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Heavy earthmoving equipment is a construction business and road crew labor necessity. These vehicles, modeled on trucks and tractors, make it possible to accomplish large-scale work in a drastically reduced period of time. There are four main earthmoving vehicles that are commonly used on construction and excavation sites. Though generally used by professionals in construction and road maintenance, some of these vehicles are now available in smaller forms for nonprofessional use.
A backhoe loader is essentially a tractorlike vehicle with an adjustable, bucket-shaped shovel on the front of the vehicle, and a smaller, adjustable bucket in the back of the vehicle for digging. The first backhoe loaders were manufactured in the 1950s, with the main part of the vehicle being modeled on the common farm tractor. The driver's seat in a backhoe loader can swivel to face forward or backward to make switching from digging to shoveling easier.
In comparison to other earthmoving equipment, the backhoe loader is smaller and more compact, making it ideal for urban or suburban construction projects where work space may be very limited.
An excavator is an example of what is termed heavy construction equipment. They are large and weighty vehicles which move on tank treads rather than tires. There is one long bucket arm on a traditional excavator, and the buckets on an excavator are frequently quite big and wide. The arm is attached to a pivoting cab, in which the operator sits. This cab can rotate a full 360 degrees, giving the operator of the excavator the benefit of being able to park the large vehicle in one spot and work the surrounding area from one convenient point.
Excavators are mainly used for digging substantial amounts of dirt quickly, but are sometimes also used for heavy lifting and large pipe placement.
As with the backhoe loader, the main vehicle component of the bulldozer was modeled on the farm tractor, while the tank treads a bulldozer uses for movement are reminiscent of the excavator. It is also considered to be heavy construction equipment, given its size, weight and the volume of earth it can move. Bulldozers are equipped with a wide, flat blade in the front. The blade is attached to two hydraulic arms that do not protrude very far from the front of the vehicle, unlike the hydraulic arms of the backhoe loader and excavator.
Bulldozers are mainly used for pushing substantial piles of earth, and for grading land to make it more level. Variations on the flat front blade enable some bulldozer models to gather earth as well as move it, or to move boulders and rock piles, specifically.
Industrial dump trucks are another example of heavy construction equipment, and are used to transport large amounts of earth, or to transport materials like gravel to a construction site. A dump truck has no attachments, but does possess a hydraulically operated bed. When the contents within the bed are to be deposited, the end of the bed toward the front of the vehicle rises up on hydraulic pistons, causing the contents of the bed to slide off and to the ground.
Traditionally, the dump truck was a large industrial piece of equipment owned only by construction companies, as well as town, city and state road crews. Recently, smaller dump trucks have been designed for the average person, which consist of a hydraulic bed mounted on a standard pickup truck.
Juan Ramirez has been a writer for over 14 years and worked for two years as an assistant editor with an internationally circulated journal. Ramirez holds a Bachelor of Arts in English writing from Potsdam State University and a Master of Arts in individualized study from New York University.