Heavy Earth Moving Equipment for Dummies | mumble in the jungle

Heavy Earth Moving Equipment for Dummies


Large construction projects invariably require earthmoving machinery, and due to the wide scope of the work, there is a wide range of machines available. If one is not in the construction or mining business, the range of earthmoving equipment can be a little confusing, so here is a description of some of the more commonly used machines.

The bulldozer

This workhorse is designed to push large amounts of earth, and is primarily used for land clearance and levelling. The blade can be adjusted up or down to allow for greater accuracy, and by raising the blade slightly, it relieves the load. Bulldozers come in a range of sizes, and usually are fitted with caterpillar tracks, which give tremendous traction. Wide tracks help to distribute the weight, and prevent the vehicle from sinking into the ground. These machines are very heavy, and are often fitted with concrete weights to improve traction and provide counterbalance. The bulldozer incorporates a steering mechanism that works by applying a brake to one of the tracks. If the driver wishes to turn right, then the right side track is halted, while the left track continues to work, and this turns the vehicle, and with a skilled operator, it is an extremely efficient way to manoeuvre.

Wheeled loaders

These are used extensively in the mining industry, and have a large front bucket that can scoop up earth and deposit it onto the back of a large truck. They range in size from 15 – 30 tonnes, and the bucket can hold at least 3 cubic metres, which is ideal for heavy-duty work. A wheeled loader is balanced with a counterweight at the rear of the vehicle, to allow heavy loads to be lifted safely.


These are perhaps the most versatile of all the earthmoving machines, and come with a front bucket that is either fixed or can open in the middle, like a large jaw. The rear section has a tractor arm, and this can use a number of attachments. A small bucket is ideal for digging trenches, and there are a range of sizes, depending on the task at hand. The backhoe has hydraulic stabilisers that lift the machine off the ground slightly, taking the pressure from the wheels and axles, while providing a safe platform from which to work. Due to the high cost of such equipment, many businesses look to earthmoving equipment hire companies such as Total Plant Hire, as they have a wide range of machines available for long or short term contracts.

Tipper trucks

Essential for large earthmoving projects, the hydraulic system lifts the load carrying section at the front, allowing the earth to slide off the rear. There are variations such as side tipping units, which are often necessary. They come in a range of sizes, with some of the biggest in the world used for open mining.

The plant hire business

Earthmoving equipment isn’t always needed, and often the most economical solution is to hire the equipment for a period of time. The machinery would be well-maintained, and a driver / operator often comes with the machine, as a high level of skill is required for safe operation.