Working as a heavy machine operator is a varied career, every new site or project is different, not just in surroundings, but the machines that you can be operating. When we think about the different machines that are found in today’s industry, there are huge differences in size and ability, but what do they all do?
Although they come in several sizes, skid steer loaders are some of the smaller machines you regularly see on sites. Extremely popular, these multi-use machines are primarily used for loading material onto trucks, with the bucket able to be lifted high over the operator’s cab. Today there are dozens of attachments available for these machines, including forklifts, planers, augers and so on, meaning that these small but versatile machines are found on nearly every site you will visit today. For rough or muddy conditions, you will often see tracked versions, the track loader, used in similar ways.
Whether a standard, large excavator or the smaller compact type, excavators, or track-hoes, are perhaps the most recognizable heavy machinery around, and on most sites a full-size excavator will be one of the largest machines in use. With its long arm and bucket, the tracked vehicle is designed to lift or dig material, and transport it to another point, be that a different area or loaded onto a truck. The tracks provide traction that makes them really suitable for rough terrain, and you will often find these machines fitted with tree shears or specialized grapples for removing trees on logging sites. The smaller, mini machines are very popular for small construction jobs, working in backyard plot or other restricted access areas.
Built to dig, carry and load material, the backhoe is a versatile machine common on almost any site. With a backhoe arm at the rear, essentially a smaller version of the excavator arm, and a loader bucket in the front, the backhoe can carry out the tasks of two other machines at once. In size, it is much bigger than the skid steer loaders, and can carry larger loads, but smaller than an excavator, although this makes it more maneuverable for precise excavation work. As a do-it-all machine, a backhoe is one you will find on almost any construction site in the country.
Tracked for the ultimate versatility in any conditions, dozers are designed to move soil or rock, by pushing it. Size depends on horsepower, some dozers can be extremely large, depending on the amount of material that is needed to be moved and the site itself. Dozers can often be fitted with extra equipment in addition to the blade at the front that is used to push the soil and rocks, with a ripper attachment at the rear used for moving rocks that are embedded into the ground, and often a winch, which can be used for removing stumps or other obstructions.