If you find yourself asking “What is heavy-duty equipment?” or “What is the difference between compact equipment and heavy equipment?” you’re not alone.
The terms “heavy-duty” equipment or “heavy equipment” are commonly used to describe larger construction equipment, but they’re not technical terms. There isn’t an exact weight or size when something is considered heavy. It’s industry slang.
The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) separates some types of construction equipment into size classes. For example, AEM classifies any excavator that weighs less than 13,227 pounds as a mini excavator. However, many manufacturers and operators call an 8 ton (16,000 lb) machine a mini excavator. Clearly even when there is a technical term, usage can vary.
AEM has no definition for what qualifies as heavy equipment. Whether a piece of equipment is heavy or heavy-duty is personal opinion. So what is heavy-duty equipment? Whatever you think it is.
What Industries Use Heavy Equipment?
The most common owners and operators of heavy equipment are in the public infrastructure (roads and bridges), utility construction and commercial and residential construction industries.
Heavy equipment is also commonly used in demolition, waste management and recycling, forestry, quarrying, mining, landscaping, grounds maintenance (snow removal) and agriculture.
Common Types of Heavy Equipment
The following is a list of types of heavy equipment sold by Doosan in North America. There are other categories of equipment, but this list has some of the most commonly found machines.
Articulated Dump Truck (ADT)
Articulated dump trucks (ADTs) also called articulated haulers, off-road trucks and rock trucks, are used for hauling material on rough terrain.
An ADT has a cab and engine in the front section, which is connected to the dump body by an articulation joint. This lets the two sections move independently, which helps the ADT move over uneven ground. It also gives the ADT a relatively tight turning radius.
You can find ADTs on large construction sites and in mines and quarries.
Doosan calls an excavator a crawler excavator if it has tracks and is larger than 9 tons. Any excavator below 9 tons Doosan refers to as a mini excavator.
Excavators are versatile machines that are usually operated whenever large amounts of material need to be dug out. They also are used to pick up and place heavy objects and to demolish structures. Excavators can also be equipped with attachments that add to their versatility. Thumbs are among the most popular excavator attachments for use with buckets.
The three main parts of an excavator are the undercarriage, the house and the front workgroup.
The undercarriage is the section that makes contact with the ground, and is usually steel or rubber tracks. The house consists of the cab where the operator sits, the engine, and hydraulic and electrical systems of the machine. The boom is the section that extends out of the machine. It’s connected to the arm. The operator can move the boom up and down, extend the arm out or pull it inwards. The arm is usually equipped with a bucket or attachment. It can be available in different lengths to meet various applications.
A wheel excavator is an excavator that moves on tires instead of tracks. Wheel excavators are more comfortable to drive on concrete and asphalt than track machines, and the tires won’t damage these surfaces like steel tracks can. These two qualities make them well-suited for utility work, street maintenance or any construction where the machine will primarily move on hard surfaces.
Wheel excavators also travel faster than track machines, so they can be a good choice when the machine needs to travel long distances frequently, like in a city or on a large jobsite.
Wheel excavators are commonly equipped with one or two sets of stabilizers. When lowered, these provided enhanced stability for the operator.
Log loaders are specially equipped machines for the forestry industry. Log loaders are used to harvest trees and load logs onto trucks or stack logs in a yard.
Log loader operators commonly sit in a cab that is raised above the house. This gives them a better view for picking up and placing logs. The cab may be outfitted with additional guarding to help protect the operator from falling trees and branches.
Since these machines are usually used in the woods, log loader undercarriages have a higher clearance to help them move over objects on the ground.
The front work group designed to make it easier to pick up and stack logs high. Log loaders are commonly fitted with special grapple attachments for picking up logs.
Road builders are part log loader and part heavy-duty excavator. These machines are used to pioneer — to clear trees, brush and pull out stumps for roads into new logging tracts.
Road builders have a reinforced cab, but the cab is not raised as it is in a log loader. They have the front workgroup of an excavator and a reinforced undercarriage with greater ground clearance like a log loader.
Road builders can be found in applications outside of forestry and logging; for example, loading rock in a crusher or working at a demolition site.
Material handlers are built to pick up unevenly sized material and place it in a container, truck bed, railcar or pile. These machines are most commonly found in recycling yards.
Common material handler features include:
- Raised cabs so the operator can see over the sides of trucks and on top of scrap piles. Machines come with a fixed raised cab or a hydraulic rising cab.
- A droop-nose arm that makes it easier to pick up an object and place it neatly over the side of a container.
- Heavy-duty undercarriages to withstand working around scrap metal.
- Grapple and magnet attachments to help pick up uneven or magnetic metal.
Material handler undercarriages can be tracks or wheels.
Wheel loaders are most commonly used to move material from one place to another. When equipped with a bucket, wheel loaders can be used to create piles and load into trucks and containers. Smaller wheel loaders are often equipped with attachments like pallet forks, brooms, snow pushers and even snowblowers.
Wheel loaders are versatile machines. They can be found loading ADTs at a construction site or in a quarry, or pushing snow in a box store’s parking lot. When large amounts of material need to be moved, a wheel loader is often the best machine for the job.
Ready to Get in a Cab?
Once you’ve determined the right machine for your company, consider whether to rent to own, lease or buy.