Excavator: is an engineering vehicle consisting of an articulated arm (boom, stick), bucket and cab mounted on a pivot (a rotating platform, like a Lazy Susan) atop an undercarriage with tracks or wheels. Their design is a natural progression from the steam shovel.
Excavators are used in many ways:
- Digging of trenches, holes, foundations
- Material handling
- Brush cutting with hydraulic attachments
- Demolition
- General grading/landscaping
- Heavy lift, e.g. lifting and placing of pipes
- Mining, especially, but not only open-pit mining
- River dredging
- Driving piles, in conjunction with a Pile Driver

Though many companies produce Hydraulic excavators today. Komatsu is the top producer of Hydraulic Excavators worldwide, for every one competitive model there are three Komatsu Excavators

Types of excavator:
- Compact excavator
- Dragline excavator
- Long reach excavator
- Steam shovel
- Power shovel
- Suction excavator

And here is a little explanation for each type of excavators:

1- Compact excavator:

A compact hydraulic excavator or mini excavator is a tracked or wheeled vehicle with an approximate operating weight from 0.7 to 7.5 metric tons. 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 different 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 work group 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.

Most compact hydraulic excavators have three distinct assemblies:

a- House
The house structure contains the operator's compartment, engine compartment, hydraulic pump and distribution components. The house structure is attached to the top of the undercarriage via a swing bearing. The house, along with the workgroup, is able to rotate or slew upon the undercarriage without limit due to a hydraulic distribution valve which supplies oil to the undercarriage components.

Slewing refers to rotating the excavator's house assembly. Unlike a conventional backhoe, the operator can slew the entire house and workgroup upon the undercarriage for spoil placement.

b- Undercarriage
The undercarriage consists of rubber or steel tracks, drive sprockets, rollers, idlers and associated components/structures. The undercarriage supports the house structure and the workgroup.

c- Workgroup
The workgroup of a compact hydraulic excavator consists of the boom, dipper or arm, and attachment (i.e. auger, bucket, breaker, etc.). It is connected to the front of the excavator's house structure via a swing frame that allows the workgroup to be hydraulically pivoted left or right to achieve offset digging for trenching parallel with the tracks

d- Independent Boom Swing
The primary purpose of boom swing is for offset digging around obstacles or along foundations, walls or forms. A secondary use is cycling in areas too narrow for cab rotation. Independent boom swing is one of the major advantages of a compact excavator over other excavation equipment.

e- Backfill blade
The backfill blade is used for grading, leveling, backfilling, trenching, and general dozer work. The blade can be used to increase dump height and digging depth depending on its position in relation to the excavator's workgroup, this makes it very versatile.

There are two distinct classes of compact excavators, conventional tail swing - units that have a rear counterweight that will extend beyond the tracks when the house rotates, and zero-tail swing - units with a house whose diameter stays within the width of the tracks through full rotation. Zero-tail swing units allow the operator to focus on digging and not watching where he or she is swinging.

In recent years, hydraulic excavator capabilities have expanded far beyond excavation tasks. With the advent of hydraulic powered attachments such as a tilt rotator, breaker, a grapple or an auger, the excavator is frequently used in many applications other than excavation and with the tilt rotator attachment, actually serves as an effective tool carrier. Many excavators feature quick-attach mounting systems for simplified attachment mounting, dramatically increasing the machine's utilization on the jobsite.

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 larger types are used in strip-mining operations to move overburden above coal, and for tar-sand mining. Draglines are amongst the largest mobile equipment (not water-borne), and weigh in the vicinity of 2000 metric tons, though specimens weighing up to 13,000 metric tons have also been constructed.

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

In a typical cycle of excavation, the bucket is positioned above the material to be excavated. The bucket is then lowered and the dragrope is then drawn so that the bucket is dragged along the surface of the material. The bucket is then lifted by using the hoist rope. A swing operation is then performed to move the bucket to the place where the material is to be dumped. The dragrope is then released causing the bucket to tilt and empty. This is called a dump operation.

