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Excavators – A Laymans Description

Excavators are a part of the earth moving family but what are they exactly? Some people mistakenly refer to all digging machinery as excavators, backhoes included. This is not quite correct – excavators are machines in their own right and have distinct differences to other machinery like backhoes.

An excavator can be identified by several features. The first is a distinctive scorpion like appearance. The scorpions tail in this case is an articulated arm with a bucket attached to the end (other attachments can be used instead of a bucket). What makes an excavator different to a backhoe (the backhoe also has the articulated arm) is the platform the articulated arm is connected to. Forward of the articulated arm is an operators cab that also sits on the rotating platform.

The rotating platform of an excavator can rotate through 360 degrees. The platform sits on either a set of wheels, or more commonly a set of tracks. Excavators don’t have the same freedom of movement that a backhoe possesses but what it lacks in maneuverability it makes up for with shear digging capabilities. An excavator can dig a deeper and wider trench than backhoe over a similar period of time.

Like backhoes, excavators work in a variety of jobs including demolition, lifting and placing heavy materials especially pipes, for mining, river dredging, landscaping and of course digging trenches. You can find employment in excavators ranging from the mini excavator right up to huge excavators used in mining. Excavator training is generally undertaken as part of a broad heavy equipment training program that includes other earth moving equipment.

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