We can breakdown excavators by the character of the work they’re doing and by the work equipment.
A breakdown by work equipment:
Power Shovel Excavators – consists of a revolving deck with a power plant driving and controlling mechanisms, sometimes a counterweight, and a front attachment, such as a boom or crane, supporting a handle with a digger at the end. The whole mechanism is mounted on a base platform with tracks or wheels. Power shovels are used principally for excavation and removal of debris.
Backhoe Excavators – an excavation machine comprised of a standard tractor base that supports a digging bucket on the end of a jointed two-part arm. The opposite side of the backhoe will often have a front loader attachment (in which case the backhoe is technically called a “backhoe loader”), so the seat swivels 360 degrees to allow the operator to face whichever side is being used at the time.
Long reach excavators – not suitable for the high side twisting forces that can be exerted by demolition attachments and many demolition machines are unstable at large radius – so they are often assisted with electronic cut off devices that restrict the operating radius of the machine. Long reach machines are particularly useful in dredging operations. As its name suggests, a long reach excavator features a lengthier arm and boom sections. The design allows for better operation in hard-to-reach locations. The excavator’s extendable arm can reach over 100 feet horizontally.
Dragline excavators– 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.
Mini Excavators – a tracked or wheeled vehicle with an approximate operating weight from 0.7 to 8.5 tonnes. It generally includes a standard backfill blade and features independent boom swing. Mini excavators are tracked machines about the same size as a typical skid-steer but they serve a very different purpose. They include a heavy-duty arm that interfaces with a wide range of attachments (although most frequently shown with a bucket) and a mounted blade. To be considered a mini excavator, the machine will usually weigh less than 10,000 pounds, or 5 tons, although this rule is not strictly followed.
A breakdown by the character of work:
Non-stop working machines equipped in many buckets.
Working with breaks, only equipped in one bucket
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