,” Doyle says. “There’s definitely a personal connection, which made me a lot more comfortable choosing them. Price wasn’t really a factor there to be honest with you; I look at who’s going to be there when something breaks.”

Price versus productivity

A new tiltrotator is a premium investment but both Audet and Doyle say that it is well worth it. They agree that the attachment quickly pays for itself thanks to the productivity it provides.

“It’s a little shocking, but once you swallow the pill of how much it costs, the amount of money that it’s saved me in the long run means it has paid for itself in a year,” Audet says. “There’s jobs I wouldn’t even be able to do if I didn’t have it. I also can be aggressively bidding things knowing that I can do a job when other people are like, ‘Oh, that’s going to take me forever,’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah it’s going to take me a couple of hours.’”

Base list price for a Steelwrist tiltrotator for a compact excavator could range anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 with options like the gripper extra.

Doyle advises other landscapers interested in a tiltrotator to buy it through a dealer and have it installed on a new machine as a package deal in order to be as effective and efficient as possible. He spent around $50,000 for his tiltrotator package.

“It was kind of a no-brainer to me if we were buying it new to just not really worry about the price tag, to just work it every single day,” Doyle says. “So, the price tag really wasn’t a huge concern for me. It was at first, but then I realized I have to work this thing a day and a half a month to make the payment.”

For those curious about a tiltrotator, Doyle advises getting a demo. Fill out the form at the bottom of this page to request yours.

“As soon as you demo one, you’re not going to turn back,” Doyle says. “You’re going to want one and you’re going to find a way to do it, at least if you’re in it to win it like me. Once you use it once and you realize the nature of it and how efficient you can be.”

Look at this way, adds Audet: tiltrotators don’t cost money, they make money.

“I truly believe everyone should have one,” Audet says. “I mean, it’s kind of silly not to. If someone’s saying, ‘Hey, there’s a really efficient way of doing this and it’s going to cut down your time. Yes, you’re going to spend some money, but you’ll be able to do more work and make more money.’ Why wouldn’t you do that?”

Steelwrist Tiltrotators

Steelwrist Tiltrotators

Steelwrist offer a complete product offering for modern excavators. All sizes have Front Pin Lock technology. Our tiltrotators have a low building height, high tilt angle and an unbeatable relationship between strength and weight thanks to steel casted components.

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