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12 Mar 2023

What Heavy machinery do I need and Why?

How many active job-sites have you seen with no heavy equipment? Pretty much none. Heavy equipment is indispensable for projects of almost any size, whether its homebuilding to large-scale commercial and civil jobs. Thanks to the diversity in size and applications of heavy equipment, projects can be completed a lot faster with productivity at an all-time high.

Although heavy equipment has been around since at least the 1950’s, there has been a lot of industry innovation and reinvention over the following 70 years. With excavators alone, not including attachments there are at least 10 different types.

Note the term “heavy” is not made in reference to weight or size of the machine, rather the heavy-duty nature of the tasks it performs.

There are a broad range of heavy machinery, each with their own set of uses. See below the top 14:

1. Excavators

Also known as “diggers”, excavators are potentially the most popular and most used piece of heavy equipment in the construction industry. Excavators come standard with a boom arm that does the excavation work, attached to a pivoting cab that can rotate a full 360 degrees. Excavator can be driven on tracks or wheels, depending on the job. With tracks you can navigate a variety of terrains and conditions without having to worry about leaving the deep impressions you can get with wheels. With wheels however, you will be able to move a lot quicker.

These machines can complete almost any excavation job with the models ranging from 1.5T up to 350T, along with all the sizes you can imagine in between.

Mini Excavators: Great for small, hard-to-reach areas on construction sites, and ideal for small scale and DIY projects.

Medium Excavators: Excellent for home improvement projects, large scale renovations, and medium to large-scale construction sites.

Large Excavators: Large and powerful machines suited for high-volume, large-scale projects.

From small backyard dig outs to major mining projects, excavators are used in all sorts of projects. Great for excavating, demolishing, hauling, brush removal and even forestry applications. You can simply change the attachment from a standard bucket to a ripper, grab, rock breaker or auger attachments, and the capabilities and versatility of the excavator increases.

2. Bulldozers

Also known as track-type tractors and crawlers, bulldozers are one of the strongest and most reliable pieces of heavy equipment used in the construction industry. These workhorses are used to move piles of earth across large open tracts of land and are designed to push hard and consistently for a long time.

Operated by two hydraulic pistons, bulldozers have a wide blade on the front that can be slightly moved within a limited ranges of angles and depths. There are a few different types of blades, including the fat, edgeless straight blade, curved universal blade, and semi-universal combination blade.

They are often seen on the larger jobs, such as housing estate developments, mining and quarry work, but are also commonly used for basic projects simply to push materials from one place to another.

 3. Wheel Loaders

Wheel loaders are a well needed heavy machine as material transporters on mining, quarry and construction operations. Their large front bucket allows them to carry more materials than most other heavy equipment, while their durable wheels make them fast and manoeuvrable on the job site.

4. Skidsteer Loaders

Skidsteer Loaders are some of the smallest heavy equipment but are among the most versatile machines available in the construction industry. They are an asset on most construction and agricultural projects, designed to maximize work with a minimal footprint. Being small and nimble with excellent manoeuvrability, they are great for jobs in confined spaces as they can turn on the spot.

Skidsteers are great for small to medium projects that need material moved often. These handy loaders come in a few different sizes and can be fitted with a variety of attachments to perform everything from lifting to push to drilling. The bucket arm can lift well above the machine.

5. Rollers

Rollers are a type of heavy machinery used to compact ground materials. They can come in a range of types, the main difference being whether they are a Padfoot or Smooth Drum Rollers.

Smooth Rollers: As the name suggests, the drum of the roller is smooth. Using a combination of powerful vibrations and pressure, smooth rollers create smooth surfaces out of gravel, sand, or dirt. There are both single and double drum variations available.

Padfoot Rollers: Also known as Sheepsfoot Rollers, Padfoot Rollers provide static pressure and vibration and generate manipulative force, to make soil more compact and solid.

Rollers are often used on road construction projects, as well as smaller projects such as driveways and residential yards to smooth and level terrain. Being immensely strong, rollers can flatten surfaces quickly and effectively. These machines are essential to the road construction process, without the compaction it provides the asphalt would crumble when laid.

6. Plate Compactors

Plate compactors are used to crush and compact a surface to make a level, flat area. Their heavy, vertically vibrating plate force the debris to break down and compact with quick and repetitive movements.

