Excavators are an essential machine used in most types of construction and site preparation that involves any kind of earthwork.
These machines, consisting of a long arm with a clawed bucket at the end and which maneuver typically on tracks, make digging holes and trenches fast and easy.
Used today by contracting companies to perform many different tasks thanks to the availability of different attachments, excavators are versatile, powerful equipment that has come a long way since the first of their kind.
From Cables to Hydraulics
The first excavators used for digging were invented in the late 1700s and called steam shovels, as they were run by steam engines.
Equipped with a series of chains, cables, and pulleys, the powerful arms and buckets were maneuvered by rolling in or letting out specific cables to extend the shovel, then dig with it and move it as needed.
It wasn’t until nearly 100 years later that hydraulic power was invented and this technology was then passed on to the heavy equipment of the time, including excavation machines.
Though it had its problems, steam-powered hydraulic heavy equipment used by construction services of the day was more versatile and easier to use.
Cabled excavators do still exist today, but hydraulic machines powered by fuel engines and electricity are more popular and more plentiful.
Many Different Types of Excavators
Today, excavators come in many shapes, sizes, and capacities, making them useful for a long list of jobs at any construction site.
Among them, the following types of excavation machines can be found being used by construction companies everywhere:
- Crawler and Wheeled Excavators - The basic excavation machine that is used by every construction crew, consisting of a long, controllable arm with a digging bucket, usually on tracks but sometimes on large wheels and tires.
- Mini Excavator - A miniature version of its larger brother, mini excavators are perfect for smaller jobs in tighter spaces.
- Dragline Excavator - Large machines that use hoist rope and dragline mechanisms to dig roadbeds or clear underwater sites.
- Suction Excavator - Excavators equipped with high-powered water jets and vacuums for underground uses, drain clearing, and debris cleanup.
- Long Reach Excavator - Equipment with extra-long reaching arms up to 100 feet and used for heavy construction digging.
All This And Attachments Too!
Beyond these different excavators used by excavation services, there is a selection of bolt-on attachments available that make them even more versatile.
Rock buckets, augers, hammers, chippers, and many other attachments now available can turn any standard excavator into a multi-function tool useful for a variety of heavy tasks.