The bucket can also be 'thrown' by winding up to the jib and then releasing a clutch on the drag cable. This would then swing the bucket like a pendulum. Once the bucket had passed the vertical, the hoist cable would be released thus throwing the bucket. On smaller draglines, a skilled operator could make the bucket land about one-half the length of the jib further away than if it had just been dropped. On larger draglines, only a few extra meters may be reached.
Draglines have different cutting sequences. The first is the side cast method using offset benches; this involves throwing the overburden sideways onto blasted material to make a bench. The second is a key pass. This pass cuts a key at the toe of the new high wall and also shifts the bench further towards the low-wall. This may also require a chop pass if the wall is blocky. A chop pass involves the bucket being dropped down onto an angled highwall to scale the surface. The next sequence is the slowest operation, the blocks pass. However, this pass moves most of the material. It involves using the key to access to bottom of the material to lift it up to spoil or to an elevated bench level. The final cut if required is a pull back, pulling material back further to the low-wall side.

Draglines in mining

Dragline at the Curragh Coal Mine A large dragline system used in the open pit mining industry costs approximately US$50-100 million. A typical bucket has a volume ranging from 30 to 60 cubic meters, though extremely large buckets have ranged up to 168 cubic meters.[1] The length of the boom ranges from 45 to 100 meters. In a single cycle it can move up to 450 metric tons of material.

Most mining draglines are not diesel-powered like most other mining equipment. Their power consumption is so great that they have a direct connection to the high-voltage grid at voltages of between 6.6 to 22 kV. A typical dragline, with a 55 cubic meter bucket, can use up to 6 megawatts during normal digging operations. Because of this, many (possibly apocryphal) stories have been told about the blackout-causing effects of mining draglines. For instance, there is a long-lived story that, back in the 1970s, if all seven of the Peak Downs (a very large coal mine in central Queensland, Australia) draglines turned simultaneously, they would black out all of North Queensland.

In all but the smallest of draglines, movement is accomplished by "walking" using feet or pontoons, as caterpillar tracks place too much pressure on the ground, and have great difficulty under the immense weight of the dragline. Maximum speed is only at most a few metres per minute[2] since the feet must be repositioned for each step. If travelling medium distances, (about 30-100 km), a special dragline carrier can be brought in to transport the dragline. Above this distance, disassembly is generally required. But mining draglines due to their reach can work a large area from one position and do not need to constantly move along the face like smaller machines.


The primary limitations of draglines are their boom height and boom length, which limits where the dragline can dump the waste material. Another primary limitation is their dig depth, which is limited by the length of rope the dragline can utilize. Inherent with their construction, a dragline is most efficient excavating material below the level of their base. While a dragline can dig above itself, it does so inefficiently and is not suitable to load piled up material (like a rope shovel can).
Despite their limitations, and their extremely high capital cost, draglines remain popular with many mines, due to their reliability, and extremely low waste removal cost.

Draglines, unlike most equipment used in earth-moving, have remained relatively unchanged in design and control systems for almost 100 years. Over the last few years, some advances in dragline systems and methodologies have occurred.


Researchers at CSIRO in Australia have a long-term research project into automating draglines and have moved over 250,000 tones of overburden under computer control.
Simulation software.

Since draglines are typically large, complicated and very expensive, training new operators can be a tricky process. In the same way that flight simulators have developed to train pilots, mining simulator software has been developed to assist new operators in learning how to control the machines.


UDD stands for Universal-Dig-Dump. It represents the first fundamental change to draglines for almost a century, since the invention of the 'miracle hitch'. Instead of using two ropes (the hoist rope and the drag rope) to manipulate the bucket, a UDD machine uses three ropes, two hoists and one drag. This allows the dragline operator to have much greater selectivity in when to pick up the bucket, and in how the bucket may be dumped. UDD machines generally have higher productivity than a standard dragline, but often have greater mechanical issues. Within the mining industry, there is still much debate as to whether UDD improvements justify their costs.

3- Long reach excavator
The long reach excavator or high reach excavator is a development with an especially long boom arm, that is primarily used for demolition. Instead of excavating ditches, the long reach excavator is designed to reach the upper stories of buildings that are being demolished and pull down the structure in a controlled fashion. Today it has largely replaced the wrecking ball as the primary tool for demolition.