There are 3 different types of Plate Compactors:

Single Plate: Great for smaller asphalt or building projects, such as home renovations or laying sidewalks and driveways.

Reversible Plate: Ideal for projects that require more versatility as these machines operate in many different directions.

Heavy-duty Plate: Suitable for larger industrial, construction or roading projects.

7. Dump Trucks

Dump Trucks are an essential piece of heavy equipment, used on almost every large jobsite. These machines act as a larger version of a tipper, offering limited function but performing the task of moving and dumping different types of heavy material.

Dump trucks are available in many sizes to cater for different capacity and load needs, ranging from small utility type trucks with dumping beds to massive dump trucks used in mining operations. They are designed to handle off-road conditions whilst carrying high quantities of materials. Dump trucks are road ready, meaning they can travel anywhere large equipment is permitted when bringing material in or out of a site.

There are two types of dump trucks; articulated and rigid. Articulated dump trucks are used on medium-sized projects and often with difficult terrain, whilst rigid dump trucks can carry more material on major mining projects with even terrain.

8. Telehandlers

Telehandlers are one of the several types of heavy construction equipment that can help you lift materials. This machine can help you move almost anything with its telescopic boom that enables a forward and upward reach. They are like a forklift, but more heavy duty and more suitable for outdoor jobs or bulk material moving inside a warehouse. It can also access much higher areas as well. With an extendable arm and large tyres, you can load in high places even on off-road sites.

There are a variety of telehandlers to choose from, depending on lift height, load capacity, and frame size. Different types of attachments can be added to make them the most versatile piece of machinery you have on your worksite, such as pallet forks, buckets, and lift platforms.

9. Tipper Trucks

A tipper truck is an ideal piece of heavy equipment for construction projects, used to bear heavy weights and transport materials such as dirt, gravel, sand, asphalt, construction aggregate, wood chips in bulk. They are versatile and carry heavy loads to and from a site without having to make a lot of trips. These reliable machines have a heavy-duty truck chassis fitted with an open-top body, which tips up to deposit material. Used in a variety of industries, including construction, landscaping, waste management and more.

10. Graders

Graders are task-specific heavy equipment found on a range of projects from road construction to mining, and most large-scale jobs. Graders are also used to level and clear ground on infrastructure projects, housing estates and more. The grading blade is found between the front articulating wheels and the cab and back wheels, which makes for a long machine with an impressive range of movement. Designed to level the ground of a project to a set level, this is an essential role in road construction as to be built properly the ground needs to be perfectly level.

11. Knuckle Booms

Also known as a basket crane or cherry picker, knuckle booms are a type of aerial lift mechanism used to allow workers to reach elevated work areas. A hydraulic lift system is used to operate the crane that lifts the bucket. Typically, the bucket is large enough for one or two workers to stand in. Not only are they used in construction, forestry, and farming projects, but also get used for window cleaning, firefighting, painting and more.

12. Scissor Lifts

A scissor lift is an aerial work platform that acts as a stronger and safer alternative to a standard ladder. This is a heavy machine comprised of steel and a series of crossed beams and struts. Providing a stable work area for workers, excellent for material handling, warehouse storage, construction projects, and commercial building maintenance.

13. Forklifts

Another piece of heavy equipment used to transport items short distance around a worksite or warehouse is a forklift. Operated by a steering wheel and dashboard controls, the lift can move both vertically and horizontally. There are several types of forklifts, including:

Counterweight: Have a built-in counterweight system to remain stable without using arms to directly transport products.

Side loaders: Designed to load materials directly from a storage rack easily, making it ideal for warehouses with limited workspace and bulky materials.

Pallet jack: Small and easy to operate, designed to specifically move pallets around a warehouse.

Warehouse: Used to move supplies, products, and shipments quickly around a warehouse.

14. Rough Terrain Vehicles

Rough Terrain Vehicles – or RTVs – are incredibly useful tools for a variety of purposes. These compact, motorized transporters are used to move workers or equipment across construction sites.

Need to hire any of these heavy construction machines?

At Pronto Hire we have a range of construction equipment available for short and long term dry hire. Whether you need a skidsteer for a day or a fleet of construction machinery for 8 months, we can help you out. With depots in both Silverdale and Warkworth, we are ready and able to service Auckland and its surrounds, and the North. Contact us now!

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