Excavators are a type of heavy construction tractor that consists of a cab on a turning platform, a bucket, a stick and a boom. The rotating platform sits above an undercarriage with wheels or tracks. It is generally used at construction sites to help dig and refill large areas of land. Crawler excavators run on two endless tracks, and are often used in hilly areas where there is a high risk of sliding, while wheel excavators are used for plain ground operations.


There are many different brands and companies that manufacture excavators, including Bobcat, John Deere, JCB, and Mitsubishi. John Deere has over 20 different models to choose from. The 17D excavator is its simplest model, which has 14.8 horsepower and a maximum digging range of just under 13 feet. This model is used more for small projects on properties. The 870G LC model offers the best performance, with 532 horsepower and a maximum digging depth of 31.5 feet, and is used at large construction sites.

527052479Purpose/How to

Excavators are primarily used on construction sites, but can be used for a number of different purposes. They can be used to drill shafts for rock blasting, assist with mining, general landscaping, demolition, forestry work such as mulching, brush cutting, material handling and transportation, and foundation digging. There are also numerous attachments available. The creation of hydraulic-powered attachments like the auger, grapple, or breaker, has made excavators much more versatile, and able to accomplish more tasks than simple dirt removal. Most excavators also have a backfill blade, which attaches to the undercarriage and is used for refilling and leveling.

Safety Features & Guidelines

When operating any tractor or heavy machinery, it is important to follow several safety precautions. Check for dangers around the excavator before you begin operating it. It is extremely important to know your job site like the back of your hand. Still, unexpected obstacles and hazards can arise, so it is important to be aware of your surroundings when operating the machine. Practice makes perfect, so before you start using the excavator, learn all of the controls and practice controlling the different attachments. This will hopefully prevent any accidental lever pushing that may cause injury. Also make sure the excavator is fueled with fresh gas, and ensure the weather conditions are good enough to safely operate in.

Pros & Cons

There are multiple advantages to using a wheeled excavator over a crawler, but several disadvantages as well. While wheeled excavators are popular in Europe, they are rarely used in North America.

Wheeled excavators tend to cost more initially, but operating costs are often less than that of a crawler because their undercarriages cost much more. Wheeled excavators are able to drive from each work area to the next, saving the cost on having to purchase multiple excavators or manually transport them. Wheeled excavators are also extremely versatile, and are well suited to work in urban areas. They get stuck more easily than crawlers, however, and may have difficulty operating in wet or muddy conditions. Wheeled machines often come with a dozer blade, which helps stabilize the excavator during digging and better handles cleanup and backfill duties.