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Construction equipment machines working from above
Construction equipment machines working from above
Construction Equipment Machines & Their Uses
5 Minute Read
Kevin Forestell headshot
Kevin Forestell
March 22, 2021

Construction Equipment Machines And Their Uses

There are so many different attachments, makes, models, sizes, and uses of construction machines. If you were to group construction equipment by their main types – excavators, loaders, lifts, trenchers, graders, etc – you’d end up with upwards of 16 “categories” of equipment.  A challenge with this mindset is that it perpetuates the idea that machines should be looked at for what they are, not what they do. 

In order to challenge this mindset, here is another way to categorize construction equipment: by their use. This is the alternative thinking that is starting to become more prevalent in the equipment rental industry. When presented with a new project,  contractors are starting to think “what job do I need to do?” not “How can I use my backhoe in this project?”

There are five main uses or categories that can help to group machines. These include digging, moving, working at heights, demolition, and compaction.


Digging is the action that most people think about when they think of construction. More often than not, the excavator is the main piece of equipment that comes to mind. That may be why many people simply call an excavator a “digger”. There are plenty of other construction machines, however, that can be used for digging.

Digging machines working from above

The Excavator

An excavator is an interesting machine to talk about because it itself incorporates a wide range of machine types and attachments. Long-reach excavators, mini ex, heavy-duty excavators, and tracked and wheeled excavators can all be fitted with a variety of bucket types such as rock buckets, grading buckets, and buckets with thumb attachments. Then there are other types of attachments such as augers, concrete cutters, shears, grapples, etc. 

While the excavator is a pretty diverse machine, the variety of sizes, power types, and attachments make it more versatile than you may think.


Backhoes are usually looked at as the Swiss army knife of the industry. It’s pretty flexible and can be used for a variety of jobs. The loader side of the machine also makes it a great moving machine. For jobs that need a bit of both, backhoes remain a popular choice.

Skid Steers and Compact Track Loaders

Although skid steers – also called compact track loaders – are most commonly used for moving and lifting dirt and materials, their buckets can be used to remove dirt or topsoil to a certain degree. These machines can be fixed with an auger attachment which would allow them to dig down into the ground. They are popular in smaller projects, home projects, or projects that require a bit more maneuverability in moving materials.


When digging happens, so does a stockpile of material. So, what types of machines are out there for moving this material both around the site and off-site?

Front loader driving carrying load of dirt


Loaders are typical machines for lifting and dumping large quantities of material. With a variety of sizes and buckets, loaders can move everything from 1 yard to 7 yards. If lifting and moving are all you need to do, especially if you have large quantities of material to move, then a loader is a great option.


Telehandlers – or material handlers – have recently been recognized as an incredible machine for moving and piling up snow for snow removal. With the marriage of a boom lift, a skid steer, and a forklift, the telehandler is being seen more often on construction sites. They are also growing in popularity within the snow removal industry

The bonus of a telehandler is that you can use a bucket attachment to move and stack loose materials at heights but you can also use the forklift attachment to lift pallets or other materials to different floors or levels on a construction site. 

Depending on what it is you need to move and where you need to move it, a telehandler could be a great option for your project.

Skid Steers

Small but mighty, skid steers are often paired with mini excavators to move dirt and materials for smaller projects or in smaller spaces. Since they’re lighter and can be fitted with both wheels or tracks, skid steers can be used on all types of terrain. They are also popular for homeowners or small residential projects.


The power of tractors has helped move them off the farm and into other project types and uses. While tractors have traditionally been used as pulling machines on farms, they are growing in snow removal, material moving and in other “moving” jobs in residential and urban areas. 

The big selling point for tractors is that they consume less gas and are easier to drive and maneuver than some other moving machines.

Articulating Dump Trucks, Rock Trucks, Dump Trucks, and PickUp Trucks

While many of the machines above are great for moving materials on-site or when loading it into trucks, they aren’t great for moving longer distances or on roads.  Articulating dump trucks, rock trucks, dump trucks, and pick-up trucks are great for moving materials across larger sites or off-site on public roads.

Working at Heights 

There are a lot of different at-height machines out there.

Man lifts working on steel frame of new construction building

Articulating Boom Lifts

If you need to work at heights but need a bit more movement and flexibility to work around other objects, then an articulating boom lift is right for you. With the ability to maneuver the arm in a variety of ways, the articulating boom lift can work for so many projects.

Straight Boom Lift

Straight boom lifts, or telescopic boom lifts, are great for working at super heights. Some straight boom lifts can reach as high as 180 feet. The straight boom lift is commonly used for outdoor projects or for working on the exterior part of a project.

Scissor Lift

Scissor lifts are popular for interior work such as finishing interior lighting, painting, hanging drywall, etc. Scissor lifts are also great for homeowners for smaller jobs such as hanging seasonal decorations


Demolition is a really specific type of job that doesn’t necessarily use new machines but uses specific machines in different ways.

Long Reach Excavators

Long-reach excavators are popular in pulling down walls and buildings in a more controlled way than explosives or wrecking balls. They are reliable machines that can take down a variety of material types such as steel, concrete, wood, brick and more.


Bulldozers are almost as iconic in the demolition industry as wrecking balls. Bulldozers, also called dozers, are incredibly heavy-duty and powerful machines that can push materials, collapse walls and plow through any barriers. The back of a bulldozer often features a ripper which can help to break up large pieces of material and to make it easier to transport.

Loaders, Skid Steers, and Backhoes

Moving machines also go hand in hand with demolition machines since a big part of a demo project is moving the material to make demolition safe and to move it off-site. 


Compaction machines are popular when finishing off foundations or for road work.

compaction machines with tire tracks in dirt

Single and Double Drum Compaction 

Single and double-drum compaction machines are the most commonly seen machines for compaction. They have one job, and they do it well. 

Depending on the compaction level needed, padfoot or smooth drums can be used to achieve what it is you’re looking for. Although they are one of the lesser-known machines, they are incredibly important.

Construction Equipment Machines and Their Uses

Next time you are trying to choose a machine, try first thinking about what it is you need to do and then identify what machine is going to help you achieve that first. 

If you don’t know what machine could help make your project more efficient, give the DOZR team a call. We’d be happy to help you find the best machine for your project.

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Straight Boom Lift image
40 ft - 180 ft
Electric, Dual Fuel
Articulating Boom Lift image
30 ft - 150 ft
Electric, Dual Fuel
Telehandler image
5,000 lbs - 15,000 lbs
15 - 56 ft
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Kevin Forestell headshot
Kevin Forestell
Kevin Forestell is CEO of DOZR and one of the co-founders. Kevin first got started as an entrepreneur when he founded Forestell Landscaping right after graduating from University. His love and passion for the industry and desire to help solve an equipment problem that contractors faced every day is what brought the founding team to start DOZR. Kevin is proud of the level of efficiency brought to the industry through DOZR and hopes that DOZR will help change the standard way equipment is rented.
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