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Excavators are incredibly popular machines that are commonly used in construction and other engineering professions. Many people are unaware, however, of the fact that there is more than one type available and that each is better suited to various applications. Although their shape, size or even functionality may differ, excavators tend to be used for similar purposes – heavy lifting, digging, mining and driving/dragging materials.

So, what are some of the different types on the market and what sets them apart from the rest?

  • Back Hoe
    This is the most common excavators currently in use. As its name suggests, it features a bucket (which functions as a hoe) that faces the operator. The bucket is attached to a boom and extracts soil by pulling it towards the operator before lifting it. This allows the operator to have a clear view of what they’re doing. The cab can easily rotate 360 degrees, which allows the soil to be moved or even loaded onto a dump truck with ease.

  • Dragline
    These excavators are much larger in size than their counterparts. As such, they are used in large-scale applications (such as on-surface mining and expansive civil engineering). They can be further separated into on-site and standard mobile draglines – the former are assembled and built onsite, whilst the latter tends to be slightly smaller in size. As both are quite large and can cause damage, they tend to be assembled onsite.

  • Suction
    Also known as vacuum excavators, they feature a suction pipe that carries away loose soil and debris (which has been cut using the sharp teeth at the edge of the pipe). A water jet is usually used to loosen the ground before excavation begins. They are generally used in delicate situations that require identification of underground elements.

  • Long Reach/Long Arm
    As their name suggests, these excavators feature long arm and boom sections – much longer than their counterparts. They are mostly used in destruction and demolition applications, from breaking down walls to procedural structural crumbling.

  • Crawler & Compact
    Crawler excavators have relatively high horsepower and are used in mining, as well as other heavy duty tasks. Compact ones, on the other hand, are more generic machines that are used to lift soil and debris using hydraulic power mechanisms.

  • Power Shovels
    Also known as stripping shovels or front shovels, these high-end excavators are used in sectional excavation work (such as mining and digging). They consist of a revolving device, a crane with a lifting arm and bucket, a counter weight and manoeuvring controls.

  • Mini
    Many of the types we have discussed here are also available in mini varieties, which means that they offer the same great features and functionality – just on a smaller scale. These sorts of excavators are often preferable when working in close quarters or when access is a problem, as they are able to manoeuvre much more easily in small spaces.

As you can see, there are several types of excavator on the market. Most of them have minor manufacture differences, even though their functionality is pretty much the same. Depending on your profession and the needs of your current worksite, there is sure to be an excavator that ticks all your boxes. Ensure that you have carefully considered each of the available options so that you have made the right choice from the get go.

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