Excavators are multipurpose equipment because they may be outfitted with several attachments. No matter the task at hand, from digging and grading to crushing and demolition, there is an excavator attachment that is the right fit for the job. In fact, there are a plethora of excavator attachments out there, making it difficult to select the best for the job at hand.
In this article, we’ll examine the various excavator attachments and the jobs they’re most suited for. This article will help you understand the possibilities of various excavator attachments and pick the ones that will best fit your needs, whether you’re a contractor trying to grow your fleet or a homeowner looking to undertake some DIY tasks. The universe of excavator attachments awaits in this ultimate guide, so let’s dig in!
Types of Excavator Attachments
Excavators owe their versatility to the different kinds of attachments that are available to them. Attachments for excavators are broken down into different types based on how the excavator is used. The below table gives a quick overview of the attachments used in different application scenarios.
- Excavation Attachments – Excavation bucket (with many variants)
- Demolition Attachments: Hydraulic Hammer, Shear, Pulverizer, Cold Planer
- Material Processing Attachments: Screen, Crusher
- Agriculture, Forestry, and Landscaping Attachments: Hydraulic Auger, Ripper, Trencher, Landscape Tiller, Brushcutter, Mulcher, and Wheel Saw
- Material Handling Attachments: Pallet Fork, Bale Grabs, Grapple
- Compaction Attachments: Vibratory Plate Compactor, Vibratory Wheel Compactor,
- Adapters: Tilting
Though these attachments have been classified into different types based on their application scenarios, many a time you will find a lot of cross usage of attachments. Read this article to knpw more.
The bucket is the most basic and commonly used attachment for an excavator. In simple words, a bucket is a metal container that can carry material. Given the kind of jobs that excavators do, the regular excavator bucket attachments are usually heavy, rugged, and manufactured with high density metal alloys. All buckets are also packed with varying types of cutting edges, bucket teeth, and other accessories as needed for the job. Also, buckets are generally sized and shaped depending on the material handled and the kind of earthmoving task at hand.
Buckets can be classified into different types depending on the following:
- Size: defined by different sizes or tonnage
- Duty: defined by the kind of material used to manufacture the bucket and its load and wear bearing capacities. e.g., standard, heavy duty, etc.,
- Material handled: defined by the kind of material handled by the bucket. e.g., coal, rock, etc.,
- Purpose: the kind of purpose the bucket is used for. e.g., trench cutting, gutter cleaning, digging, etc.,
- Shape: defined by the shape and dimensions of the bucket. e.g., clam, trapezoidal, etc.,
Buckets are the simplest attachments that can be used with an excavator. Newer generations of attachments also come with more and different ways of utilising hydraulic power. Buckets can be attached to a rotating adaptor or a hydraulically powered multi-purpose adapter, making them even more versatile.
The hammer attachment, also known as the hydraulic breaker or rock breaker, is a powerful tool that is used for breaking up rocks, concrete, asphalt, and other hard materials. At its most basic level, a hydraulic hammer attachment works by using hydraulic pressure to deliver repeated blows to the material, breaking it apart into smaller pieces. The operator can control the force and frequency of the hammer blows, making it a precise and efficient tool for demolition and excavation work.
Hydraulic hammers are effectively large jackhammers that can demolish and break more than human operated hammers can ever do. As with all excavator attachments, the hydraulic hammer is also typically made of high-grade steel and comes in a range of sizes and designs to suit different project requirements. Most of the time, the hammer attachment is used to do demolition work, like breaking up concrete foundations or taking down old buildings.
Evidently, the key advantages of the hammer attachment is its speed and efficiency. With the ability to break up rocks, concrete, and other hard materials quickly, the hammer can significantly reduce project timelines and labour costs. Precision is another advantage of the hammer, especially when working in tightly packed cityscapes where explosive blasting for demolition is not possible.
A shear attachment (also called as demolition shear or hydraulic shear) for an excavator is made to cut and remove metal objects like steel beams and pipes during demolition and construction projects. A shear attachment looks like a pair of curved scissors and plays a similar role, albeit cutting stronger materials like metal. The attachment is typically made of heavy-duty steel and comes in a range of sizes and designs to suit different applications and requirements. The excavator shear comes with replaceable cutting edges that are made of specialty grade steel.
The hydraulic system of the excavator powers the cutting arms or blades of the shear attachment, which lets the operator cut through the metal object with precision. The operator can control the speed and pressure of the cutting process, making it a precise and efficient tool for demolition.
