The term heavy equipment is used to refer to any heavy-duty machine used in construction, mining, or agriculture. These machines are often used to carry out earth moving tasks, but they can also be used for demolition, transportation, or agricultural tasks.
The purpose of this resource guide is to talk about the various types of heavy machinery used in the market today, the role of the heavy equipment operator in the current market of the construction area, as well as to give an in-depth overview of the aid that lends the heavy equipment to the constructors when finalizing works with maximum efficiency.
What are the machines used in construction?
Currently there are a large variety of heavy equipment in use, they are generally classified into one of three categories:
This category is what comes to people’s minds when the words heavy equipment are mentioned. The most common earth moving machines are excavators, tractors, front loaders and backhoes.
Excavators are very important in construction because they allow a single operator to do the work of a dozen employees. Excavators are generally used to excavate ditches in which pipes or cables are installed for public services, irrigation lines, or bases to build buildings.
The ability to excavate ditches by breaking a hard and rugged ground with minimal effort makes these machines indispensable for personnel working on construction sites.
Even workers engaged in gardening have found that excavators offer a quick and effective means of digging irrigation ditches, such as those used for irrigation lines. In the clay soils of the southwestern United States, having an excavator is a must for any construction company that values productivity and efficiency.
Tractors and backhoes
They are very common in places where construction works are carried out, since they allow a single operator to move large amounts of land and materials with ease. A large tractor can frequently move more than twenty cubic yards of loose material per trip, and a cubic yard can weigh, in some cases, more than a ton!
The D6 tracked tractor is one of the most popular tractors on the market along with the Komatsu D65 which is its only real competitor on the market when talking about medium size.
The backhoes have a perfect combination, as it has a loading bucket in the front and an articulated arm with bucket for excavation in the back. The excavation arm is generally used for digging ditches, although it can be used for light demolition tasks. The loading bucket on the front is perfect for moving and transporting loose materials.
They’re very popular pieces of heavy equipment because their front buckets are capable of transporting heavy loads of loose material efficiently. Some of these units are capable of handling several tons of material at a time, and can easily deposit their loads on a conveyor belt, in the bed of a dump truck, or simply move the product around a construction or mining location.
Machine for Agriculture
At the beginning of the 20th century, it was estimated that a farmer could produce enough food to feed about twenty-five people. Currently, that number has increased and now there are one hundred and thirty people. The main difference is the heavy equipment that is used daily in agricultural communities.
Some of the most used agricultural machines are tractors, plows, seeders, and irrigation platforms. The tractors have been used for years, and have become increasingly efficient thanks to the use of quick dismantling instruments and accessories.
Growers are commonly used to prepare the soil and throw seeds. They do an admirable job preparing the soil base to ensure the success of the harvest of seeds and fruits.
The planters are designed to introduce seeds into the soil at predetermined intervals, and make the life of the agricultural worker much easier than before. Irrigation platforms provide the necessary water in large quantities, and in a much faster way compared to other irrigation processes.
The agricultural machinery can be specifically oriented to a task, while the machinery used in construction can fulfill several functions, however the fundamental bases of both are similar. Taking advantage of the power of hydraulic elements, powerful diesel engines, and heavy-duty steel bodies, these machines are designed to work.
Material Movement / Handling
Heavy Equipment such as cranes, forklift trucks, and aerial work platforms represent some of the machines considered under the category of movement and material handling. These machines are designed to move bulky, heavy loads, generally difficult to transport, traveling short and moderate distances, and are built to be resistant and safe.
Cranes commonly used in the construction industry include crawler cranes and truck-mounted cranes. Crawler cranes have a mobile platform that allows them to move forward while holding a load. They are able to do this without stabilizers and can travel through the job sites with ease.
Truck-mounted cranes are not as maneuverable around the job site, and require stabilizers, but can go to multiple work sites on their own. The crawler cranes have to be dismantled and transported to a new place of work by means of a trailer with a flat bed.
Fork-type forklifts are seen in areas as diverse as marine loading docks, department stores, and agricultural applications. These can work with liquid propane, diesel, natural gas or electricity.
Aerial work platforms are used in construction and are ideal for use as temporary scaffolds, as well as for transporting materials from ground level to a higher altitude – and vice versa.
Heavy equipment operators must be trained to operate these powerful machines.
The role of the heavy equipment operator is to command and direct these powerful machines. Those who operate these steel beasts must be well trained and have the necessary knowledge to move heavy loads of earth and materials and the dynamics to work on this type of machine weighing ten or more tons.
In addition to following the general safety requirements for the operation of any piece of heavy machinery.
The operators of heavy equipment are the ones that control the heavy machinery used for the construction of roads, buildings, bridges and other general structures. They can use these machines to move heavy materials on construction sites and mines.
Cleaning and surface screening to prepare the construction of roads, airport runways and other facilities is an additional responsibility. Operators of heavy equipment can also operate industrial vehicles or tractors equipped with elevators or arms for handling construction materials.
