Uses for an excavator in construction

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Excavators are extensively used in construction and thus excavator rentals are important. They are one of the first machines on a construction site after groundbreaking. Their task is to prepare the site, be it the foundation for a multi-story building, or a roadbed for an asphalt overlay. Excavators are also used for landscaping, material handling, demolition, digging irrigation canals, and dredging rivers.

An excavator is most commonly seen as a tracked vehicle, with a cab on top, where the operator sits. Joining the control cab is an articulated arm called a boom. This boom can be divided into two or three sections, each controlled by hydraulic cylinders. These hydraulic cylinders are what enables the operator to position the boom and its attachment to where it needs to go.

A typical control system for an excavator is composed of four sticks, which operate the valves that control the hydraulic cylinders driving the boom. The hydraulic system is powered by up to three hydraulic pumps, which in turn are driven by the excavator’s engine. Very large excavators called draglines use steel cables, pulleys and winches to operate the boom.

There are several attachments that can be used on an excavator:

  • Auger – looking like a massive drill bit, it is used to drill cylindrical holes in the ground
  • Compactor – used to compact the soil, such as in a roadbed, before an asphalt or concrete overlay is laid
  • Grapple – used to move piles or logs into position
  • Hammer – used in a demolition or breaking environment
  • Rake – used for site preparation, brush piling, or land preparation
  • Bucket – used for digging and scooping large amounts of soil onto a dump truck

In a construction environment, the most common attachment would be a bucket. Typical in such an environment, an excavator would be used for digging soil, moving the soil around or onto a truck, remove construction waste, filling holes or gradients, lifting, pipe laying, and even dredging.

Excavators come in several sizes. One of the most established brands on the market, Caterpillar, offers one of the smallest and also the largest excavators in existence. In the case of the mini excavators, wheels instead of tracks are used to move the machine and are powered by a comparatively puny 13 horsepower engine. The smallest bucket available for this mini excavator measures just 9 inches in width and has a capacity of 0.6 cubic feet. The massive Caterpillar 6090, on the other hand, is powered by a 4,500 hp engine, weighs almost 2.2 million pounds, and has a bucket that can fit more than 1,800 cubic feet of soil.

Contact Rockwell Engineering today.

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