Hydraulic excavators have various capabilities far beyond its traditional bucket-type tasks. Many of these machines are equipped with quick coupling mechanisms to facilitate the use of several different types of excavator attachments. These excavator attachments can make it possible for an excavator to be utilized in many more ways than simple digging tasks. The most commonly used excavator attachments are known as buckets, blades, breakers, grapples, and augers.
Buckets are the most commonly used excavator attachments. A bucket is typically attached to the arm of an excavator and has approximately the same inner volume as a blade attachment. The term “bucket” may have been derived from buckets used in water wheels and turbines.
Many modern excavators are equipped to use a device known as a blade or back-fill attachment. A blade attachment is a horizontal metal plate fitted to the undercarriage of the machine. These bulldozer-like excavator attachments are used for pushing and leveling soil, sand, and other removed material back into place.
Breakers are very powerful hammer-like devices that are often used to demolish concrete structures and rocks. These types of excavator attachments utilize an additional hydraulic system from the excavator, which is equipped with a foot-operated valve provided specifically for this purpose. Demolition crews typically utilize breakers in areas that are too large for a jackhammer or where safety or environmental concerns prevent the use of explosives. Construction and demolition workers generally refer to a breaker attachment as a hoe ram.
Grapples are claw-like excavator attachments primarily used in logging-type operations. A grapple is hydraulically powered and has at least two opposing levers that are used to pinch logs and other materials in order to drag or lift them to another location. Grapples are attached to an excavator by means of a movable arm that is used to extend, retract, pivot or rotate the claws of the device. Excavators employing grapple attachments are also used for the placement of pipes and poles at construction sites.
An auger is another type of attachment that is often used with an excavator. These hydraulically powered drill-like devices come in a wide range of lengths and diameters and are typically used to bore holes for pipes and poles. Excavators with auger attachments are often used in road construction and for the installation of water and natural gas lines. This type of attachment is sometimes used to bore holes beneath roadways for pipe crossings.