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The excavator is a common site on construction projects, but it also is employed in many other types of jobs as well. It’s easily identifiable thanks to the large boom, stick or dipper, and bucket that is attached to the end. The boom is directly attached to the cab where the operator sits and can pivot around from a fixed position to move soil, rubble, debris, and other types of materials from one location to a waiting truck which will take the material away or it may be left on-site.

The unit uses hydraulics to power the boom, cylinders, and motor which allow the dipper to dig down into the ground or material and scoop it up into the bucket. They should not be confused with steam shovels which use the same principle, but have steel ropes and winches as opposed to hydraulics to operate the boom.


The basic principles of excavators go back to the old steam shovels that have been around for nearly two centuries. However, the modern excavator did not appear until well into the 20th century in terms of the unit that is seen today. While steam shovels tend to have the bucket face outward to dig up the soil or material, the bucket on excavators are usually inward which takes advantage of better physics when it comes to digging.


Today, you can find excavators on many different construction, demolition, and digging sites when soil, debris, or materials need to be removed from a specific spot. Unlike dozers that push the material in front of their blade, the excavator can dig it up and place it on a flatbed, truck, or other vehicle so it can be removed from the site which means that they can be used for the following;

  • Digging Trenches, Holes, Mining, and River Dredging
  • Handling Materials, Construction, and General Grading
  • Brush Cutting, Forestry Work, and Mulching
  • Driving Piles, Drilling Shafts, and even Snow Removal

The versatility of excavators makes them quite popular and they are used around the world in various functions.

Major Brands

There are several major brands of excavators with no single company that stands out. However, the most popular models are mostly from manufactures that make other construction equipment that includes Caterpillar, John Deere, Case Construction Equipment, Komatsu, JCB, Terex, and more.


With the proper maintenance, excavators can last for decades, although they are not arguably as robust as dozers. This is because they have several moving parts which require considerable attention as they can wear down in short order depending on the nature of the work being performed. The hydraulic system, particularly the boom and pivot on the cab are points where considerable maintenance is performed.

Need for Spare Parts

Spare parts are a big need for excavators, especially those that involve the hydraulic system which gets the most use and pressure. This means having the parts available quickly so that the units can be properly maintained. Many companies that employ excavators will get their spare parts from reputable online retailers who offer them at reasonable prices.