Earthmoving equipment is heavy equipment, typically heavy-duty vehicles designed for construction operations which involve earthworks. They are used to move large amounts of earth, to dig foundations for landscaping and so on. Earthmoving equipment may also be referred to as; heavy trucks, heavy machines, construction equipment, engineering equipment, heavy vehicles and heavy hydraulics. Most earthmoving equipment uses hydraulic drives as the primary source of motion.
There are various types of earthmoving equipments used in construction, few of the pivotal ones are described below.
Excavators are heavy construction equipment consisting of a boom, dipper (or stick), bucket and cab on a rotating platform known as the “house”. The house sits atop an undercarriage with tracks or wheels. They are a natural progression from the steam shovels and often mistakenly called power shovels. All movement and functions of a hydraulic excavator are accomplished through the use of hydraulic fluid, with hydraulic cylinders and hydraulic motors. Due to the linear actuation of hydraulic cylinders, their mode of operation is fundamentally different from cable-operated excavators which use winches and steel ropes to accomplish the movements.
A backhoe loader, also called a loader backhoe, digger in layman’s terms, or colloquially shortened to backhoe within the industry, is a heavy equipment vehicle that consists of a tractor-like unit fitted with a loader-style shovel/bucket on the front and a backhoe on the back. Due to its (relatively) small size and versatility, backhoe loaders are very common in urban engineering and small construction projects (such as building a small house, fixing urban roads, etc.) as well as developing countries. This type of machine is similar to and derived from what is now known as a TLB (Tractor-Loader-Backhoe), which is to say, an agricultural tractor fitted with a front loader and rear backhoe attachment.
A bulldozer is a tractor equipped with a substantial metal plate (known as a blade) used to push large quantities of soil, sand, rubble, or other such material during construction or conversion work and typically equipped at the rear with a claw-like device (known as a ripper) to loosen densely compacted materials. It is usually a crawler (continuous tracked) tractor. Bulldozers can be found on a wide range of sites, mines and quarries, military bases, heavy industry factories, engineering projects and farms.
A skid loader is a small, rigid-frame, engine-powered machine with lift arms used to attach a wide variety of labor-saving tools or attachments. Skid-steer loaders are typically four-wheel vehicles with the wheels mechanically locked in synchronization on each side, and where the left-side drive wheels can be driven independently of the right-side drive wheels. The wheels typically have no separate steering mechanism and hold a fixed straight alignment on the body of the machine. Turning is accomplished by differential steering, in which the left and right wheel pairs are operated at different speeds, and the machine turns by skidding or dragging its fixed-orientation wheels across the ground. The extremely rigid frame and strong wheel bearings prevent the torsional forces caused by this dragging motion from damaging the machine.
A motor grader, is a construction machine with a long blade used to create a flat surface during the grading process. Although the earliest models were towed behind horses or other powered equipment, most modern graders contain an engine, so are known, technically erroneously, as “motor graders”. Typical models have three axles, with the engine and cab situated above the rear axles at one end of the vehicle and a third axle at the front end of the vehicle, with the blade in between. Most motor graders drive the rear axles in tandem, but some also add front wheel drive to improve grading capability. Many graders also have optional attachments for the rear of the machine which can be ripper, scarifier, blade, or compactor.
A trencher is a piece of construction equipment used to dig trenches, especially for laying pipes or electrical cables, for installing drainage, or in preparation for trench warfare. Trenchers may range in size from walk-behind models, to attachments for a skid loader or tractor, to very heavy tracked heavy equipment.
A loader is a heavy equipment machine used in construction to move aside or load materials such as asphalt, demolition debris, dirt, snow, feed, gravel, logs, raw minerals, recycled material, rock, sand, woodchips, etc. into or onto another type of machinery (such as a dump truck, conveyor belt, feed-hopper, or railroad car). There are many types of loader, which, depending on design and application, are called by various names, including bucket loader, front loader, front-end loader, payloader, scoop, shovel, skip loader, wheel loader, or skid-steer.
