Excavators lined up

The Various Types of Excavators and Their Applications

Lifting heavy soil at a construction site needs an excavator, which features an arm, bucket, free tracks, and a rotating cab. These components lend mobility and digging power that can make any function from breaking holes and padding to digging trenches easy, saving you a lot of time. Excavators are also used in road construction, mining, and demolitions.

One of the most commonly asked questions about digger hire is whether it is different from an excavator. The two are similar, but they vary in lifting capabilities and functionality. Excavators are as massive as 200,000 pounds with a full rotation. The most popular types include:


Crawlers do not rely on wheels to move, as they have endless tracks that help with their mobility. They are used in heavy-duty road constructions and are often referred to as compact machines. These rely on mechanisms for hydraulic power to lift soil and debris. They also have a wheel system that allows scaling hilly landscapes gradually and handling uneven terrain. Crawlers are slow, but they have excellent balance, stability, and flexibility.

Dragline excavators

This excavator is often larger than a crawler and relies on wheels to move. The machine has a hoisting system joined to the bucket using a coupler. The bucket’s side away from the coupler is joined with a dragline. The dragline connects the cab and the bucket. The hoisting rope is responsible for moving the bucket up and down, and the towline controls the side to side movements. As draglines tend to be heavy, they will be assembled on the work site. The uniqueness of this excavator makes it ideal for use in civil engineering jobs like dreading canals.

Suction excavators

Also called vacuum excavators, suctions have a suction pipe that lets air up to offer more than 400 horsepower. Suction excavators will release water jets that loosen the soil first. The tube has sharp-edged teeth that help create the vacuum that will carry debris and dirt at a speed of 200 miles in one hour. This excavator is used in risky underground applications because it can protect elements from damage.

Skid steers

These excavators come with buckets and booms that face the side opposite of the driver. Such orientation makes it possible for attachments to go above the cab as opposed to going around it. Consequently, the excavator can be used in narrow spaces and tricky turns. Skid steers will commonly be used in residential work, digging pools, and site cleaning projects.

Long reach excavators

man operating the excavator

These machines have long arms and long boom sections to reach far. The design is meant to serve locations that are difficult to reach. Most of these excavators have an arm that is extendable by up to 100 feet. They are best used in demolitions and over water applications.

The design of the excavator will make construction easy. Often, one may change elements like the arms or booms to change the application of the excavator. For instance, one can add arms to provide holding and digging functionalities. No matter what you choose to use, make sure that it’s the appropriate one for the job.

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