Excavators which are quite commonly referred to as hydraulic excavators by engineers or boom excavators by operators and sometimes as power shovels by laymen are basically machines. These machines are manufactured with either wheels or tracks complete with a carrier frame and a swivelling turret.
The cabin that rests on the turret houses the operator’s control panel that controls the engine, hydraulic systems and boom. In essence the arm/ boom basically imitates the construct movements of a human arm that enables the machine to apply different tools for various functions. Depending on the type of project, there are different types of excavators, however almost all excavators have a component that is specifically designed to dig or break the ground.
However, apart from that excavators are also used to break rocks, some have pincers to move objects such as tree trunks and grapples for heavy lifting, handling forks and tools for demolition. It is due to this reason (the versatility of excavators) that makes excavators essential for construction projects such as demolition, mining, and handling of bulk materials, forestry work and quarrying works.
Hence towards choosing the right excavator hire / rental option, project managers must realise that there are two types of excavators in general, mainly excavators with wheels and excavators that come with tracks. Both come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages and identifying which suits the project more is a critical first step that will determine how smoothly the project will run.
Choosing wheels or tracks, depends on the terrain that the excavator will be required to move around on for example, muddy or wet ground conditions would require a ‘tracked’ excavator whereas a wheeled excavator is better for dry uneven ground. The second step is to determine the type of excavator attachment required based on the functions that it is required to perform as there is a wide range of excavator configurations.
Different manufacturers equip their excavators with different abilities and attachments as they are able to change/ replace tools to perform different types of work for example demolition excavators are equipped with arm like appendages that are able to reach the top of a building to demolish the building from top to down and the cab is fitted with a hydraulic jack that allows the cab to be tilted upwards which allows operators to see what they are doing.
There is also what is referred to as the zero-tail swing excavator which is capable of being pivoted without protruding from the ground where the vehicle sits which enable these machines to work within close proximity walls without touching the walls. The ‘Walking excavators’ or ‘spider on the other hand has no wheels nor tracks but are instead equipped with “legs” that allow them to work on rough steep terrains with ease.
Choosing excavators is a critical success factor for any given project and choosing the wrong one is in every way a waste of time and money. For new project managers, it is advised that they seek the opinion of experienced engineers or even experienced excavator operators who would have a better idea on which kind of excavator would suit the job best.