What is an Excavator?

When it comes to construction equipment, excavators are some of the most versatile machines on the market. They can be used for a wide range of tasks, from digging trenches to demolishing buildings. If you’re thinking about buying an excavator for your business, or if you’re just curious about what they can do, then this is the guide for you.

In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about excavators: how they work, the different types available, and how to choose the right one for your needs. We’ll also cover operating and maintaining excavators, so you can make sure yours runs smoothly year after year.

Excavators are powered by hydraulics, which is a system of fluids that transmit energy. The excavator has two hydraulic pumps: one for the tracks and one for the boom. The track pump is used to move the excavator forward or backward, while the boom pump is used to raise and lower the arm. Excavators also have a cab, where the operator sits, and a bucket, which is used for excavating.

They are available in a variety of sizes and styles to suit different needs. The most common type is the wheeled excavator, which is ideal for construction sites that have good access.

Origin of the excavator

The origins of the excavator date back to the late 1800s, when steam engines were taking over all types of construction machinery. In 1904, J. Earl McLeod applied for a patent on an early version of an excavator that used compressed air to power its movement. His design was never manufactured, but it did inspire other inventors to improve and create their own models. In 1907, James J. McHale and Henry J. Herring invented several excavator devices that can still be seen in modern models—including the revolving upper structure that allows the entire machine to pivot in any direction (also known as a “house” or “cab”).

Caterpillar is currently one of the most popular brands of excavators in use today. They have been producing excavators since 1952, and they produce around 200 different models now.

Components of an excavator

An excavator is a construction machine used for excavating earth and other materials. It comprises an articulated arm, bucket, and cab mounted on a rotating platform called the “house”. The house sits atop an undercarriage with tracks or wheels. Excavators are also sometimes called diggers, JCB’s, or simply excavators.

The principal components of an excavator are:

  • The House: The excavator’s house is the main operator station or cab where the operator sits. This is where all the controls for operating the machine are located.
  • The Boom: The boom is the long arm of the excavator that extends out from the house. It is used to reach and grab materials that need to be excavated.
  • The Bucket: The bucket is the excavator’s primary digging tool. It is attached to the end of the boom and is used to scoop up materials that need to be excavated.
  • The Undercarriage: The undercarriage is the excavator’s base or “body”. It consists of the tracks or wheels that support the machine and house, as well as the engine, drive train, and other components.

Now that we’ve looked at the anatomy of an excavator, let’s take a closer look at use of excavators

General use of excavators

Most excavators can be used for a variety of tasks, but there are some that are better suited for specific jobs. For example, wheeled excavators are better suited for construction sites that have good access, while crawler excavators are more versatile and can be used in a variety of terrain.

Here are some common uses for excavators:

  • Digging trenches
  • Demolishing buildings
  • Clearing land
  • Loading trucks
  • Brush clearing
  • Digging for a pond
  • Excavating foundations


Types of excavators


Wheeled excavators

Wheeled excavators are excavators that have wheels instead of tracks. They’re typically used for excavating soil and soft materials, as well as light grading and leveling tasks. Wheeled excavators are nimble and maneuverable, making them ideal for tight spaces.

Hydraulic excavators

Hydraulic excavators are the most common type of excavator. They use hydraulics to power their movements, which makes them incredibly powerful and efficient machines. Hydraulic excavators are used for a variety of applications, including digging, trenching, demolishing, and material handling.

Tracked excavators

They are also called crawler excavators, are the most common type of excavator. Another type of excavator is a tracked excavator, which has tracks instead of wheels. Tracked excavators are often used in muddy or wet conditions because they provide better traction than wheeled excavators. They’re well-suited for construction and demolition applications in a variety of settings, including excavating trenches, digging holes, removing tree stumps, and handling other heavy-duty tasks.

Compact excavators

Compact excavators (also known as mini excavators) are smaller than full-size excavators and are designed for light-duty applications. These excavators are perfect for landscaping projects, digging trenches, and performing other light excavation tasks.

Long reach excavators

Long reach excavators have an extended boom and arm. They are typically used in demolition projects or for tasks that require a longer reach than a standard excavator. If you’re considering purchasing an excavator, a long reach excavator may be the right choice for you.

Crawler excavators

Crawler excavators are one of the most common excavators on construction sites. They’re easy to identify because they have a large, metal chassis that rests on top of crawler tracks. These excavators are incredibly versatile and can be used for a variety of tasks, from excavating trenches to loading dump trucks.

While crawler excavators are very popular, they’re not the only type of excavator out there. Wheeled excavators are also commonly used on construction sites. These excavators have many of the same features as their crawler counterparts, but they’re mounted on wheels instead of tracks. This makes them better suited for working on pavement or other hard surfaces.

Skid steers excavators

Skid steer excavators are one of the most versatile machines on a construction site. Excavators can be used for digging, trenching, and excavating foundations. They are also used for loading and unloading trucks, clearing debris, and grading roads. When shopping for a skid steer excavator, it is important to consider the size of the machine and the attachments that will be needed.

Manufacturers of excavators

Popular manufacturer of excavators are

  • Caterpillar
  • Hitachi
  • Komatsu
  • John Deere & Co.
  • New Holland
  • Volvo Construction Equipment


Operating an excavator

Operating an excavator is not as difficult as it may seem.

The first thing you need to do is get in the cab and fasten your seatbelt. Then, start the engine and engage the hydraulic pumps. To move the excavator forward or backward, use the joystick to control the tracks. To raise or lower the arm, use the levers next to your seat. And finally, to operate the bucket, use the foot pedals.

Operating an excavator can be challenging, but it’s also exciting and rewarding. If you take the time to learn how to operate your excavator safely and efficiently, you’ll be able to get the most out of your machine.

There are a few things you need to keep in mind when operating an excavator:

  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Make sure you have the proper training before operating the machine.
  • Wear appropriate safety gear


Maintaining an excavator

Like any other piece of construction equipment, excavators require regular maintenance. To keep your excavator in good condition, you should:

  • Check the oil level every day and change the oil every 500 hours.
  • Grease the tracks and pins weekly.
  • Inspect the hoses and fittings for leaks monthly.

By following these simple tips, you can ensure that your excavator will run smoothly for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions


What should I consider if I am looking to buy an excavator?

When you are looking to buy an excavator, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. The first is the size of the machine. You need to make sure that the excavator you purchase is the right size for your project. The second thing you need to consider is the price. Excavators can range in price from $100,000 to over $500,000. You need to make sure that you are getting the excavator that fits your budget. The third thing to consider is the type of excavator you need. The various excavators have already been discussed.

What is the shelf life of an excavator?

The shelf life of an excavator depends on how it is used and maintained. An excavator that is well-maintained can last for decades. However, an excavator that is not properly cared for will only last a few years.

How often should I service my excavator?

You should service your excavator every 500 hours or as specified by the manufacturer. By regularly servicing your excavator, you can extend its lifespan and prevent expensive repairs down the road.


Excavators can be used for a wide range of tasks, from digging trenches to demolishing buildings. If you need an excavator for your business, or if you’re just curious about what they can do, i am sure you found this guide insightful. Everything you need to know about excavators: how they work, the different types available, and how to choose the right one for your needs — has been discussed in this guide.