How Does an Excavator Work?

Whether it’s for building a small house or a huge skyscraper, every construction site needs heavy equipment that makes the job easier. And out of all the possible types of machinery commonly found on construction sites, excavators are the most recognizable ones.

 

Excavators can significantly increase the work speed on construction sites, and thanks to their strength and efficiency, they’re used in a variety of different fields, including:

 

  • Landscaping
  • Demolition
  • Mining
  • Dredging
  • Pipe-laying
  • Wood removal

 

These powerful machines are difficult to operate and need to be handled with care.

 

Main Components of an Excavator

 

Unlike most other pieces of machinery on construction sites, the majority of excavators have tracks instead of wheels. While wheels offer more speed and mobility, excavators rely on tracks for better support and more control. Tracks can handle diverse terrain with ease and have better traction on slopes or unstable ground.

 

Attached to the undercarriage, we’ll find the operator’s cabin, engine, counterweights, and the tanks. The cabin is located on a pivot, which allows for full 360° motion.

 

Modern excavators have cabins that are equipped with ergonomic seats, sealed windows for dust and noise control, and more. The operator steers all the equipment from inside the cabin by using various pedals and levers. To become an excavator operator, a driver’s license and sometimes a commercial driver’s license are needed.

 

The excavator’s signature component is the excavator’s arm. Depending on the type of excavator, the arm and boom can reach up to 67 meters.

 

Connected to the arm is an excavator bucket that can come in a few varieties. Ditching buckets, for example, are used for grading stones, while trenching buckets are used for digging trenches. Instead of a bucket, excavators can sometimes use clamps, breakers, augers, or other extensions depending on their necessity.

 

Excavator Power and Drive

 

Most commonly, excavators are powered by diesel. The diesel engine generates hydraulic pressure that is used for controlling the arm. The reason why diesel is used instead of more environmentally-friendly options is that diesel can offer more horsepower and increase the efficiency of this piece of machinery.

 

Some modern excavators do have electric motors that are powered by fuel cells. Such excavators have a smaller-sized motor, allowing for the operator’s cabin to be more spacious and comfortable.

 

Most Common Types of Excavators

 

Excavators can come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, and they all have specific uses and functions.

 

Crawler Excavator

 

When most people think of excavators, they think of crawler excavators. They are relatively compact and designed for mining, landscaping, and trench digging. Their tracks have a chain wheel system that allows them to quickly go up and down the hills and sloped ground, making them ideal for uneven terrain.

 

Crawler excavators move more slowly than some of their counterparts, but they’re more stable and have better balance.

 

Suction Excavators

 

These unique excavators come on wheels and are much smaller than typical. They’re equipped with a suction pipe containing sharp teeth at the end. The teeth make it easier to cut through earth and excavate.

 

The suction pipe uses a water jet first, which makes the ground easier to dig through, then it creates a strong vacuum to remove debris and soil. Suction excavators are normally used for more delicate projects and can significantly mitigate the risks of damage to pipes or surrounding areas.

 

Skid Steer Excavator

 

Another type of a wheeled excavator, the skid steer excavator is used for removing debris and working on residential projects. The boom and bucket are oriented away from the excavator operator, allowing the excavator arm to go over the cabin and access smaller spaces. Skid steer excavators are ideal for working in narrow streets.

 

Long Reach Excavator

 

Used for big digging projects and industrial demolitions, long reach excavators boast an arm and boom that extend up to 67 meters.

 

Considered to be a more heavy-duty piece of machinery, they’re powerful, efficient, and flexible. Different extensions can be attached to the arm, so these long reach excavators can be used not only for digging but also for cutting, crushing, shearing, and more.

 

Excavators can perform a variety of different tasks, making them absolutely necessary on construction sites. While their size can often be frightening to the inexperienced, they’re efficient and can speed up the process of construction.

 

Image Source: Pexels.com

 

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