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What are excavators used for? You might see them when you drive by a construction site, but did you know there are several kinds of them? Construction sites and industrial applications rely on excavators for many different jobs like assisting in demolition, digging trenches, and even excavating mines.

Explore the different excavators and what they’re used for to see how these machines help build the world around us!


Crawlers don’t have wheels; instead, they move around thanks to a chain wheel system, comprised of belts underneath them that give them the stability to crawl over debris and scale hills. Heavy-duty construction and mining sites use crawlers, and you might see them in other sites where there’s uneven terrain.

Skid Steer

Skid steer excavator look a little different than others because the bucket faces away from the driver. Why? This setup allows this excavator to maneuver in tight or narrow places, like digging for a pool installation, thanks to the arm’s capability of reaching over the cab instead of around it.


Dragline excavators are massive pieces of equipment— so big they’re usually built onsite. They consist of a rope and pulley system that raises and lowers a bucket to remove debris deep in the ground for applications like canal dredging or road excavations.


Suction excavators literally suck the ground apart! This unique excavator releases a high-pressured stream of water to loosen debris or soil. Then, it sucks up the material at hundreds of miles per hour. Underground projects use suction excavators since they are less likely to cause damage.

Long Reach

Long reach excavators have a super long arm that can reach into spots other excavators can’t. The arm can be hundreds of meters long to crush or cut, depending on the attachment. Demolition sites use long reach excavators, and you might see them working over a body of water.

Maintaining Excavators

Isn’t it impressive how these different excavators and what they’re used for allow us to build homes, create bridges, and mine for raw materials? But there’s a lot of work that goes into keeping these machines working. Crews keep their ground engaging equipment like excavators well-maintained with visual inspections, repairing parts that have become worn, and by sticking to replacement schedules.

Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.