Excavating is an essential part of several jobs and industries. You may need to dig down into a specific area, move large amounts of dirt or other materials, or carry out any number of tasks. So many jobs would be made that much harder without an excavator, but what actually is an excavator, and how many tasks can one be used for?
Read on to discover all you need to know about excavators, their different names and sizes, and which one you might need to accomplish various jobs…
What is an excavator used for?
An excavator is a machine that consists of a bucket, a dipper, a boom, and a cab where the driver can sit and control the excavator’s actions. This upper structure then sits on a rotating platform known as a house, which in turn sits on the large undercarriage complete with huge tracks for moving about.
As excavators can be used in all kinds of conditions, they need to be sturdy and yet manoeuvrable at the same time. Excavators come in a range of sizes, with smaller excavators able to be moved to where you need them with ease using an excavator trailer. Larger ones may be trickier to transport, but their big tracks make it easier than it would be with smaller tracks or wheels.
Some of the jobs that excavators can do include:
- Digging trenches
- Digging foundations
- Digging holes
- Handling materials
- Forestry work
- Lifting tasks
- Carrying tasks
- Demolition with the right attachments
- Cutting with the right attachments
- River dredging and more.
What is a small excavator called?
Excavators have many names, some of which are the names of particular companies or brands that are their property like JCBs. You can also call an excavator a digger, a mechanical shovel, a 360, or a 360 digger. There are also different names that you can use depending on the size and purpose of your excavator.
A small excavator can often be called a mini excavator, a micro excavator, or even a compact excavator. It can be important to differentiate these smaller, more compact excavators from their much larger brethren. Some jobs may be more suited to a behemoth of an excavator that can move as much dirt as possible, or go as deep as you need.
Other tasks may be more suited to a smaller excavator, which can fit into less space, navigate between obstacles, and be transported more easily. You might want to use a mini excavator to demolish one part of a house, for instance, before rebuilding and giving it a new finish. Other jobs that a micro excavator is ideal for include:
- Digging pools or hot tubs
- Tree installation
- Tree removal
- Demolishing small structures
- Snow removal
- Digging small foundations
Small excavators are at the bottom of the scale for these machines, tending to weigh around 7 tonnes, and not much more than 10. You can also find mid-size excavators and large and impressive ones.
What is a large excavator called?
Large excavators can also be called dragline excavators. These tend not only to be much larger than mini excavators but also can have extra attachments and pieces that allow them to carry out bigger tasks. For example, your dragline excavator could be used on a commercial construction site to carry large amounts of materials and to dig deep and wide foundations rather quickly.
Dragline excavators use a hoist rope and dragline system to carry out many of the bigger tasks you might need to do. Often, larger jobs require a larger excavator, and this can mean work in industries such as roadworks, construction, sewage works, and more.
Some of the main jobs that you would need a large excavator include:
- Digging holes – yes, all excavators are good at this. It is why they are named the way they are. But bigger excavators mean bigger holes, achieved at a quicker pace than a smaller excavator could achieve.
- Digging mines – likewise, with a large-scale mining operation, you may need a large digger for certain jobs, while others may require the finesse and manoeuvrability of a smaller excavator.
- Digging foundations – housing projects, and especially huge undertakings like skyscrapers, shopping malls, sports arenas, and more, all require large excavators to get their foundations dug in the right way, quickly, and efficiently.
- Landscaping – Large excavators have the size to quite literally shape landscapes, changing the face of large areas by moving dirt, restructuring, and grading.
- Material handling and lifting – It goes without saying that the bigger your excavator, the more you can lift at a time. You can move or transport larger amounts of materials on a building site, in an industrial area, or in a mine with a larger excavator than a mini one.
- Forestry – Brush cutting is one job that larger excavators often are used to accomplish, especially with the right added attachments. You can carry out any number of big forestry jobs using a large excavator in a variety of ways.
Large excavators can weigh as much as 80 tonnes and more, a dramatic increase on their mini excavator relations. Excavators can be broken up into several different classes, as well as the two mentioned here. The most common distinctions given are:
- Mini excavators
- Medium excavators
- Large excavators
- Demolition excavators
- Long-reach excavators
- And wheeled excavators
Excavators can come in many different classifications. You can use a large excavator for big industrial or commercial work, or opt for a mini excavator for all your smaller jobs. With excavators, the rule certainly is not the bigger, the better. The goal is to choose the right excavator for the job.
You don’t want a micro excavator working for days to dig a foundation that a large one could have finished in a fraction of the time. And you don’t want to struggle to get a large excavator in place to demolish a small structure or dig out a hot tub. Especially when you could have easily transported a mini excavator using an excavator trailer.
Think about the kind of excavator you actually need, and remember, these incredibly useful machines are also far more versatile and adaptable than you might think.