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Excavator - A Commonly Used Heavy Machinery

from: Smruti Ranjan Sarangi

Excavators are heavy equipment used in civil engineering and surface mining. An excavator, also called a 360-degree excavator or digger, sometimes abbreviated simply to a 360, is an engineering vehicle consisting of a backhoe and cab mounted on a pivot (turntable is a more apt description) atop an undercarriage with tracks or wheels. The term excavator is sometimes used as a general term for any piece of digging equipment.

Roles of Excavators

Excavators are used in many roles:

1- Digging of trenches, holes, foundations 2- Demolition 3- General grading/landscaping 4- Heavy lift, e.g., lifting and placing of pipes 5- River dredging 6- Mining, especially, but not only open-pit mining 7- Brush cutting with hydraulic attachments

Varieties of Excavators

Excavators come in a wide variety of sizes. The smaller ones are called a mini-excavator or compact excavator. One manufacturer's largest model weighs 84,980 kg (187,360 lb) and has a maximum bucket size of 4.5 m³ (5.9 yd³). The same manufacturer's smallest mini-excavator weighs 1470 kg (3240 lb), has a maximum bucket size of 0.036 m³ (0.048 yd³) and the width of its tracks can be adjusted to 89 cm (35 inches). Another company makes a mini excavator that will fit through a doorway with rails that can be tailored to only 70 cm (28 inches) wide.

Often the bucket can be replaced with other tools like a breaker, a grapple or an auger. Excavators are usually employed together with loaders and bulldozers. Most smaller excavators have a minor backfill (or dozer-) blade. It's a horizontal bulldozer like the blade attached to the undercarriage and is used for pushing removed material back into a hole.

Examples of Excavators

1- Compact excavator, A compact hydraulic excavator, is a tracked or wheeled vehicle with an approximate operating weight of 6 metric tons (13,228 lbs). It generally includes a standard backfill blade and features independent boom swing. The compact hydraulic excavator is also referred to as a mini excavator.

The compact hydraulic excavator is somewhat unique from other construction equipment in that all movement and functions of the machine are accomplished through the transfer of hydraulic fluid. The compact excavator's workgroup and blade are activated by hydraulic fluid acting upon hydraulic cylinders. The excavator's slew (rotation) and travel functions are also activated by hydraulic fluid powering hydraulic motors.

2- Dragline excavator

Dragline excavation systems are heavy equipment used in civil engineering and surface mining. In civil engineering, the smaller types are used for road and port construction. The more important types are used in strip-mining operations to extract coal, and these are amongst the most extensive mobile equipment (not water-borne), and weigh in the vicinity of 2000 metric tonnes, though specimens weighing up to 13,000 metric tonnes have also been constructed.

A dragline bucket system consists of a large bucket which is suspended from a boom (a large truss-like structure). The bucket is maneuvered using several ropes and chains. The hoist rope, powered by large diesel or electric motors, supports the bucket and hoist-coupler assembly from the boom. The drag rope is used to draw the bucket assembly horizontally. By skillful maneuver of the hoist and the drag ropes, the bucket is controlled for various operations.

3- Bucket-wheel excavator Bucket-wheel excavators are heavy equipment used in surface mining and civil engineering. The excavation component itself is a large rotating wheel mounted on an arm or boom. On the outer edge of the wheel is a series of scoops or buckets. As the wheel turns, the buckets remove soil or rock from the target area and carry it around to the backside of the wheel, where it falls onto a conveyor, which carries it up to the arm toward the main body of the excavator. Additional conveyors then may carry it further; in some cases, several long conveyors are placed end-to-end, each supported by a sizeable vehicular base.

Unusually large bucket-wheel excavators, over 200 meters long and up to 100 meters in height, are used in German strip-mining operations and are the largest earth-movers in the world. These massive machines can cost over $100 million, take five years to assemble, require five people to operate, weigh more than 13,000 tons, and have a theoretical capacity of more than 12,000m³/h. Correctly, the RB293 bucket wheel excavator manufactured by MAN Takraf is recognized by Guinness World Records as the largest land vehicle.


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