These operators can also perform the general maintenance of the machines in the works.
Working conditions for heavy equipment operators can be difficult. Exposure to dust, dirt, mud, grease and hazardous materials is a reality. Modern heavy machines have implemented the use of safety systems designed to protect the operator from debris, sharp objects, and other elements.
For example, most units are equipped with rollover protection systems (ROPS) and heavy gauge Plexiglas / safety glass windshields. Even taking into account the anti-roll structure, the variety of protection systems, and the thick glass surrounding the operator’s cabin, the working conditions can be dangerous.
For those who operate machinery in desolate places or in dangerous areas such as underground mines, there can always be an additional element of risk.
How do I become a heavy equipment operator?
There are several options to become a specialized heavy equipment operator. One of the options is to attend professional schools that offers programs to operate construction machinery.
It is important that these schools provide the opportunity for students to operate real machines in objective situations and working conditions. Any potential student will have to determine which school will provide the best practical training.
Although classroom instruction is very valuable to any heavy equipment apprentice, the practice is critical in facilitating the feeling of work in the real world. Some of the trainees are able to practice in sophisticated simulators for their real-world training, while others are able to take the helm of an excavator, backhoe, or other heavy machine.
Most schools or future employers apply for a high school diploma, and having taken classes such as English, math and machine shop are useful. Many students find that an automotive mechanics course is useful due to the maintenance needs of heavy machinery.
If an excavator or tractor needs a simple repair, it is cheaper and much faster than the operator does if he has the knowledge, instead of waiting for a repair team. Minimal repairs can be handled in the field, but for more complicated repairs or maintenance problems the insurance construction manager will hire professional services.
The training in the workplace is another form of training for future operators of heavy equipment, because in the work can receive the training they need. While professional training and classroom instruction is of great help, a new operator trained on site by a veteran operator can benefit from the experience of this and learn the ins and outs of machine operation and provide a learning curve more Quick.
Something to keep in mind, however, is that these instructors seldom have in-depth knowledge of current safety standards that are important to know.
Some learn this trade through a three- to four-year apprenticeship program. Apprentices must complete at least 144 hours per year of technical education and 2,000 hours paid as experience in the workplace.
Do you have to have a license to operate an excavator?
License requirements vary between states, but construction equipment operators often hold a commercial driver’s license, which allows legal transportation of heavy equipment between work sites. State regulations on commercial driver’s licenses often vary; some states require a special operator license for anyone planning to operate a backhoe, loader, or excavator.
Hammer operators in some states require a crane operator certificate or license. Eighteen states, along with the cities of New Orleans, Chicago, New York, Omaha, Philadelphia and Washington, DC, classify crane operators and require operators to hold a crane license.
The Importance of understanding the risks associated with operating heavy machinery.
It is crucial that any new or experienced operator understands the dangers of operating heavy construction equipment. Some of the most common problems faced by operators are:
- Falls – a large percentage of construction-related injuries that are reported come from a fall. Those operating the machinery are at risk of falling from the cabins or stairs, access to these can be difficult in work environments to generally dusty and dirty.Scaffolding and ladders are not necessarily heavy construction equipment, but the operator sometimes has to work on them and falls can occur.
- Electricity – any operator of heavy machinery can be injured by an overload, these are caused by the possibility of inadvertently cutting or damaging aerial or underground power lines. High voltage lines can cause serious damage, including damage to the machine.Care should be taken before digging a new area, or when working near high-voltage lines. Service companies can mark the areas where the power lines are located before digging for a reasonable cost or no cost.
- Staying Trapped – when operating in a mine or other enclosed space, or when digging ditches, the machine is required to operate in tight space, the potential for a deadly result is real. Sinking and landslides have caused serious injury and death among construction equipment operators, and should be considered before operating a heavy machine.
- Bodily injury – Although heavy machinery and equipment are equipped with rollover protection systems (ROPS), passive safety systems, and other safety features that improve every day, injuries can occur. Work in dirt and dust conditions, and often on unstable foundations, can cause any machine to tip over or roll unexpectedly. This can cause serious injury to the user if care is not taken.
- Ear damage – many construction workers and machine operators use insufficient hearing protection, which can lead to permanent loss and damage to the inner ear. It makes sense – operators need to listen to the commands of other workers and it is important to be able to listen to the nuances of the heavy machine.That said, hearing protection is vital, as it is training that helps educate machine operators about the proper way to protect their ears.
- Although there is undoubtedly the possibility of danger when operating heavy machinery, paying attention to what surrounds us, and complying with safety regulations an operator can enjoy a long and safe career in construction trades.
Companies should buy, rent or lease heavy machinery?
One of the biggest concerns for any company that uses heavy equipment is whether to rent, lease or buy the equipment.
The question comes down to – the frequency with which the company uses the machinery, the amount of capital they can invest in it, and what kind of machines are most needed for potential jobs?
Rental of equipment – Companies that decide to rent equipment will discover some key points:
Rental equipment means little or no money in advance. Most rental agencies require the landlord to pay for the machinery before its use, or its return. This means that money does not have to be tied up for long periods of time.
