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Excavators are heavy construction machines used to excavate and move earth during building process. It consists of an extending arm called a broom which very much imitates the human arm with the shoulder, elbow and the bucket resembling a cupped hand, a digging implement and a rotating platform or house mounted by a cab.
The excavator enables workers to dig and remove thousands of cubic meters of dirt effortlessly. They have enabled people to dig and extract minerals and therefore have helped changing radically the shape of the surface of our planet.
It is believed that the first excavators were steam-powered and early versions of diggers, also called steam shovels, were used on some of the most important construction sites in History and engineering projects ever undertaken like the Panama Canal or the Construction of the Baltimore-Ohio Railroad with the William Otis’ American Steam Excavator also known as “American Geologist” which was the first single bucket excavator ever used and remains a symbol of construction mechanization to this day.
At the time, able to replace 80 diggers, it has set the direction of the evolution of excavators for 140 years.
Many people are confused about the meaning of the word as in modern day terminology “excavator” implies that the machine described is a backhoe but “excavator” actually refers to a machine available in many different forms including stripping shovels, mainly used in the mining industry and able to handle very hard materials; walking draglines and bucket-wheel excavators which is a large-scale digging machine.
Excavators come in many different sizes, from mini-excavators able to operate weight between 0.7 and 8 tones, to colossal earth moving machines like the Bucyrus RH400 which the largest excavator available, weighing over 2,160,510 pounds with a bucket of 52 cubic meters.
Nowadays, excavators are mainly hydraulic powered machines and, even if other sorts of excavators are still in use, the bucket hydraulic excavator is the typical representative of this type of construction equipment.
They are known for being more reliable and efficient. In fact, adjusting the level of oil in the cylinders will cause a change in the accuracy of the machine and its movements. Hydraulic excavators offer more versatility, they can be equipped with various add on accessories, like buckets, drills or scissors which make it adaptable to all sorts of construction work in all types of areas even confined environments and enables to complete jobs in less time and with fewer machines.
They are smooth, user-friendly, reliable, fingertip controlled machines that continue to evolve promptly due to the continuous development of new technologies.
The competition between some of the biggest Brands in the sector is fierce as
fight to stay on top of their game and thrive on bringing their costumers the best of those new technologies at the best price.
Most Hydraulic Excavators, especially in the US, have crawlers but they do come with various types of traction depending of the type of work and area they are used for. Excavators can be either wheeled or tracked and it is a common misconception to think that tracked excavators are better, both have benefits and drawbacks:
Wheeled Excavators: with wheels and tires, they have a limited load capacity but operate with good movement and higher speed. You may drive it from job to job as it can go up to 60km/h hence reducing transportation costs and although it is not as stable, with today’s modern equipment, there is no difference when it comes to efficiency.
Crawler Excavators: Mounted on continuous tracks, the large surface area of the tracks allows for more stability as the weight is distributed better than it would be on a wheeled machine. The metal plates make it also better suited for rough roads and steep hills. Low on speed and not adapted for the road, the track excavator has the benefit of offering great stability and limits the risks of getting bogged down in mud. They are also more affordable than wheeled Excavators.
Excavator shoes: mounted horizontal metal structures that can be moved by hydraulic pistons to be in contact with the soil and stabilize the excavator’s position, especially when on unstable ground.
Excavators with articulated supports: This type of excavators is equipped with foot stirrups and articles to ensure optimal positioning in situations where the normal excavator fails to operate, such as within channels or on great degrees of slope.
An excavator is equipped with a digging tool that can be traced back to two categories: the bucket and ladle or spoon.