An Overview Of Earth-Moving Heavy Equipment

Heavy equipment operators must know how to operate a variety of machines. One duty they frequently take on is earth moving. They may be asked to excavate or move large amounts of soil and debris before laying a foundation or assisting with landscaping tasks. While earth moving on a small scale can be completed by hand, large projects require the use of special machinery. 

There are many types of earth-moving equipment today. The operator must determine which machine is appropriate for the job being completed. The following are a few of the machines a person might use when completing this task. 

Backhoe Loaders

Backhoe loaders perform many of the same jobs excavators do. However, they offer more versatility, as they are smaller than excavators. These vehicles are wheel-driven, making them easier to maneuver. As a result, they can be used in urban areas without difficulty. 

This equipment resembles a farm tractor in many ways. The key difference is it has a bucket in the front that can be adjusted along with a small bucket in the back. The back bucket is used to dig. This machine can be used to relocate dirt, fill in an excavation, dig a hole or a trench, or to place materials, such as pipes. 


When a person thinks of earth-moving equipment, a bulldozer is often the first machine that comes to mind. They are powerful, heavy machines that can move large quantities of dirt quickly and easily. The wide, flat blade located at the front of the machine is capable of moving in a range of depths and angles. Hydraulic cylinders operate this blade. 

A bulldozer handles both rough and fine grading, depending on the size of the machine. The bulldozer is often called in to do prep work prior to other machines being brought in for more specialized tasks. 

Crawler Loaders

A crawler loader is called on to collect, carry, and transport large amounts of material. This material may be debris from a construction site, materials for a job, or soil. This heavy equipment comes with wheels and a large bucket at the front of the machine. Beams serve as the arms for the bucket. The loader scoops earth or sand, uses its arms to lift the bucket, and relocates the contents of the bucket to the desired location. Loaders are often used together with an excavator to move earth or other materials rapidly. 

Dump Trucks

Earth-moving equipment involves more than machines that actually relocate dirt on the ground. A dump truck qualifies as this type of equipment because the truck may be used to transport materials being moved to a location away from the job site. While they have a limited function, this doesn’t mean they are any less important than the other machines found on the site. These trucks range in size from small vehicles to enormous ones used in mining operations. 


Excavators, often referred to as diggers, are used for a wide range of tasks. They may handle materials, excavate holes, foundations, or trenches before being used to demolish something. Rough grading can be accomplished with the help of this machine, which is also used in the mining industry. The machine can also dredge rivers, lift and install pipes, or cut brush when equipped with hydraulic attachments. 

This machine runs on tracks or wheels, although tracks are more common. The long bucket arm or boom that is attached to a pivoting cab is capable of moving in a full circle. As the operator sits up in the cab, they have a clear view of the job site. This is one of the most efficient machines available today, as it can handle countless tasks, such as those mentioned previously. These machines typically range in size from five tons to 30 tons. 

Motor Graders

Motor graders in many ways resemble tractors. They specialize in relocating materials and debris. An operator may also use this machine to flatten a surface or level the ground. This depends on the needs of the project. 

The machine has a blade that can be set to the desired depth. Once the depth is determined, it removes any items that are no longer desired in the area. Upon completion of its work, the ground is flat and level. 

Heavy equipment operators choose between rigid frame and articulated frame motor graders. The rigid frame motor grader features one blade, which is located between the front and back wheels. These machines only move in two directions, so they are best for jobs that involve straight lines. 

Articulated frame motor graders move in four directions. They have two blades, with one between the wheels and a second in the front. The front blade clears the ground while guiding the machine to where it needs to go. 

Individuals often see motor graders when roads are being constructed or repaved. They are ideal for fine-grading of dirt and gravel roads or prepping a base course for asphalt. This machine may also be used to create a drainage ditch or sloped surface. 

These are only a few of the machines that are used to move earth. There are many others, including a range of loaders. A person might find they need a skid-steer loader for log grappling or snow blowing. A trencher is needed when laying cable or pipe, and a scraper is ideal for leveling large swathes of land. A vibratory roller compactor may be used after dirt has been moved, or a breaker or drill might be needed to break, drill, or penetrate concrete or solid ground. A heavy equipment provider is helpful in determining which machines will be of most use for the job being completed.

The need for earth-moving equipment in the construction industry continues to increase, not only in America but in other countries as well. The benefits that come with the use of this equipment are immense. Companies save time and money while improving the safety of those on the job. Learn more today about the options offered to find those that are right for the company’s needs. 

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