Tenants also receive the benefit of only paying for a machine when it is really necessary. If an excavator is needed for a three-week job, the tenant can set a rental period of three weeks. If it takes more or less time than the tenant can set up the rental agreement to accommodate the schedule.
The rental team does pose the dilemma of minimizing tax incentives or penalties for the business, so it should not be the only means of acquiring heavy equipment.
The rental team generally guarantees that the tenant will receive the new models of heavy equipment. Rental agencies know that machines must be reliable and that breakdowns or interruptions in service can cause serious financial problems for the tenant. This factor is almost a guarantee that the tenant will receive a quality machine.
Equipment Leasing – Companies that lease equipment can find the following advantages and disadvantages:
- The lease is essentially a loan, but the interest rates that the leasing agencies charge tends to be higher than the rate of a traditional bank loan. This can result in higher monthly payments in the lease versus the financing of the equipment through traditional channels.
- The lease requires a long-term commitment for a piece of machinery, since many equipment lease terms are from many months to several years. For the construction company that is not sure how long your particular project will take, the lease may not make sense.
- The leasing companies that work with the construction industry understand the temporality and the cyclical nature of the business. This means that many of them are willing to work with construction companies to ensure that the payment plans are realistic given the nature of the business.
- Lease payments can be a deductible expense, since they are usually paid from the running costs of the company. It is advised to consult a tax advisor to obtain more information.
Purchase of equipment – construction companies that choose to buy their own heavy equipment will realize the following key points:
- Purchase of equipment provides important tax advantages compared to the lease, such as depreciation and other expenses related to the purchase can result in a very reduced tax burden. Qualified tax advisors can provide guidance on this subject.
- Purchase equipment requires, in general, a large outlay in cash in advance, since lenders require 10 – 20% down payment on the equipment. Managers of the construction company will have to determine if this money can be used for more productive means, instead of investing in a machine.
- The company will have to foresee and / or pay for the storage and transport of large heavy machines. This can be very expensive, especially if specialized transport equipment is needed to move heavy or bulky machines.
- The purchase of a piece of construction equipment is an investment that must be supported by the constant use of the machine. Companies should consider how often the machine is used before buying.
If a company has plans to use the machine frequently, buying may make economic sense, otherwise, looking for a rental or lease may be wise. Tying a significant amount of capital can stop a business from purchasing supplies, fulfilling payroll payments, and expanding operational capabilities.
The total costs of operating heavy machinery are significant
Those who have years in the construction industry understand the delicate balance between quoting a job low enough to win a bid (and still make a profit), and the price too high where a competitor wins the bid.
While it is important to make money, construction managers can offer competitive offers to prospective clients, as long as they know and understand the costs associated with operating heavy machinery.
These fixed and variable costs can make or break a job, so it is essential to understand the key expenses related to these large machines:
- The initial purchase must be amortized in the estimated number of hours of operation. Buying a machine is a much better investment when it is intended for a large amount of use.The operating cost per hour will be lower if the business can keep the machine running efficiently. This is an important consideration, as a more reliable model will mandate less maintenance and repairs – and a resulting lower cost per hour of operation.
- Fuel is an expense that contractors and workers in the construction industry know very well. Heavy machines drink a lot of fuel, especially when they are not used efficiently. It is important to minimize downtime, as well as to use the machines for the function that they were designed for.It is not uncommon for a medium-sized excavator or backhoe excavator to consume 5-15 gallons of diesel per hour. This can be increased rapidly, so it is worth consulting the manufacturer’s specifications and estimating the cost per hour of operation of a piece of equipment.
- The tires are portable elements that have a lot of abuse in the workplace. It is important that the tires of any heavy equipment are in good working order and free of any defects or dangerous wear patterns.
- Maintenance and repairs are necessary to keep the equipment in safe working condition. The maintenance intervals will be in the operator’s manual and the local repair and maintenance costs can be estimated by a competent mechanic.
How much can you make as a heavy equipment operator?
- The operator’s salaries are also important to include. An expert operator, including benefits, will cost between $ 40-60 per hour, depending on the actual salary rate and the geographical region in which the company is located.
- Depreciation must be included, owning a machine means having an asset that decreases steadily in value with each passing month. While a tax advisor may be able to turn this into an advantage for the business, it is important to recognize that the machine loses value every year.
Heavy machinery drives construction efforts in the country – and the world
Heavy equipment operators are needed in works throughout the UAE. With the recent increase in commercial construction, there is greater demand from qualified operators, now is a good time to learn the methodology to operate a heavy machine.
For companies that want to increase efficiency and general efficiency in the residential and commercial construction sector, the rental, leasing or purchase of heavy equipment will help those looking for work in this field to find competitive salaries and good security in the job.
Whether they learn work, in a classroom, in a simulator or from a veteran operator, a career in building heavy equipment is a challenging job – but also rewarding and in demand.
[Credits to: ROCK & DIRT]