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23rd Aug 2021

What are the different types of excavators?

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Hiring plant and equipment should be easy. But finding solutions that meet your needs can be a challenge sometimes, especially when it comes to excavators. This guide will explain what an excavator is, why you might use it, and which type you should choose for your purposes. 

What is an excavator?

An excavator is a machine designed for digging and removing earth. Usually, they have a bucket, rotating cab, articulated arm and tracks for moving forwards, backwards and side to side. 

Backhoes and excavators are not the same. Excavators are larger and meant for heavy duty tasks. 

Why use an excavator? 

Companies and contractors typically use excavators for removing dirt for foundations or landscaping. However, because they are so large and powerful, you can use them for other purposes too. These include mining, pile driving, building demolition and removing industrial rubble. 

Type of excavators

The type of excavator you choose depends on your project. Some are for digging, while others are for drilling. Check out the most common excavator types below: 

Skid steer excavators

Skid steer excavators have buckets and arms that retract around the driver’s cockpit. This feature gives these vehicles a better centre of gravity and allows them to navigate narrow spaces. Contractors often use them for residential work, digging pools and cleaning up sites once construction ends. 

Suction excavators

Most use a bucket, but suction excavators do things differently. First, drivers insert an arm into the ground fitted with rotating teeth. These teeth loosen debris and create a cavity. The excavator then floods the hole with water and applies a high-power vacuum to the mixture, sucking it up. Some suction excavators are exceptionally powerful, putting out more than 400 BHP at peak load. 

Suction excavation, however, comes with risks. Contractors typically use these excavators on soft ground to prevent internal wear and tear and damage to the cutting teeth. The best medium is soft soil with light stones. Using suction to drill through rubble is not recommended. 

Dragline excavators

These work using a hoist and a drag line instead of a conventional mechanical arm. The hoist rope attaches to a large bucket, allowing the driver to suspend it off the floor and move it to a new location by rotating the cabin. 

Dragline excavators are usually very heavy, so most contractors assemble them on site. You typically see them operating on large scale civil engineering projects

Crawler excavators

Crawlers are probably the excavator version you are most familiar with. These run on tracks and feature large excavation buckets with long teeth for digging into aggregate and soil.

Because of their stability, contractors typically use them on sloped terrain. They are ideal for working in hilly areas or situations where you are deliberately trying to create new topologies. 

Long reach excavators

Lastly, a long reach excavator are similar to the crawler but tend to be much larger. Some have arms that can reach out in front of the cabin by more than 100 feet.

At Easy Plant Hire, we offer high-quality plant and tools for long or short-term hire with or without an operator. Contact us today for more information.

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