October 28

The 20 Most Popular Construction Vehicles Today

Last Updated on January 3, 2023

Construction companies utilize numerous types of construction vehicles and other machines. The nature of the job determines which equipment is necessary. Oftentimes, the general public—and even the media—get the names of these vehicles wrong. Here are the names of the 20 most popular construction vehicles today!

Table of Contents

  1. Excavators 
  2. Wheel loaders
  3. Backhoes
  4. Dozers
  5. Graders
  6. Scrapers
  7. Skid steer loaders
  8. Compact track loaders
  9. Compact excavators
  10. Asphalt pavers
  11. Compactors
  12. Slipform pavers
  13. Telehandlers 
  14. Telescopic boom lifts
  15. Articulated boom lifts
  16. Scissor lifts 
  17. Mobile cranes
  18. Boom trucks
  19. Dump trucks
  20. Concrete mixers

Excavators

Excavators are present at almost every construction site! This is a tracked machine with a long “arm”, which bends similar to a human arm. At the end of the arm is an attachment. Frequently—and originally—the attachment is a bucket. However, these machines are capable of so much more than digging and loading. They can be equipped with attachments designed for demolition, landscaping, utilities, grounds maintenance, agriculture, and more.

Manufacturers have developed more than 100 types of attachments for excavators. Plus, excavators range in size from about eight tons to 80 tons. The largest ones are used in mining. Heavy civil projects require 30-ton-plus excavators. Excavators smaller than eight tons are called compact excavators and are considered a separate category of machine (see below).

Excavators image

Wheel Loaders

A wheel loader can be driven similar to a car and usually comes equipped with a large bucket—a bucket which spans the entire width of the machine and has a large opening. The bucket is attached to two short arms, which provide up and down mobility. Wheel loaders are great for cutting into a pile of material, traveling farther distances (due to faster speeds), and truck loading. Larger ones are popular at mines and quarries. They can be equipped with other attachments as well. 

Popular attachments include forklifts for handling palletized material and grapples for handling long, loose material. Some wheel loaders use an articulated joint to turn. This means the front and rear of the machine are attached using a single joint, which allows for the machine to turn. Most wheel loaders have front wheels that turn like a car. 

Wheel Loaders image

Backhoes

A backhoe is a wheeled machine with a front that appears similar to a wheel loader, but has the long excavator arm on the rear. This machine can essentially do the jobs of the aforementioned construction vehicles, which makes it the most versatile machine in the construction industry. Backhoes can even be equipped with many different attachments. 

When an operator wants to switch from loader function (front) to backhoe function (rear), the seat swivels 180 degrees. Backhoes were originally called tractor loader backhoes, because a tractor frame was used as the basis for creating the backhoe. 

Backhoes image

Dozers

Dozer is a shortened form of the largely archaic term “bulldozer”. This was originally called a wheel-type tractor, since the frame of the dozer was originally built from the frame of a tractor—just like a backhoe—but it’s equipped with tracks instead of wheels. These track-type tractors, equipped with a bulldozer blade, were filmed by American media aiding the allies during WWII. The media mistakenly called the machine a bulldozer and the machine eventually became known as that. The main duty of the machine is to push, usually dirt in road building applications or garbage in waste applications.

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Dozers image

Graders

Graders can manipulate the earth in a few different ways. They are long, narrow machines with a cab positioned near the rear and a blade located in the middle of the machine. The blade is used to bring an elevation to grade. When fine grading—millimeter accuracy—GPS devices are attached to the machine. These integrate with machine controls and either inform the operator how accurate the grade is or control the blade without operator intervention. Most popular applications include road building and snow removal.

Graders image

Scrapers

The previously mentioned machines have been mostly earthmovers, and the scraper is no exception. It has two very specific purposes—cut layers of earth from one location and dump it in another location. A scraper features a cab-forward design, and is similar to a low-height truck and trailer in its appearance. This machine even articulates similar to a truck and trailer combination. 

Scrapers image

Skid Steer Loaders

Skid steer loaders (skid steers) are similar to wheel loaders but, whereas the arms of the wheel loader are attached near the front of the machine, the arms of the skid steer loader are attached at the rear of the machine. They are also generally smaller in size compared to wheel loaders. They have similar lift capacities, and are fast, maneuverable, and can be equipped with many of the same attachments as wheel loaders. 

However, these are frequently referred to as “Bobcats,” since the Bobcat brand has become near synonymous with the machine itself.  

Skid Steer Loaders image

Compact Track Loaders

These machines are identical to skid steer loaders except for one detail—tracks. Tracks provide better terminability and flotation compared to wheels, and they provide the opportunity to rotate 360 degrees within the frame of the vehicle. They are great for use in rough terrain, sandy, and sensitive environments, since they produce about as much ground pressure as an adult and have great traction. 

Compact Track Loaders image

Compact Excavators 

These are excavators that weigh up to eight tons. When Takeuchi first introduced them, some dismissed them as toys, but they have since proven to be very useful. Their greatest benefit is putting mechanical strength in small spaces. Some have retractable undercarriages, so they can fit into a 36-inch opening, such as an exterior door or a household gate. 

