4 Types of Heavy Construction Equipment and Their Uses

Heavy Construction Equipment
  • Author: Mohsin Khan
  • Posted On: December 20, 2022
  • Updated On: December 20, 2022


The manufacturing sector is heavily dependent on machines for work. This is because construction requires equipment like jackhammers and drills to dig through and prepare the area for numerous construction projects.

However, as a construction worker, you must educate yourself about these machines and how to use them. There are over 160,000 heavy machinery operators employed in the US.

Each individual has received specialized training and education to operate different heavy machines safely. This is because mishandling these large pieces of equipment can lead to drastic outcomes.

You can accidentally injure yourself, ruin its internal components, or in extreme cases, poor handling and reckless usage can cost someone their life. Hence, read on to learn about some standard equipment and their uses:

Aerial Lift

An aerial lift is a machine used to lift people, equipment, and tools to a certain height. For instance, if you are cutting down a tree, working on a power line, or climbing up a building under construction, you may need an aerial lift.

Since this is a technical tool that requires you to understand how much weight you can load on top and how to carefully control it so you can safely raise an individual to a certain height, for which you need proper training.

If you plan on operating an aerial lift, study, practice, get certified, and inform yourself of the OSHA regulations you must follow as you control the tool.

Furthermore, there are numerous types of aerial lifts; picking the right one for the job depends on the area you are working on, how high you need to go and what you are lifting. This includes aerial ladders, which are mechanical ladders attached to trucks that allow workers to safely climb tall buildings, power lines, and high platforms.

On the other hand, boom lifts are another type of aerial life. Their purpose is to raise workers several stories high and lift material to hard-to-reach places like the top of a building.

In contrast, scissor lifts are self-propelled machines with crisscross designs. Scissor lifts, unlike boom lifts, can only go up or down, so they need to be close to the area you are working. Generally, most scissor lifts go up to twenty to fifty feet and are used in indoor maintenance like ceiling repair.


If you want to push, dig, excavate, level areas like the soil or get rid of debris, you need a bulldozer. These large machines have heavy blades that can push all kinds of materials.

Certain bulldozers have rippers attached to them to break through tough ground and dig a hole. There are generally three different types of bulldozers: the crawler, wheel, and mini bulldozer.

Coming to the first category, a crawler moves material from one area to another. If you are working on irregular terrain, you need a crawler to help you navigate.

This is because the bulldozer has a ripper attached to it, which allows the machine to have a firm grip as it moves, preventing it from toppling over.

A wheel dozer is best used for softer terrains and gentler tracks. While it is slightly bigger than a crawler, it is suitable for unsteady ground that crumbles easily. Lastly, a small bulldozer is a compact machine for grading and clearing lots. It is much more versatile than its counterparts and can handle more straightforward tasks.


Trenchers are another popular machine used to create trenches or deep holes in the ground. These trenches are meant to lay down pipelines and cables and set up road drainage systems. There are two types of trenching machines, namely chain and wheeled trenchers.

Chain trenchers have a long arm with a digging chain fixed at an angle. On the other hand, wheeled trenchers have a metallic wheel with a digging chain wrapped around it, which makes it far more suitable to hack through intricate layers.


You need an excavator to dig a construction site, demolish buildings, or carry out landscaping or drilling. This machine comprises four primary parts: the cab, boom, stick, and bucket.

The cab is fixed on a platform that rotates with wheels underneath it. Like most construction equipment, there are also different types of excavators. These include crawlers, which are large excavation machines with tracks attached to the bottom.

Crawlers can assist you in moving heavy debris and soil. Likewise, there are wheeled excavators also available on the market. These look similar to crawlers but have wheels instead of tracks. Wheeled excavators help maneuver concrete and asphalt along flat surfaces. However, tracks are more steady than wheels, so use this tool when working on concrete or uneven surfaces.

Finally, another type of excavator is the vacuum excavator. This has a suction pipe that can provide up to 400 horsepower.

The suction excavator has a unique way of functioning. It first releases a strong water jet to loosen the ground, which creates a vacuum to suck up the debris up to 200 miles per hour. This is best for clearing any area quickly instead of digging through the layers.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to construction work, you must familiarize yourself with the standard equipment for handling different projects. This is because each construction equipment is designed for a specific purpose and needs proper handling. If you’re not careful with managing these tools, chances are you will injure yourself and damage the delicate equipment.

While the construction tools list is exhaustive, popular options include the aerial lift, bulldozer, trenchers, and excavator. Aerial lifts help raise equipment, workers, and tools to a certain height. If you are using a bulldozer, this machine can help you dig and clear debris or move material from one area to the other.

Furthermore, if you need to lay down pipework or set down cables, you need a trenching machine to do the job. Finally, if you have to demolish the building, clear the land or dig holes, you need an excavating device. Before you handle these tools, you receive the proper training and certifications to uphold all OSHA regulations and standards.

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Author: Mohsin Khan

Mohsin has worked as one of the experienced editors with ConstructionHow since 2020 with a total span of 5 years of experience in business PR, boasting a remarkable professional trajectory, he has collaborated with entrepreneurs and startups, and certain publications over the last few years. His unwavering interest lies in the construction industry and related materials. He believes in creating functional and aesthetically pleasing buildings, and homes that fall under the right budget. With a wide range of experience in construction, he also tapped into DIY and home improvement projects based on his extensive set of knowledge in the industry.