Construction work involves a lot of heavy duty tasks, including lifting, hauling heavy loads, dumping, excavation, etc. Unfortunately, construction workers cannot do these tasks by hand or using ordinary tools and vehicles. This makes construction vehicles vital to the construction process.
According to Maximized Market Research, the construction vehicle market was worth $69.71 billion in 2021. Additionally, it is projected to grow at an annual compounded rate of 3.46% in the coming years due to the rapid growth in several construction sectors. But what exactly are these construction vehicles? Below is a look at various heavy duty mobile equipment in the construction industry, how they are used, and other exciting facts about them.
Excavators are one of the most common heavy duty mobile equipment you can find on a construction site. They are mainly used for commercial construction projects such as construction of roads and commercial buildings (malls, hospitals, office blocks, etc.). However, excavators, especially mini excavators, are also used in residential construction sites.
An excavator can perform many functions in a construction site, including excavation services. Construction workers use excavators to prepare sites for construction work. This can be done by land clearing, removing topsoil, digging, moving earth, land leveling, landscape grading, digging out the foundation, etc.
Besides excavation, excavators can also perform other tasks on construction sites. For example, they may be used for demolitions and carrying equipment and materials at a site. They can also move soil and debris left behind during the construction work.
While excavators are essential in construction work, they are also one of the most dangerous types of heavy duty mobile equipment. According to OSHA, there were over 42 related excavator accidents in the U.S. Given the dangers involved, specialized operators with a driving license (preferably a commercial driving license) and heavy duty equipment operator certification are required to operate these vehicles.
Bulldozers are another common type of heavy duty mobile equipment used in the construction industry. They can be used for residential construction (small dozers) and commercial construction projects – for example, commercial construction sites, building roads, etc. Bulldozers are also used in other sectors, such as the agricultural industry and mining.
The primary use of bulldozers is earth moving – the machine can move large amounts of soil, sand, and other loose materials on a construction site. Therefore, they can offer exceptional construction services such as site preparation – land clearing, leveling, grading – especially in large construction projects such as building stadiums, hospitals, malls, offices, apartments, etc.
Besides site preparation, bulldozers can also do shallow digging and trenching – making them ideal for excavation work. They can also help transport equipment and materials (sand, gravel, etc.) around the construction site. Lastly, they can be used to move debris during the cleanup phase.
Like excavators, bulldozers are dangerous heavy duty vehicles. According to OSHA, there were 20 reported cases of bulldozer accidents from 2020 to 2022, most of them being fatal. Therefore, experienced heady duty equipment operators are needed to ensure the safety of construction workers when using bulldozers.
Crane trucks (mobile cranes) are one of the most popular heavy duty vehicles used in the construction industry. Both cranes and lifts are used to move heavy materials, which helps to increase efficiency at a site. They are used primarily for commercial projects, but you can also find them on residential construction sites.
Mobile cranes come with pulleys and cables, which allow them to lift or lower heavy materials and construction equipment (concrete mix, sand, generators, HVAC equipment, turbines, etc.). Therefore, they are vital in large construction projects like multi-story commercial buildings. Cranes are also commonly used by steel building contracting companies to hoist and erect steel structures.
Crane services are also used in other sectors besides the construction industry. For example, they load and unload ships at ports, move cargo in warehouses, and lift heavy machinery in mining, shipbuilding, energy, forestry, and other industries.
Like most heavy duty mobile equipment, cranes can be very dangerous. According to the National Commission for Certification of Crane Operators, over 216 crane truck deaths occurred between 1992 and 2006. Therefore, experienced and licensed crane operators with valid driving licenses, physically fit, and good eyesight are required to operate these vehicles. However, crane operators are among the highest-paid construction vehicle operators – with salaries of up to $64,000 annually.
Lifts are another popular type of heavy duty mobile equipment used in lifting materials. Using lifts in the construction industry offers many benefits, such as improving efficiency by quickly lifting heavy materials, equipment, and construction workers at a site. Lifts also help to prevent worker injuries (due to heavy lifting) and can even prevent damage to construction equipment and materials.
One of the most common types of lifts used in the construction industry is the forklift. It’s vital for carrying and lifting concrete, bricks, steel, metal, wood, shingle, tiles, and other materials around the construction sites. However, forklifts are also found in warehouses, where they are used for loading, unloading, and moving inventory.
Besides forklifts, aerial lifts are another common type of heavy duty machinery used in construction work. This helps to lift workers, allowing them to reach elevated heights safely. Therefore, they are vital for construction tasks such as roofing, drywall installation, painting, electrical wiring, and installing insulation.
Out of all the construction vehicles, lifts are among the most dangerous. According to the National Safety Council Injury Facts, forklifts led to 70 deaths in 2021 and 7,290 non-fatal accidents in 2020. The hazards of operating forklifts are so significant that, according to OSHA, federal law requires operators to be above 18 years and have the necessary certification.
Waste Management Vehicles
Waste is a significant problem in construction sites. According to Visual Capitalist, the global construction industry generates approximately 2 billion tonnes of waste annually. This waste must be carefully and safely removed from the construction sites, which makes waste removal vehicles some of the most critical heavy duty mobile equipment for the construction industry.
The dump truck is one of the most common construction waste management vehicles. These trucks have an open bed that can be raised, dumping the materials at the back or side. Therefore, they are vital for moving construction debris and other waste such as soil, scrap metal, rocks, etc.
However, due to their large carrying capacity and easy dumping, dump trucks are also used to haul construction materials, for example, sand, gravel, asphalt, etc. In addition, they can also be found in other non-construction industries, for example, the agricultural sector – hauling produce, feeds, fodder, fertilizer, manure, soil, etc.