4- Steam shovel

A steam shovel is a large steam-powered excavating machine designed for lifting and moving material such as rock and soil. It is the earliest type of power shovel.
The steam shovel was invented by William Otis, who received a patent for his design in 1839.
The first machines were known as 'partial-swing', since the dipper arm could not rotate through 360 degrees. They were built on a railway chassis, on which the boiler and movement engines were mounted. The shovel arm and driving engines were mounted at one end of the chassis, which accounts for the limited swing. Bogies with flanged wheels were fitted, and power was taken to the wheels by a chain drive to the axles. Temporary rail tracks were laid by workers where the shovel was expected to work, and repositioned as required.
Steam shovels became more popular in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Originally configured with chain hoists, the advent of steel cable in the 1870s allowed for easier rigging to the winches.

Later machines were supplied with caterpillar tracks, obviating the need for rails to be laid.
The full-swing, revolving shovel was developed in England in 1884, and this became the preferred format for these machines.
Expanding railway networks (in the US and the UK) fostered a demand for steam shovels; it can be said that the extensive mileage of railways, and corresponding volume of material to be moved, forced the technological leap. As a result, steam shovels became commonplace.

During the 1930s steam shovels lost out to the simpler, cheaper diesel-powered excavating shovels that were the forerunners of those still in use today. Open-pit mines were electrified at this time. Only after the Second World War, with the advent of robust high-pressure hydraulic hoses, did the more versatile hydraulic backhoe shovels take pre-eminence over the cable-hoisting winch shovels.

Many steam shovels remained quietly at work on the railways of developing nations until diesel engines supplanted them. Most have since been scrapped.

A steam shovel comprises:
• a bucket
• boom and 'dipper stick'
• boiler
• water tank and coal bunker
• steam engines and winches
• operator's controls
• a rotating platform on a truck, on which everything is mounted
• wheels (or sometimes caterpillar tracks or railroad wheels)
• a house (on the platform) to contain and protect 'the works'
The shovel has several individual operations: it can raise or luff the boom, rotate the house, or extend the dipper stick with the boom or crowd engine, and raise or lower the dipper stick.
When digging at a rock face, the operator simultaneously raises and extends the dipper stick to fill the bucket with material. When the bucket is full, the shovel is rotated to load a railway car or motor truck. The locking pin on the bucket flap is released and the load drops away. The operator lowers the dipper stick, the bucket mouth self-closes, the pin relocks automatically and the process repeats.

Steam shovels usually had a three-man crew: engineer, fireman and ground man. There was much jockeying to do to move shovels: rails and timber blocks to move; cables and block purchases to attach; chains and slings to rig; and so on. On soft ground, shovels used timber mats to help steady and level the ground. The early models were not self-propelled; rather they would use the boom to maneuver themselves.

5- Power shovel
A Power shovel (also stripping shovel or Front Shovel) is a bucket equipped machine, usually electrically powered, used for digging and loading earth or fragmented rock, and mineral extraction.

Shovels normally consist of a revolving deck with a power plant, driving and controlling mechanisms, usually a counterweight, and a front attachment, such as a boom or crane which supports a handle with a digger at the end. The machinery is mounted on a base platform with tracks or wheels. The bucket is also known as the dipper. Modern bucket capacities range from 8 m3 to nearly 80 m3.

Power shovels are used principally for excavation and removal of overburden in open-cut mining operations, though it may include loading of minerals, such as coal. They are the modern equivalent of steam shovels, and operate in a similar fashion.


The shovel operates using several main motions:
• hoist - pulling the bucket up through the bank (i.e. the bank of material being dug)
• crowd - moving the dipper handle out or in to control the depth of cut and when positioning to dump
• swing - rotating the shovel between digging and dumping
• propel - moving the shovel unit to different locations or dig positions

A shovel's work cycle, or digging cycle, consists of four phases:
• digging
• swinging
• dumping
• returning
The digging phase consists of crowding the dipper into the bank, hoisting the dipper to fill it, and then retracting the full dipper from the bank. The swinging phase occurs once the dipper is clear of the bank both vertically and horizontally. The operator controls the dipper through a planned swing path and dump height until it is suitably positioned over the haul unit (e.g. truck). Dumping involves opening the dipper door to dump the load, while maintaining the correct dump height. Returning is when the dipper swings back to the bank, and involves lowering the dipper into the tuck position to close the dipper door.

6- Suction Excavators

At The End of this Report We hope that we gave this important topic what does it need and that we succeeded in presenting the information’s that we have been able to find about excavators.