Spider excavators tackle more than mountains

Menzi Muck Spider excavator

Originally created for excavation on slopes, the versatility of the Menzi Muck line of spider excavators has allowed the machines to expand their scope on construction projects. 

At the Redwater, Alberta-based Evolution Mechanical, customers have selected spider excavators for various applications, from forestry to drilling to rail construction. 

“Everybody says ‘it’s so specialized,’ which is right. But it’s specialized in a lot of areas,” said Josh Caouette, President of Evolution Mechanical. “It’s a pretty diverse package when you look at it.”

Originally designed to work on the steep grades of the Alps, Swiss manufacturer Menzi Muck introduced their first spider, also known as a walking excavator, in 1966.

The machines move on four wheels connected to the undercarriage by legs. The legs allow the adjustment of track width and the height of the excavator. This ability to ‘walk’ allows the machine to travel over rough terrain or steep slopes. 

“The units are able to self-load and unload very quickly off the trailer,” Caouette said. “And it’s able to travel fairly easily, unlike a tracked excavator that travels quite slowly. It’s not a big deal for it to walk a kilometre or two.”

In Canada, Evolution Mechanical is the exclusive dealer for Menzi Muck. Founded in 2013 as a family-owned and operated business, Evolution Mechanical has grown from a single service truck to employing 50 people and opening a second location in Vernon, British Columbia. 

Caouette was introduced to the spider excavator line after seeing the machine on YouTube and became a dealer for the Menzi Muck eight years ago. 

“This partnership with Menzi Muck is not just about expanding our reach. It’s about joining forces with a company that shares our commitment to innovation and excellence Caouette said. “Together, we’re not just changing the landscape of excavators; we’re shaping the future of the Canadian equipment industry.”

Menzi Muck M545x spider excavator

The M545x is the largest machine in the lineup, and the machine has become the most popular Menzi Muck spider excavator sold by Evolution Mechanical. Introduced at bauma in 2019, the M545x weighs 13,500 kg and features a travel speed of 15 km per hour and a maximum lifting capacity of 9,800 kg.

“Everybody who’s bought one has bought more or is planning to. The feedback has been great,” Caouette said.

The spider excavator is equipped with claws and rams that extend beyond the tires, providing an unobstructed view of the job without impeding travel. Its versatility is further enhanced by the machine’s ability to steer in any configuration, making it ideal for work in challenging conditions. 

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The Anticipating Power Management (APM) controller ensures fast and harmonious interplay between the 154 hp Deutz 4-cylinder turbodiesel engine and hydraulics. 

As well, a separate powerline delivers 220 litres per minute of hydraulic flow for attachments. 

“The powerline allows you to run bigger attachments. It’s basically a tool carrier really,” Caouette said. “We put Wimmer rock drills on them and the unit can be turned into a self-contained drilling unit. We can even mount the compressor directly to the unit.”

The Menzi Powerboom allows the M545x to achieve the lifting force of 9,800 kg. The boom cylinder is positioned horizontally in the centre section of the excavator, which also eliminates collisions at the boom cylinder. 


Spider or walking excavator

The new P-Vation stabilizers provides automatic and symmetric stabilization of the spider excavator. Strategically arranged pivot points on the chassis ensures horizontal and vertical parallel adjustment of all wheels.

The M545x features 4-wheel, crab and front or rear axle steering. A maximum width wheel adjustment of more than 6 metres boosts stability and allows closer proximity to slopes. 

As well, the maximum 2.2 metres of ground clearance enables deployment in water or work on embankments. 

“I can’t quite hop our 10-foot chain-link fence, but just about. I tried,” Caouette said. “I’ve climbed on a sea can with one once.”