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What Are the Different Types of Heavy Earth Moving Equipment?

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  • Written By: Christian Petersen
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 02 September 2016
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Heavy earth moving equipment has been around for thousands of years from at least as far back as the time of the ancient Egyptians. Today, modern civilization has developed a number of types of heavy earth moving equipment for use in construction, civil engineering, landscaping and mining. Some of these machines are among the largest ever constructed, such as Bagger 293, a bucket excavator that is longer than three 747 jumbo jets placed nose to tail in a line.

Some types of earth moving machines are very familiar to many people. A bulldozer, for example is a large tracked vehicle with a movable blade mounted on the front that pushes dirt and rocks around. Front loaders and backhoes are similar to bulldozers and are often built on the same types of tracked platform — sometimes with both on the same tracked vehicle. A front loader has a large, movable, broad bucket mounted on the front which allows it to scoop up dirt. A backhoe is a mechanical shovel that consists of an articulated arm with a bucket on the end which digs into the ground by pushing down into the soil and scooping it back towards the machine.

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Large backhoe excavators are often found at construction and mining sites and consist of a tracked base with the bulk of the machine mounted above which allows it to rotate in any direction. The shovel, or bucket, on these excavators can be enormous, especially in the case of mining excavators. Some are capable of moving hundreds of cubic yards of earth with one scoop. Other mining excavators include drag-line shovels, which use chains to control and move huge bucket-like shovels, and bucket wheel excavators, which have enormous rotating wheels with bucket shovels mounted along the rim that allow for continuous digging. Some of these excavators are capable of removing hundreds of thousands of tons of earth per day.

Dump trucks are another common form of heavy earth moving equipment. They range in size from those commonly seen at small construction sites to titanic machines the size of large houses that haul hundreds of cubic yards of material at a time at mining sites. Some of these dump trucks can hold as much as 400 tons in their cargo bin.

Road construction equipment, such as graders, are another form of heavy earth moving equipment. Graders are used to move earth for the purpose of smoothing road beds, often prior to paving. Trenchers are specialized earth moving machines that dig trenches for pipes or cables.

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