The design of mechanical diggers has evolved since their creation in the late 19th century. As more tasks are carried out by heavy machinery and the manufacturing processes improved, the ability to tailor the attachments to specific jobs became more elaborate. The excavator bucket attaches to the end of the boom (the articulated arm protruding from the front or rear of a machine). Nowadays there are several commonly used excavator buckets which are used to perform particular tasks.
This design is intended to be useful for most excavation tasks. These buckets normally have teeth at the front which help to get purchase underneath the material that needs to be moved. This allows the bucket to cut through earth more easily than a flat fronted excavator bucket by dragging it toward the machine.
These excavator buckets are intended to move loose surfaces and carve gradients into landscapes. They normally have a straight front edge which makes them ideal for clearing away the surface rather than cutting through it. Due to the flat front it makes this kind of bucket unsuitable for heavy digging. They will also normally be fitted with drainage holes which reduce the weight and make them easier to work with in areas where water may have collected.
This type of excavator bucket is specifically designed to work with backhoe machinery which drags the bucket along the ground behind the vehicle. The outer of the bucket is fitted with wear strips which give it the ribbed effect for which it was named. These offer a surface which is designed to be worn from dragging. These plates can then be replaced which extends the working life of the bucket. As these buckets can be used on a multitude of surfaces they normally have teeth similar to the general purpose buckets.
These excavator buckets also have teeth, like the general purpose buckets and replaceable wear plates like the ribbed bucket.
This type of excavator bucket has a sharp edge with no teeth which make them ideal for carving gradients. The main difference between these and ditch maintenance buckets are the drainage holes which make up a larger area on the grading buckets which further reduces the weight.
Grain / Potato Shovel
This type of excavator bucket aims to reduce potential damage to crops during transit by having a rounded leading edge. They may also include wear strips from the toeplate to the back of the shovel which can be replaced to prolong the service life.
This type of excavator bucket is normally used for loading tasks. The leading edge may have a drilled toeplate which allows teeth to be fitted for tasks which require the bucket to cut through the material. Rolled backs make it easy to release the material.
Quick Hitch Mechanisms
Most excavator buckets can be used with quick hitch mechanisms which allow the operator to interchange attachments quickly. They are secured to the dipper arm with two pins which can either be released manually by the operator or remotely with a hydraulic ram. These mechanisms enable operators to change attachment more frequently but have also caused many accidents resulting in serious or fatal injuries. The majority of these accidents have been attributed to semi-automatic systems which require a pin to be removed manually before the operator released the bucket remotely.