A wheel tractor-scraper is a piece of heavy equipment used for earthmoving. The rear part of the scraper has a vertically moveable hopper with a sharp horizontal front edge which can be raised or lowered. The front edge cuts into the soil, like a carpenter’s plane cutting wood, and fills the hopper. When the hopper is full it is raised, closed, and the scraper can transport its load to the fill area where it is dumped. With a type called an ‘elevating scraper’ a conveyor belt moves material from the cutting edge into the hopper.
A dragline excavator is a piece of heavy equipment used in civil engineering and surface mining. Draglines fall into two broad categories: those that are based on standard, lifting cranes, and the heavy units which have to be built on-site. Most crawler cranes, with an added winch drum on the front, can act as a dragline. These units (like other cranes) are designed to be dismantled and transported over the road on flatbed trailers. Draglines used in civil engineering are almost always of this smaller, crane type. These are used for road, port construction, pond and canal dredging, and as pile driving rigs.
A paver (paver finisher, asphalt finisher, paving machine) is a piece of construction equipment used to lay asphalt on roads, bridges, parking lots and other such places. It lays the asphalt flat and provides minor compaction before it is compacted by a roller.
A compactor is a machine or mechanism used to reduce the size of material such as waste material or biomass through compaction. A trash compactor is often used by a home or business to reduce the volume of trash it produces. A baler-wrapper compactor is often used for making compact and wrapped bales in order to improve logistics. Normally powered by hydraulics, compactors take many shapes and sizes. In landfill sites for example, a large tractor (typically a converted front end loader with some variant of a bulldozer blade attached) with spiked steel wheels called a landfill compactor is used to drive over waste deposited by waste collection vehicles (WCVs).
The telehandler (telescopic handler) has a boom that is configured to accept an attachment coupler. Telehandler capability ranges from models with a lifting capacity of 6,000 pounds and a lift height of 20 feet, to models that might lift in excess of 20,000 pounds to 100 feet.The appeal of the telehandler extends beyond its ability as a rough-terrain forklift; its can work with such tools as loose-material buckets, pipe clamps, truss booms, augers, grapples, and brooms.
Feller buncher is a type of harvester used in logging. It is a motorized vehicle with an attachment that can rapidly gather and cut a tree before felling it. Feller is a traditional name for someone who cuts down trees, and bunching is the skidding and assembly of two or more trees. A feller buncher performs both of these harvesting functions and consists of a standard heavy equipment base with a tree-grabbing device furnished with a chain-saw, circular saw or a shear—a pinching device designed to cut small trees off at the base. The machine then places the cut tree on a stack suitable for a skidder, forwarder, or yarder for transport to further processing such as delimbing, bucking, loading, or chipping.
A dump truck, known also as a dumper truck or tipper truck, is used for taking dumps (such as sand, gravel, or demolition waste) for construction as well as coal. A typical dump truck is equipped with an open-box bed, which is hinged at the rear and equipped with hydraulic rams to lift the front, allowing the material in the bed to be deposited (“dumped”) on the ground behind the truck at the site of delivery.
A pile driver is a device used to drive piles into soil to provide foundation support for buildings or other structures. The term is also used in reference to members of the construction crew that work with pile-driving rigs. A pile driver uses a weight placed between guides so that it can slide vertically. It is placed above a pile. The weight is raised, which may involve the use of hydraulics, steam, diesel, or manual labour. When the weight reaches its highest point it is released, and hits the pile, driving it into the ground.
Crawled loaders are machines with a tracked chassis and a loader that can be used for digging and moving/loading materials. They are a versatile component of any fleet, able to perform many tasks. These days, loaders are most often needed to move heavy materials on a construction site. They are well-suited for moving wood chips, sand, rock and recycled materials. Crawler loaders move on tracks, which can be manufactured using different materials and a varying number of grousers to make them capable of maneuvering various surfaces. Hydrostatic drives simplify the operation of the machines.