An excavator is a piece of heavy machinery that digs holes in the sand, earth, and rock and loads materials onto conveyors or onto trucks for removal. It consists of a boom dipper, a bucket, and a cab, all of which are mounted on a rotating platform known as the “house.” Its undercarriage could be on tracks or wheels. In a nutshell, an excavator is a mechanical shovel that is used for digging holes and trenches, moving materials, demolition, grading, landscaping, mining (underground and surface), dredging rivers, and snow removal. Safety and competency are priorities, and proper training is required. Otherwise, you ʀɪsᴋ making a mistake that results in serious injury and OSHA fines.
Excavators are the workhouse of industry and one of the most common pieces of heavy equipment on construction sites around the globe. These machines are incredibly versatile and can be operated in many different types of environments ranging from the typical construction site, to environments that require the scaling of extremely steep slopes and hillsides.
Excavators are designed with either wheels or tracks that allow the machine to move across a job site. They are also constructed with a boom and stick assembly that can be affixed with many different types of attachments that can perform many tasks. Excavator attachments include buckets, shears for demolition, augers for drilling holes, hammer, rippers, and dredge pumps. Different types of couplers are also used for quickly switching attachments when the excavator is used for different tasks.
Most excavators use a hydraulic system to power the movement of the boom/stick/bucket assembly to perform the specific jobs required such as digging, trenching, debris removal, demolition, dredging, and many other tasks. The hydraulic system is powered by the diesel motor, but when a larger quantity of power is required, a separate Hydraulic Power Unit (HPU) can be used. An HPU can be a stand-alone unit or be affixed to the backside of the excavator.
Excavator operators are responsible for a wide range of responsibilities. To operate machinery, they must: Move levers, dials, and foot pedals. Before using the equipment, set it up and inspect it. Keep track of your load counts. Follow safe digging procedures and understand your digging plans, machine capabilities, and limitations. Perform routine equipment maintenance, troubleshooting, and repairs. Backfill excavations, vibrate or break rock and concrete, and make winter roads with proper equipment.
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