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The Four Common Types of Heavy Equipment

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The type of construction application will determine the heavy machinery used. Heavy machinery is divided into four major categories:

  • Construction equipment
  • Material handling
  • Construction vehicles
  • Earthmoving equipment

When it comes to earthmoving hire, there are four major types of equipment available. Knowing them and their uses can help you understand why each is designed differently from another.


These are large earthmoving equipment available in different sizes. A traditional excavator typically has a pivoting cab that rotates and a long bucket arm attached to the cab. The operator sits in the cab and has clear visibility over the site. Most of the time excavators are used to lift heavy pieces such as pipes, prefab pieces and smaller equipment.

Other uses of an excavator include:

  • River dredging
  • Mining
  • Placing and heavy lifting of pipes
  • Rough grading
  • Demolition
  • Brush cutting using hydraulic attachments
  • Digging of foundations, holes and trenches
  • Material handling

Backhoe loaders

A backhoe loader is quite similar to a tractor with the difference being it has a small bucket in the loader's back used for digging and an adjustable shovel in front. This equipment is considered as medium sized heavy equipment used for small jobs with limited space for performing operations.

Backhoe loaders can place smaller pipes into place, dig trenches, backfill and move dirt. One of the benefits of these loaders is they are tire mounted, meaning they can be used in urbanised patios and areas.


One of the toughest and strongest heavy equipment used in earthmoving applications is a bulldozer. It is extremely heavy and powerful equipment used to move large quantities of dirt along open tracts of land. They have a wide flat blade at the front.

The blade is operated using two hydraulic pistons that allow the blade to move in limited depths or angles. Bulldozers are usually used for fine/rough grading and to push piles of earth depending on their size. Its weight can also be used to crush large boulders. 

Skid steer loaders

In the construction industry, one of the most versatile machines available is skid steer loaders. Just like a tank, this simple to operate equipment can turn within their footprint. It is, therefore, ideal for areas where construction activity has been finalised or in confined spaces.

Skid steer loaders use wheels, and they can provide increased traction that is ideal in mud or snow. The wheels' tread system prevents damaged to finished areas and reduces soil compaction.