Types of Diggers and Their Uses

Diggers are familiar sights to see on building sites all over the UK and are integral to all types of construction. There are many different types of digger; in this article we will look at a selection of commonly-used vehicles.


An excavator is a type of digger that has one arm at the front which consists of a boom and a stick, and there is a bucket right at the end. The cab sits on top of a revolving platform and there are wheels or tracks beneath for movement.

These types of diggers are used for a range of projects such as landscaping, digging, demolition and grading. They can range in size quite considerably, with large examples of excavators often being utilised by the mining industry and small examples of these diggers are used where space is at a premium or access is restricted. Some can even squeeze through doorways.

Backhoe Loader

This type of digger was invented in 1953 in the UK by JC Bamford, founder of J.C. Bamford Excavators Limited. It is commonly known by the JCB initials and is basically a tractor body with an attached front bucket and backhoe.

This vehicle is both compact and versatile, with the front bucket being used for loading and the backhoe for digging. A big plus point for these diggers is that they can be driven along roads as well as on site, making transfer between jobs at different sites relatively straightforward and inexpensive when compared with a digger that must be loaded onto another vehicle or even dismantled before transportation can take place.

The backhoe loader can gain extra stability while digging by having its hydraulic stabilisers and front scoop lowered, allowing the vehicle to exert considerable force and dig quickly.


The bulldozer actually developed from the farm tractor and was in common usage in America by the 1920s. These diggers are generally used for construction as well as mining and road building.

Bulldozers have huge steel blades which are front-mounted and these are pushed along by the tractor body which is mounted on top of caterpillar tracks. They have different blades for completing different tasks and can be fitted with rear ripper attachments to break through hard surfaces. These vehicles are able to navigate very rough terrain with ease as they have very wide tracks, a bit like a military tank.


Loadalls are also known as telescopic handlers and were first introduced by JCB in 1978. These diggers are commonly used in both agriculture and construction and are compact and versatile. They feature pivoting, extendable arms or booms with a forklift attachments. Shovel, bale lift and grapple attachments can also be used.

This list is a brief over view of the types of digger that may be found on a building site and is by no means exhaustive; there are many varieties in common usage today.