As with all excavator attachments, the shear is a force multiplier when it comes to demolition because of how quickly and effectively it works. Sometimes, the shear can also be used for precision work, including pipe clamping, with special accessories added to it. In the end, the speed, accuracy, and versatility of the excavator shear attachment make it a useful tool for any construction or excavation project that involves demolition work.
A pulverizer attachment for an excavator is a special tool made to break up concrete, rock, and other hard materials into smaller pieces that are easier to throw away or recycle. The pulverizer attachment uses the hydraulic power from the excavator to move a number of interlocking crushing jaws or plates. The pulverizer can also be used to crush concrete for easy removal after demolition. Because of this, these attachments are also called concrete crackers.
Mechanically, the pulverizer is made and operates the same way as the demolition shear, but it is usually bigger and has more crushing teeth or cutting edges. The pulverizer is optimized to destroy concrete, while the shear is not. Overall, the pulverizer retains all the advantages of a shear, including its speed and accuracy.
The pulverizer attachment also adds versatility to excavators by coming in various sizes. Usually, pulverizers are used with long reach excavators to help them reach the higher floors of tall buildings during a demolition.
A cold planer is an attachment that works with an excavator and is used to mill or grind down asphalt or concrete surfaces. Most of the time, this part is attached to the arm of the excavator and is powered by the hydraulic system of the excavator. The cold planer consists of a rotating drum with carbide teeth that grinds down the surface of the pavement, creating a smooth, level surface. Cold planers are the right attachment for resurfacing projects where pavements or other surfaces are ground down and then covered with new pavement or other surface materials.
The cold planer attachment is efficient and can remove material from any surface quickly. Adding to this, the cold planer attachment gets more precise in its cuts depending on the skill of the excavator operator.
A wheel saw attachment is a heavy duty rotary saw used to cut through hard surfaces such as rock, concrete, and asphalt. Depending on the material it’s built to cut, the wheel saw is also known as a “rock saw” or a “concrete saw” or even “block cutter”. The saw, cutting edges, and teeth, are made of materials ranging from specialty steel to high density tungsten carbide or diamond, whichever is suitable for the application scenario.
The attachment consists of a wheel with a circular cutting blade attached to it. The attachment derives its power from the hydraulic system of the excavator and can rotate at very high RPMs. The wheel saw is built to cut through any block or boulder of hard material with excellent precision, making it possible to finish projects faster and save money on labor.
Many times, wheel saw attachments are faster and more accurate than other traditional demolition equipment like hammers or rippers. This accuracy helps the wheel saw attachment work in a lot of specialty applications like pavement repairs, precision wall repairs, rock sizing, etc., In addition to these, wheel saws have also been used in forestry applications.
A crusher attachment or crusher bucket for an excavator is a powerful tool that can break up concrete, asphalt, and other hard materials into smaller pieces that are easier to dispose of or recycle. The attachment is typically made of heavy-duty steel and comes in a range of sizes and designs to suit different project requirements. The crushing mechanism uses the same mechanical principles as the regular jaw crusher.
The hydraulic system of the excavator powers the attachment’s crushing mechanism, such as a jaw or hammer, which breaks up the materials. The operator can control the speed and intensity of the crushing process, making it a precise and efficient tool for demolition and excavation work.
The crushers are quick and efficient but are usually limited in the amount of material they can process. Even though crusher attachments only handle a small amount of payload, they still save money on transportation costs. In other words, these attachments crush material at the point of loading itself instead of depending on a hauling process to take material to be crushed elsewhere in a larger jaw or cone crusher. Hence, these are useful in landfills and other small quarries for crushing concrete, granite, basalt, and other rocks.
A screen attachment for an excavator is used to sort and screen soil. The attachment is typically made of heavy-duty steel and features a mesh screen that filters out different sizes of materials, such as rocks, sand, and soil. The mesh screens are usually replaceable and can be shaped as per the requirements of the screening at the project site.
The hydraulic system of the excavator powers the screen attachment, which shakes or rotates the material through the mesh screen as it moves back and forth or round and round. The operator can control the speed and intensity of the shaking or rotating, allowing for precise screening of different types of materials. If the screen works through a rotating motion, then it’s called a rotary screen attachment. If it works through vibrations or shaking, it’s called a shake bucket or vibratory screen attachment.
Both of these types of screens have speed, versatility, and efficiency. These buckets are used in different application scenarios depending on the material that is being screened and sorted. The attachment is mostly used in construction projects involving soil segregation.
An auger attachment for an excavator is a special tool that can be used to drill holes in the ground for things like fence posts, planting trees, building foundations, and taking samples of the soil. The attachment is typically made of heavy-duty steel and comes in a range of sizes and designs to suit different application scenarios.
