Excavators are primarily used for digging. Other earthmoving equipment can also be used for digging, but they cannot compete with how deep an excavator digs or how efficient it has been constructed. They are also used for trenching or lifting and loading materials like pipes. Some individuals use them to break up rocks or concrete and even compacting soil. You should, however, read the manual before carrying out the latter tasks as proper attachments are required. This means that the bucket (a component of the excavator as you will read below) can be replaced with attachments like a hydraulic breaker or a compactor. The hydraulic breaker will be used to break up rocks, and the compactor will be used to compact soil.
What Constitutes an Excavator?
An excavator mainly comprises of two major structures: an upper one and a lower one. The upper structure is a revolving unit comprising of an operator's cab, a hoe, counterweight and the engine compartment. The hoe is made up of a dipper arm, bucket and a boom. The whole revolving unit can rotate 360 degrees. The lower structure may comprise tracks or wheels, and that is what makes excavators differ from other earthmoving equipment. You can either choose a wheel-mounted excavator or a track-mounted excavator. The track-mounted excavator should be your choice if the ground you are working on is unfavourable. The tracks will provide stability.
Excavators should not be operated by unqualified individuals. There should be proper training, certification and licensing. In such training, the operator gets to know how to properly prepare before a dig, how to carry out the dig and how to be safe and ensure the safety of other individuals and property. This may include wearing protective gear, checking the conditions of the ground, obtaining a digging permit, obtaining information on the presence of underground pipeline or cables, checking for overhead obstructions etc.
An excavator can be used on a small-scale or large-scale digging project. On a small-scale project, the operator will be instructed on where to dig and also to what depth. For larger projects, there might be a plan with proposed ditches.
When lifting pipes into a trench or hoisting and unloading materials from trucks, weight is a crucial factor to consider. The operator manual indicates what weight to lift. There are, however, other factors that may need to be considered such as positioning and swing, hydraulic capability, the centre of gravity, excavator weight, the location of lift hooks etc.