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The Different Types of Construction Equipment

Updated on July 12, 2011

If you're in the construction industry or are interested in starting your own construction organization, it's important to understand the many different types of construction equipment available so that you know what you need for your specific purposes. Construction equipment ranges from the very large and heavy to the light and portable, and each piece of equipment serves a useful purpose. However, you may only need a few pieces of construction equipment to meet your needs. The following article describes some of the most popular types of construction equipment that you can buy for a variety of uses that range from farm work to deconstruction to building projects.

Skid Steer

First of all, skid steers are a general term that describe a variety of equipment that are all characterized by a specific type of steering called skid steering. A skid steer is maneuvered through a system of braking and engaging the tracks or wheels on one side of the vehicle. The wheels on the side are in a fixed condition, and the driver moves the vehicles by literally making the wheels skid.

Because of their special driving method, skid steers are known for being capable of turning tightly and adeptly pivoting. And a person can purchase a variety of attachments for a skid steer in order to make it perform a variety of functions including jack hammering, loading, digging, and moving. Skid steers are also known for being particularly durable which is why many choose to purchaseused skid steers. Used skid steerscan perform all of the same functions as a new skid steer, but they cost significantly less.


The crane is another popular piece of construction equipment that is mainly used for deconstruction. Cranes are operated by a series of cables that lower and lift materials and are mainly used on projects dealing with temporary structures.

Backhoe Loader

A backhoe loader is a type of construction equipment that has a front bucket or shovel and a small backhoe in the rear. And the entire piece of equipment is combined with a tractor. A backhoe loader has a comparatively small frame which allows the driver to have more control over its movement. Because of its relatively small size and easy maneuverability, the backhoe loader is great for small construction projects. It works well in urban areas for projects such as road repair. In fact, they are one of the most popular types of construction vehicles used in urban areas.


The crawler is another type of construction vehicle and is also called a bulldozer (as are all heavy engineering vehicles). A crawler is essentially a tractor that has a dozer blade attached to it. Crawlers are powerful vehicles commonly used for a variety of bigger construction projects.


A loader is another type of construction vehicle that is also known as a bucket loader, front-end loader, scoop loader, or front loader. Essentially, a loader is a tractor that uses a front mounted square bucket connected to the end of two arms to scoop, lift, and move materials. Materials often transported with a loader include asphalt, demolition debris, dirt, feed, gravel, logs, recycled materials, rock, sand, wood chips, and so on. Loaders are frequently used to move material to another type of machinery such as a dump truck, conveyor, open trench excavation, or rail car.


An excavator is a general type of construction and engineering vehicle that has an articulated arm and a bucket and a cab that is mounted on a pivot. Excavators have a variety of uses for both farm and construction work. Some of the projects excavators can assist in include digging trenches, holes, and foundations, handing materials, cutting brush, performing forestry work, demolishing structures, gardening, landscaping, heavy lifting, mining, dredging river, and driving piles.

And a specific type of excavator is the compact excavator. A compact excavator is a tracked or wheeled vehicle that usually has a backfill blade and an independent boom swing. Many compact excavators function on hydraulic fluid, which means that the vehicle's work group and blade are activated by hydraulic fluid that is acting on cylinders. This hydraulic function of the compact excavator set it apart from other types of construction equipment.


A forklift is a high-powered vehicle used to lift and transport heavy items and materials. Forklifts come in many varieties of sizes and load capacities. The majority of forklifts are not used in construction projects, but rather in manufacturing facilities or warehouses that require frequent lifting and transporting of heavy materials.

Road Roller

A road roller is also known as a roller-compactor and is used mainly in road construction but can be used for a variety of other purposes including compacting soil, gravel, concrete, or asphalt. In some parts of the world, road rollers are commonly known as steam rollers. Road rollers are commonly used with pavers that are used to spread asphalt on roadways.

Motorized Cultivator

A motorized cultivator is a piece of equipment commonly used for farm work. Motorized cultivators have rotating blades called rotary tillers that work in the soil. The tillers can either be drawn behind a tractor or can be self propelled. Motorized cultivators can be used for a variety of purposes including weeding and digging.

Whether you're looking atused skid steers, compact excavators, or another piece of construction equipment, knowing more about all the types of construction equipment available will help you know what construction equipment will be best for your needs.


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