The excavator’s hydraulic system powers the auger’s drill bit or drill plate. The operator can efficiently and quickly use the auger attachment to drill holes in the ground as needed at precise locations. The auger is primarily used in the agriculture and forestry industries for seeding, planting, and the movement of trees. Auger attachments also help in drilling holes in construction sites for foundation pillaring, soil quality tracking, etc., Augers are fast and versatile attachments and are very efficient.
According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, a “trench” is “a long cut in the ground.” Trenching, simply put, is the digging of a trench. Excavators come with a special attachment called the trencher for digging trenches. It is commonly used for laying pipes, cables, or other underground utilities.
The trencher attachment is typically made of heavy-duty steel and comes in a range of sizes and designs to suit different project requirements. The excavator’s hydraulic system is what powers the recent generation of trencher attachments.
The trencher is made up of a rotating chain system lined with multiple rows of digging teeth made of high grade steel, which helps create narrow, precise trenches. Some could say that the trencher looks like a chainsaw that cuts directly into the ground instead of wood. Trenchers can use thicker teeth or multiple chains, depending on the width of the trench required. Many trenchers also have a rotary conveyor system that helps move the dirt and rocks out of the trench and put them somewhere else.
Like all excavator attachments, the key advantages of the trencher attachment lie in its speed and efficiency. The trencher can cut project timelines and labor costs by a lot because it can dig quickly and accurately.
The brushcutter attachment helps clear thick brush and tall grass from areas. The attachment typically consists of a circular cutting blade or blades mounted on the end of a long arm, which is connected to the excavator’s hydraulic system.
The brushcutter attachment is great for getting rid of overgrown areas in that would be hard to get rid of with regular lawn mowers. It is commonly used in land clearing projects, highway and road maintenance, and construction site preparation. As it is coupled with an excavator, it can get to inaccessible areas like steep slopes, rocky terrain, and tight spaces.
The cutting blade can easily cut through thick brush, tall grass, and even small trees, making it an ideal tool for clearing large areas in a short amount of time. The blades of the brushcutter will have to replaced depending on its wear and tear.
A mulcher is an excavator attachment that is utilized for the removal of vast quantities of trees, brush, and stumps. Like other attachments, the mulcher relies on the hydraulic system of the excavator for power. There are two types of mulchers, namely the drum mulcher and the disc mulcher, which operate differently mechanically.
The drum mulcher has a large drum that spins rapidly and has sharp teeth made from extremely hard material. It is slower in clearing vegetation compared to the disc mulcher. The drum mulcher is ideal for vertical mulching, such as mulching tall trees and vegetation.
The disc mulcher, in contrast, has a fast-spinning disc with sharp teeth on the ground-facing side and the disc’s edges (like a rock saw). It is mainly used at the surface level to clear brush and stumps on the ground. The disc mulcher covers more ground per hour than the drum mulcher, but it is less effective in mulching hard wood trees..
Overall, the mulcher attachment is quick and efficient, and it is typically used to clear land for construction or farming purposes.
The stump grinder attachment is a specialized tool for excavators that can remove tree stumps quickly and efficiently. It has a spinning disc with sharp teeth that grinds stumps and roots into small pieces, and the excavator’s hydraulic system powers it. The attachment can remove stumps of any size or shape, making it more effective than traditional methods like digging, burning or using chemicals.
The stump grinder also improves safety, as it eliminates manual labor and reduces the risk of injury. Moreover, the attachment is easy to install and remove, allowing operators to switch between tasks quickly without additional equipment. Overall, the stump grinder attachment for an excavator is a powerful and versatile tool for removing tree stumps quickly, safely and efficiently.
A grapple saw attachment on an excavator is a powerful tool that combines the functions of a grapple and a chain saw into one unit. Most of the time, the attachment is a heavy-duty hydraulic grapple that has a saw blade on the end. The grapple lets the operator hold and move big things safely, and the saw blade lets them cut branches, trees, and other plants quickly and easily.
The grapple saw attachment is often used in forestry and land clearing jobs where large trees and brush need to be removed quickly and efficiently. The attachment is especially helpful in places that are hard to get to or where traditional ways of cutting down trees don’t work. By combining the functions of a grapple and a saw, the attachment makes land clearing faster and easier. This saves time and money compared to traditional methods of land clearing.
The grapple saw attachment can also be used to maintain utilities and infrastructure. It can be used to trim and remove branches near power lines or to clear vegetation around pipelines and other infrastructure. Overall, the grapple saw attachment on an excavator is a versatile and powerful tool that can save time and money in a variety of applications.