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Excavators are heavy construction equipment consisting of a boom, dipper (or stick), bucket and cab on a rotating platform known as "the house". The house sits atop an undercarriage with tracks or wheels. They are a natural progression from steam shovels and often mistakenly called power shovels. All movement and functions of a hydraulic excavator are accomplished through the use of of hydraulic fluid, with hydraulic cylinders and hydraulic motors. Due to linear actuation of hydraulic cylinders, their mode is fundamentally different from cable-operated excavator wich uses winches and steel ropes to accomplish the movements.

Excavators are also called diggers, JCBS, (aproprietaryname, in example of a general trademark), mechanical shovels, or 360-degreexcavators (sometimes abbreviated simply to 360). Tracked excavators are sometimes caled 'tracked hoes' by anology to the back hoe. In the UK, wheeled excavators are sometimes known as "rubber ducks".

Excavators are used in many ways:

  • Digging of trenches, holes, foundations
  • Material handling
  • Brush cutting (with hydraulic attachments)
  • Forestry work
  • Forestry mulching
  • Demolition
  • General grading/landscaping
  • Mining
  • River dredging
  • Driving piles
  • Drilling shafts for footing and rock blasting (auger or hydraulic drill attachments)
  • Snow removal (with snow plough and snow blower attachments)

The a many different types of excavator:

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