Types of Heavy Equipment and their uses – The Complete Guide

7 Nov, 2022

5 min read

Heavy equipment is a term used to describe a wide range of machines that are used for construction and other industrial purposes. There are many types of heavy equipment, and each one has its own unique set of functions. In this article, we will take a look at the most common types of heavy equipment and discuss their uses in the UK.

What Is Heavy Equipment?

Heavy equipment refers to any machinery that is used for construction or other industrial purposes. This includes everything from bulldozers and excavators to cranes and forklifts. In general, heavy equipment is any machine that is used to perform a task that would be difficult or impossible to do by hand.

Heavy machinery is used in all sectors to allow companies to speed up tasks that would just take too long if done manually, read on to learn about the different  pieces of heavy machinery and what they are used for!

The Most Common Types Of Heavy Equipment

There are hundreds of different types of heavy machinery used for all kinds of tasks, but some of the most common include:


Bulldozers are large vehicles that usually move on tracks this common piece of equipment is usually found on construction sites and is mainly used for excavating and moving large amounts of material like dirt and debris on work sites. Bulldozers have large heavy blades on the front that allows them to easily move and level large amounts of soil. The tracks make it easy to move this heavy equipment vehicle around on rough terrain, where some other commercial vehicles may struggle.

CAT D9T bulldozer

A beautiful CAT D9T Bulldozer in action


Forklifts are used for a variety of tasks both on and off construction sites, Their main purpose is to lift and move heavy loads for short distances. Forklifts can be used to move loads horizontally and vertically making them a very versatile heavy-duty machine. There are 9 different types of forklifts commonly used in the UK, for a variety of warehouse and construction tasks.

jungheinrich counterbalance forklift

A Jungheinrich counterbalance forklift truck. One of many different forklift types!


There are many different types of excavators from large excavators to mini excavator, or compact excavators for tight spaces. These are tracked vehicles that are equipped with a bucket on the front. They are used for digging holes, trenches, and other excavations. Excavators are also regularly used in demolition and moving heavy objects, there are many different types of excavators on the market so it makes sense to do some research and find the one that best fits your job.


An excavator working its magic in Brittany, France


Cranes range in size from mini cranes to huge tower cranes that are used for lifting and moving heavy materials or objects. They can be either crawler cranes or stationary cranes, and can be used for a variety of tasks from loading and unloading freight, and building houses on construction sites to the use of deck cranes for assembly of heavy items like cars and other heavy equipment.


An elegant red crane towering above the skyline


Loaders sometimes referred to as bucket loaders or wheel loaders,  are large tracked vehicles that are equipped with a bucket on the front. They are used for loading and unloading loose materials, as well as excavating. Loaders aren’t quite as commonly used for digging as excavators, but they have their place on every construction site for filling trucks and moving bulky materials.

JCB 3CX Backhoe loader

A robust JCB 3CX Backhoe Loader at work

Dump Trucks

Standard dump trucks are one of the most popular type of heavy construction vehicle that you’ll find on any construction site. They are used for transporting materials such as large amounts of dirt, gravel, and other debris. Then depositing it where it is required. They are commonly been used in conjunction with loaders to take away hardcore and demolition waste from building projects. These trucks come in a variety of sizes, so it’s important to choose the right dumper truck for the different types of projects.

dump truck

A massive dump truck in South America!


Compactors sometimes called rollers or drum rollers are used to level out large areas of soil, hardcore or other materials before building work begins. You will also regularly see the prices of equipment used by road workers to level out asphalt on roads.

volvo soil compactor

A Volvo soil compactor

Scissor Lifts

Electric scissor lifts are used to provide an elevated flat surface which workers use to carry out repairs or building work in otherwise hard-to-reach areas. Scissor lifts provide a much safer alternative to working from a ladder and you can find them being used on a smaller scale in warehousing and building maintenance.

Scissor lifts can be a great alternative to ladders and scaffolding


A telescopic forklift is an efficient piece of equipment that is useful for moving anything from hay bails to pallets.

Telehandlers are cost effective due to their versatility. They make it easy to switch between tasks, as just swapping an attachment quickly allows the machine to adapt to new applications. Attachings such as forks, crannies, claw machines, buckets, and skips allow the machine to adapt to any application. Other common options include raising handles and lifting hooks.


A 3 tonne Duralift Telehandler posing for the camera


Backhoe loaders are quite complex equipment and have many uses due to the large variety of attachments they can be used with. Some refer to them as the all-in-one piece of heavy construction equipment as they can be used for tasks such as digging, trenching, and excavating. Backhoes are commonly used in construction, landscaping, and agricultural work as well as demolition and road work! Backhoes are also used for lifting although this is not the primary function these machines make light work of moving large boulders and other heavy items.

JCB 3CX backhor loader

A JCB 3CX Backhoe Loader

Uses For Heavy Equipment In The UK

Heavy equipment is widely used in the UK to help meet deadlines in both construction and industrial purposes. Some of the most common uses include:


Construction is the most common application of heavy machinery and a lot of construction work would be impossible without the complex equipment mentioned above. Heavy machinery is essential for any construction project, from small home renovations to large-scale commercial developments. Construction heavy equipment operators will use a variety of equipment includes excavators, backhoes, dump trucks, and multi-terrain loaders.


Heavy machinery is also used in the industrial sector, particularly in manufacturing and mining, But also in warehousing. Equipment used in the manufacturing process includes cranes and conveyor belts. In warehousing forklift trucks are used to move pallets of products on to high shelves and to load and unload freight.


Heavy equipment is essential in the agricultural sector. Examples of heavy equipment used in agriculture include agricultural tractors, harvesting machines, and irrigation systems. This type of equipment is essential for farmers and agricultural workers and the whole agriculture sector wouldn’t work without it!


Demolition projects require the use of heavy equipment such as excavators, bulldozers and highway dump trucks. This type of equipment is used to demolish buildings, bridges, and other structures. As well as to remove the leftover debris and hardcore.


Roadwork projects involve the use of a large variety of heavy equipment such as dump trucks, paving machines, and road rollers. When digging up the road to lay new pipes or making parking lots. Some road work projects for example the construction of roads require a whole fleet of different heavy machines to get the job done and meet deadlines.


Without the variety of cutting edge heavy machines available, today’s projects in every sector would struggle to meet deadlines and get work completed. From small home renovations to large-scale commercial developments, demolition projects, and road work. There is a machine for every job no matter the size!

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