Construction vehicles (a.k.a. heavy equipment) are the backbone of some of the most common industries in the United States, including home building, civil and commercial projects, landscaping, and road building.
These vehicles make it possible for one person to move and lift heavy loads, reshape the ground, and dig large holes in shorter amounts of time and with less effort than ever before.
In this article, we discuss the most common construction vehicles for your fleet as well as the equipment you’ll need to transport them.
Common Construction Vehicles
1) Dump Truck
One of the most common construction vehicles in any fleet is the dump truck.
Dump trucks come in a wide variety of sizes and can be used to move piles of dirt, rock, and other material ranging in weight from one ton up to 500 tons in a single load.
When it comes to earth-moving construction vehicles, few things are as useful as the bulldozer.
Their unique track drivetrain, heavy front blade, and high engine power make it possible to dig trenches, clear and reshape the land, move large amounts of loose material, and tow heavy loads over short distances with ease.
3) Skid-Steer Loader
The skid-steer loader is used to load and move loose material, such as dirt, snow, and gravel, from place to place or into a truck.
Skid-steer loaders come with either tracks or wheels and can have a fixed front bucket or an interchangeable front bucket.
Some skid-steer loaders can even be outfitted with other tools, such as augers, pinchers, forks, graders, and concrete breakers.
While the bulldozer is perfect for pushing heavy loads horizontally, the backhoe is one of the most useful fleet construction vehicles for moving things vertically.
Businesses of all types use backhoes to:
- Dig trenches
- Excavate for foundations
- Remove stumps
- Move loose dirt and debris into a dump truck
- Unload freight
- Lay cable and pipe
- And much more
There are so many ways to use a backhoe on the job site, many consider them the Swiss Army Knife of construction vehicles.
Backhoes and skid-steer loaders may be the perfect construction vehicles for lifting items six to eight feet in the air or onto the bed of a truck. Any higher than that, and you’ll need a crane to do the job right.
Cranes come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and types, can be mobile or installed, and (the largest) can lift loads as heavy as 3,000 tons.
6) Bucket Truck
Bucket truck construction vehicles (also called cherry-pickers) are most useful for allowing technicians to work at height and in places where a scaffold might be impractical.
Landscapers, utility workers, and construction companies use bucket trucks to perform maintenance on trees, roofs, chimneys, and other elevated locations.
7) Aerial Lift
In many cases, the aerial lift is a smaller version of the bucket truck. Both allow employees to work at height, but the aerial lift can usually go where a bucket truck can’t — namely, indoors.
Aerial lifts come in many different sizes and configurations, and businesses use them for a wide variety of activities, including:
- Installing drywall
- Moving people and supplies to height
- Changing light bulbs
- Running cable in ceilings
- Exterior building maintenance
- Window washing
- And much more
Trenchers are very versatile construction vehicles used, as the name suggests, for excavating trenches in the ground.
The simplest model is an engine and a large spinning wheel that can be lowered into the ground. Some trenchers have their own wheels for easy mobility, while some must be moved with other construction vehicles on this list.
Trenchers are most often employed for laying pipe, installing drainage tile, and running cable at a construction site.
9) Front Loader
Front-loaders have big tires and a large articulated bucket on the front. These construction vehicles are used for moving huge amounts of loose material, like dirt, stone, and snow.
Many companies also use front loaders to load, unload, and transport building materials, like brick, rebar, metal, pipe, and plastic pipe for use on the build site.
Graders are construction vehicles that are used to flatten land for construction projects and road building.
Their most distinctive feature is the large blade suspended below the frame of the vehicle that can be lowered to drag on the ground. The blade can also be tilted and moved in a variety of directions to make the terrain as level as possible.
For situations where a backhoe isn’t large enough, fleet managers employ an excavator to get the job done quickly and correctly.
The main feature of these construction vehicles is the large boom arm that terminates in a scoop or bucket.
Excavators come in a variety of sizes and are used by many industries to dig holes, clear ditches, prepare foundations, demolish buildings, remove debris, and lift heavy objects.
While bulldozers and backhoes are the best at moving dirt and other loose items, forklifts are the ideal choice for moving pallets and large, heavy items on a job site or in a warehouse.
As the name suggests, the primary feature of a forklift is a vertical track and two steel prongs that protrude from the body of the vehicle.
Those forks can lift items anywhere from a few inches off the ground, five feet onto a truck bed, or 10 or more feet onto a warehouse shelf (depending on the model).
A telehandler is a variation on the forklift that includes a boom arm instead of a vertical track.
The boom can move up and down and extend forward and back (without moving the vehicle itself) to make positioning materials and cargo easier and much safer.
The utility and flexibility of these construction vehicles means that you can use them as a crane, loader, lift, or aerial work platform.
14) Concrete Mixer Truck
The concrete mixer truck is a specialized type of construction vehicle that combines the components of concrete (cement, sand or gravel, and water), keeps it from separating, moves that material to the job site, and pumps it out where it’s needed.
While concrete can be mixed on-site, the process is labor intensive and requires many hands to handle appropriately before it hardens. The concrete mixer truck makes working with this time-sensitive material much easier.
As construction vehicles, compactors look a lot like bulldozers with one notable exception: their wheels.
While most bulldozers have tracks, compactors have large nubs on their wheels (almost like spikes) that protrude into the ground as the compactor moves.
Some compactors are even more specialized and have a large roller up front to help flatten whatever surface it rolls over.
Compactors are used to prepare the ground at building sites so that the soil is as compact and as stable as possible so that it resists erosion and movement.
While many think of tractors as agricultural implements, they also serve well as construction vehicles in your fleet.
Designed to generate high torque and produce a lot of traction, tractors are perfect for moving trailers and other heavy equipment around a job site
Some can even be outfitted with backhoe scoops and front loader buckets to create a multipurpose vehicle that can perform a variety of work.
17) Feller Buncher
A feller buncher looks very much like an excavator, but its boom arm ends in a specialized cutting and gathering attachment that makes clearing and moving large trees easier.
While feller bunchers aren’t used very much on urban building sites, they are very common in rural areas where preparing the land for construction requires large trees to be removed first.
A borer is a specialized entry on this list of construction vehicles because its sole purpose is to drill holes in the ground.
Like the feller buncher, the borer is built with an excavator frame and boom arm. But, instead of terminating in a scoop or cutting head, the borer’s boom arm ends in a large drill.
Borers are used primarily to drill wells and to prepare building sites for the installation of concrete piles.
19) Pile Driver
A pile driver is a large hammer that pounds a large pipe or preformed concrete tube deep into the ground.
While piles and pile drivers aren’t used very much in residential construction, they are very common in large-scale business and commercial construction.
A scraper is a large class of construction vehicles that is used to remove large amounts of soil and other ground material from a building site.
A scraper is similar to a grader, but, instead of just moving the dirt around, the scraper can pick up the material and move it to a different location.
Equipment For Transporting Construction Vehicles
Many of the construction vehicles on this list aren’t built to travel long distances. Moving them from job site to job site requires even more equipment, including:
Managing Your Construction Fleet
No matter what combination of construction vehicles and transport equipment your business uses, it’s important to manage it well. With the right systems in place for keeping up with your drivers and operators and tracking your fuel spending, your construction business can thrive.