Besides dump trucks, industrial vacuum trucks are other common construction vehicles used for waste management. They are commonly used by septic businesses to suction sewage waste. They can also be used in the construction industry to remove water, liquid, sludge, and other debris from sites.
Waste management vehicles are heavy duty machinery that can easily cause fatal accidents. Therefore, they require skilled operators – with a driving license (preferably a commercial one) and experience in heavy equipment operation.
Construction Towing Trucks
The vehicles used in the construction industry are heavy, making them a nightmare if they malfunction or run out of gas. Since they can be towed by ordinary tow trucks, heavy duty towing trucks are needed – making them vital for the construction industry.
Besides towing malfunctioning vehicles, construction tow trucks are used to move and relocate other heavy duty mobile equipment. For example, you cannot drive an excavator over finished roads as it would cause extensive damage. Therefore, heavy duty tow trucks are needed when transporting them to and from the construction sites.
Another use for construction towing trucks is hauling heavy materials and machinery. Due to their heavy carrying capacity, these vehicles can easily transport equipment such as generators, HVAC systems, water pumps, and other heavy machines. The trucks can also move steel, concrete, bricks, timbers, and logs. Lastly, they can remove debris and construction waste from a site.
Regarding safety, construction tow trucks can cause severe damage to the equipment being towed or, worse, severe injuries and deaths. For example, in 2021, a tow truck driver caused the death of another driver in California after a tow truck that he was hauling dislodged from the truck and fell on another car. Therefore, given the hazards involved, heavy duty tow truck operators must have a valid driving license and proper certification.
Paving vehicles are popular construction vehicles that are used in many construction jobs. For example, they are used by commercial paving contractors to pave roadways, walkways, and parking areas. This makes them vital in projects such as hotels, office buildings, hospitals, malls, etc. In addition, paving vehicles are also used in road construction and residential projects (driveway installation
The asphalt paver is among the most common paving vehicles used in the construction industry. These are used to distribute and compact asphalt material on the surface that needs to be paved. They also compact the asphalt, giving the road, driveway, or parking lot a smooth finish.
Besides asphalt pavers, several other heavy duty mobile equipment are used for paving in the construction industry. For example, excavators and bulldozers are used to clear up the site that will be paved. Additionally, construction workers use graders, drum rollers, and compactors to ensure the site is ready for laying asphalt or other paving materials. Lastly, dump trucks can haul paving materials to the construction site.
One thing to note about construction paving vehicles is that they can cause severe accidents, especially for construction workers. For example, when laying asphalt, construction workers often work close to the asphalt paver; therefore, they can be struck or run over, leading to severe injuries or death. Therefore, experienced and licensed heavy duty equipment operators are needed to operate these vehicles safely.
Heavy Duty Hauling Vehicles
Haulers are other heavy duty mobile equipment used for moving construction materials and equipment. Haulers can also be used for other purposes, such as removing construction waste. You can find them in many construction projects, from residential and commercial construction to road building. Additionally, they are used in other industries and sectors, such as mining, agriculture, and transportation – to move heavy goods and equipment.
Trailers and semi-trucks are among the most common types of heavy duty hauling vehicles. These mainly transport steel, concrete, gravel, timber, glass, and other construction materials. In addition, they can be used to move construction equipment such as HDD hammers for drilling, electric generators, etc.
Another typical construction hauler used to move goods in the construction industry is the articulated hauler, also known as the articulated dump truck. They are similar to dump trucks, except they can move faster around tight spaces and rugged terrains. Lastly, other construction vehicles, such as dump trucks, towing trucks, bulldozers, etc., can also be repurposed to move materials and equipment around the construction site.
Where safety is concerned, hauling vehicles can cause serious accidents, given their size and the heavy materials and equipment they transport. According to the NHTSA, over 13% of fatalities in 2021 involved large trucks (granted that these figures included other industries besides construction). Therefore, qualified drivers are required to operate them, with most companies requiring their drivers to have at least a commercial driving license.
Concrete Mixing Trucks
Concrete mixing is a vital part of any construction project, be it residential or commercial. Construction workers employ various methods of mixing concrete, from manually (using wheelbarrows and shovels) to using various batch concrete mixing machines. However, these methods can be inefficient, especially when working on a large project. This makes concrete mixing trucks vital, especially for commercial contractors.
Concrete mixing trucks feature a revolving cement drum mixer that combines concrete ingredients – sand, gravel, cement, and water. They are used mainly by concrete contractors in large commercial projects that require large amounts of concrete mix. However, they are also common in residential construction projects, such as laying the foundation, building a swimming pool, or installing concrete pavers and a driveway.
Like other heavy duty mobile equipment used in the construction industry, concrete truck mixers can cause severe injuries and even cause death. For example, the truck can strike or run over people on the construction site. Workers can also be injured by various parts of the mixing truck, such as the revolving drum or nozzle, or if they accidentally fall inside the drum. Additionally, the truck can cause a vehicle crash when moving to and from the construction site.
Concrete truck accidents are common, with OSHA reporting 21 incidents between 2021 and 2022. Therefore, skilled operators with valid commercial driving licenses must operate the trucks. However, on a positive note, cement-mixing truck drivers are paid handsomely, earning salaries of up to $70,500.
Construction vehicles play a vital role in the construction industry, especially in helping to move heavy materials and equipment. They also perform critical tasks such as excavating, digging, grading, site clearing, raising and lowering materials and workers, mixing concrete, etc. If you’re looking for information about construction vehicles, the above are some of the top heavy duty mobile equipment used in the industry.