The trend toward building houses closer and closer together is pushing even smaller sizes of compact excavators. And, since it’s easier to electrify the smallest equipment, there are more electric and hybrid compact excavators than most other machine categories. Now, both their small size and lack of emissions make them great candidates for interior work, especially demolition and tunneling. 

Compact Excavators image

Asphalt Pavers

On the subject of roadbuilding, most roads and highways are made of asphalt and paved using asphalt pavers. These machines have a hopper (similar to the bed of a truck) at the front of the machine, a bridge-style operating station high up near the center of the machine, and platforms on either side of the machine. The paver follows bumper to bumper behind a dump truck while the dump truck empties asphalt mix into the paver’s hopper. Augers move the mix to the screed, which places the asphalt. A second person stands on the rear platform and monitors the output.

Asphalt Pavers image

Compactors

Compactors manipulate asphalt, soil, and other material to achieve a certain density. Several compactors will follow a paver when working a road or highway. They travel forward and backwards. Some have two compacting drums, and others have one drum at the front with tires on the rear. Some exclusively use tires for compaction. 

A smooth drum is used for compacting asphalt. A padfoot drum—a drum with bumps in it—is used for compacting soil.

Compactors image

Slipform pavers

These machines pave concrete items such as curbs and around gutters. They are tall machines with three legs and one track on each leg. A conveyor reaches from near ground height to almost the top of the machine where a bridge-style operating station is located.

Slipform Pavers image

Telehandlers

Moving on to lift equipment – a lot of construction happens several stories up. And companies need an efficient means of transporting materials, such as lumber, drywall, and shingles, up there. The telehandler is similar to a wheel loader in appearance, except it’s closer to the ground, has one telescopic “arm” called a boom instead of two, and usually comes equipped with a forklift attachment for moving palletized material. Although, there are a few other attachment options. The boom extends out to achieve greater lift heights. 

Telehandlers image

Telescopic Boom Lifts

These are similar to telehandlers except the attachment is a cage-like operator’s station and there’s no cab. This allows the operator to position himself anywhere within the operating range of the machine. Instead of lifting material, the machine lifts people. If you have a boom lift, you don’t need a ladder or scaffolding to access places higher up. These machines are popular in multi-story construction and maintenance. These machines are popular among installers, welders, electricians, and plumbers who work with heights.

Telescopic Boom Lifts image

Articulated Boom Lifts

These machines are similar to telescopic boom lifts. The only difference is how the boom extends. A telescopic boom extends in a straight line just like a telescope. An articulated boom is composed of several segments which unfold. The advantage of an articulated boom is it offers multiple lift paths. A telescopic boom can only extend in a straight line, but an articulated boom can unfold in many directions, so it can maneuver around obstacles. 

Articulated Boom Lifts image

Scissor Lifts

Scissor lifts are another mobile equipment working platform. On this lift, the platform extends straight up. The metal legs open in a scissors-like fashion. It’s used both indoors and outdoors for working at height. 

Scissor Lifts image

Mobile Cranes

Also called a truck crane, a mobile crane is a crane attached to a trucks’ chassis. It has a truck cab when in transportation mode and a cab at the rear of the truck to operate the crane. They Ssurprisingly have greater lift capacities than stationary cranes. They are used to lift building materials very high, to lift really heavy objects such as righting an overturned truck, and even the erection of stationary cranes. 

Mobile Cranes image

Boom Trucks 

These trucks have a long open trailer and a boom. The operator uses controls located on the side of the truck or on a remote to load and unload the vehicle. Boom trucks are often equipped with a forklift attachment for handling palletized material, but can be equipped with various attachments, such as a grapple for handling logs, poles, pipes, and other long material. By attaching a boom to the truck, a second machine isn’t necessary for loading/unloading. That means deliveries and pickups can be completed without interrupting the construction site’s workflow.  

Boom Trucks image

Dump Trucks

Dump trucks come equipped with large, deep truck beds. Some are street legal and some are strictly off-road. The on-road trucks are on an on-road truck chassis and feature box-like beds. Off-road trucks are on an off-road truck chassis and have spoon-like beds. They also have an articulation joint near the center of the vehicle, allowing for greater hauling capacities. 

Dump Trucks image

Concrete Mixers 

These construction trucks are equipped with a large mixer drum and a conveyor. They are loaded with concrete at a concrete batch plant, then sent to transport the material. The rotation of the drum helps keep the ingredients mixed and stops the concrete from setting. Once the concrete is loaded into the drum, it needs to be placed within 60-90 minutes. Otherwise, the concrete will no longer meet specification and gets wasted. 

Concrete Mixers image

If you’re interested in finding one of these machines for use in your own companies, then why not take a look at what Municibid includes in its catalog? There you will find a variety of construction equipment , affordably priced, and maybe in your neck of the woods!


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