Heavy equipment generally falls into one of three main categories:
Earth-moving machines – Earth-moving machines – these are what most people think of when heavy equipment is mentioned. Some of the most common earth-moving machines are excavators, bulldozers, wheel loaders and backhoes. Excavators are incredibly important to the construction trades because they enable a single operator to do the work of dozens of workers. Excavators are generally used to dig trenches for utility lines, irrigation systems, or foundation footings. The ability to dig a trench through hard, packed soil with minimal effort makes these machines indispensable for any construction crew.
Even those in the landscaping industry have found that excavators provide a quick and efficient means of digging irrigation trenches, like those used for irrigation lines. In the hard-packed, clay soils of the American southwest, an excavator is a necessity for any construction firm that values productivity and efficiency.
Bulldozers and backhoes are other earthmovers that are quite common on the construction site, as they enable a single operator to move massive amounts of dirt and loose materials with ease. A large bulldozer can frequently move more than twenty cubic yards of loose material in one pass, and a cubic yard alone may weigh more than a ton in some cases! The Caterpillar D6 is one of the most popular bulldozers on the market today, with the Komatsu D65 its only real competitor in the mid-sized market.
Wheel loaders are incredibly popular pieces of heavy equipment in that their front-mounted scoop buckets are able to transport heavy loads of loose fill and materials in an efficient manner. Some of these units are able to handle several tons of material in one pass, and are adept at depositing their load onto a conveyor belt, into a dump truck bed, or simply moving the product around a construction or mining site.
Backhoes combine the best of both worlds, as they sport a loading bucket in front with an excavating boom arm in the rear. The excavating arm is generally used for trenching, though it can be used for light demolition duties. The loading bucket in the front is perfect for moving and transporting loose fill.
Agricultural Machinery – During the turn of the 20th that one farmer could produce enough food to feed twenty-five people. Today, that number has expanded to one hundred-thirty people. The main difference is in the heavy equipment that is used on a daily basis by our hardworking farming communities.
Some of the most commonly used pieces of heavy agricultural equipment are tractors, tillers, seeders, and irrigation rigs. Tractors have been in use for years, and have grown increasingly efficient through the use of quick detachable implements and accessories. Tillers are commonly used to prep seedbeds and do an admirable job of churning the ground and prepping the soil base to ensure a hospitable environment for plant and fruit seeds.
Seeders are designed to insert seeds into the ground at pre-determined intervals, and make the life of the agricultural worker much easier than previously imagined. Irrigation rigs provide much needed water in bulk quantities, and in a much quicker manner than compared to other watering processes. Agricultural machinery may be more specifically geared toward one task versus a construction-biased heavy machine, but the fundamentals are similar. Leveraging the power of hydraulics, powerful diesel motors, and heavy-duty steel frames, these machines are designed to work.
Material moving/handling – Heavy equipment like cranes, forklifts, and aerial work platforms represent some of the machines that comprise the material moving and handling category. These machines are designed to move bulky, heavy, and otherwise difficult to move cargo over short to moderate distances, and are built with power and safety in mind.
Commonly used cranes in the construction industry include crawler cranes and truck mounted cranes. Crawler cranes utilize tracked wheels to permit a mobile platform, and can move around while holding a load. They are able to do this without outriggers and are able to navigate a job site easily. Truck mounted cranes are not quite as maneuverable around the job site, and do require outriggers for stability, but they can drive between multiple job sites under their own power. Crawler cranes must be broken down and hauled to a new job site on a flatbed trailer.
Forklifts are seen in areas as diverse as marine loading docks, large warehouses, and in agricultural applications. These can operate on liquid propane, diesel, natural gas, or electricity. Aerial work platforms are seen in the construction trades and are perfect for use as temporary scaffolding platforms, as well as to transport materials from the ground level to a higher elevation – and vice versa.