The harvester is a type of heavy machinery that is employed in cut to length logging operations for felling, buckling, and cutting up trees. Normally, a harvester is employed alongside a forward that will haul the logs and trees to a roadside landing.

Harvesters were developed in Sweden and Finland, and today they do nearly all of the commercial felling in these countries.  They work best for  less difficult terrain for the clear cutting area of forest.  For steep hills or removing individual trees, chain saws are normally preferred.  In  the Nordic countries, small and agile harvesters are used for thinning operations and manual cutting is only used during extreme conditions or by self employed owners of the forest or wooded area.

The leading manufacturers of harvesters include Timberjack (which is owned by John Deere) and  Valmet, which is owned by Komatsu.

Normally, harvesters are built on a robust all terrain vehicle, which can either be wheeled or tracked.  Sometimes, the vehicle can be articulated to provide tight turning around obstacles.  A  diesel engine will provide power for both the  vehicle and the harvesting mechanism through a hydraulic drive.

An articulated, extensible boom that is similiar to that of an excavator, will reach out from the vehicle to carry the head of the harvester.  There are even some commercial harvesters that are  adaptations of excavators with a new harvester  head, while the others are purpose built vehicles.

The normal harvester head may consist of:
1.  A chain saw to cut the tree at the base and also to cut it to length.  The saw is hydraulically powered rather than using a 2 stroke engine of a portable version.  It offers a more robust chain and a higher output power than any saw carried by man.
2.  Two curved “de-limbing” knives that can reach around the trunk to remove branches.
3.  Two feed rollers to reach out and grasp the tree.  The wheels will pivot apart to allow the tree to be embraced by the head of the harvester, and pivot together to hug the tree tight.
4.  Two more curved knives for “de-limbing.”

All of this is controlled by an operator who sits in the cab of the vehicle.  A control computer is used to simplify mechanical movements and keep the length and diameter of trees that have been cut.

The length is computed by counting the rotations of the gripping wheels.  The diameter is computed from the pivot angle of the gripping wheels that hug the tree.

Harvesters are normally available for cutting trees up to 900 mm in diameter, built on vehicles that weight up to 20 t, with a boom that reaches up to a 10m radius.  The larger, more heavier vehicles do more damage to the forest, although a longer reach will help by allowing more trees to be harvested with less movements required by the vehicle.

Digging trenches is one of the oldest types of work with both construction and excavating.  Prior to World War 2, trenches were dug by hand.  As workers dug the trenches deeper, the sides needed to be shored or supported, to keep the walls of the trench from caving in.

Following the World War, several innovations were made in backhoes, and trench digging seemed to fade away as a profession.  By 1950, hydraulically actuated backhoes were developed, which make it possible to  rapidly dig very deep trenches.  Resulting from the innovations with backhoes, and because there were no workers inside digging the trenches, the walls no longer needed to be shored.

All types of trenches have what’s known as a stand up time.  This time is the amount of time that elapses from the time the ditch is dug until the time the trench walls start to collapse.  The stand up time is dependant on many factors, which include the type of soil, water content, trench depth, weather conditions, and whether or not the soil has been disturbed.

The stand up time can be as short as zero seconds  or as long as several months, as they are very difficult to predict.  Before the trench can be dug, someone must take soil samples as way of estimating the stand up time.  Keep in mind that the soil conditions can be dramatically different only a  few feet from where the sample of the soil was taken.

After the trench has been dug, workers will go down into the trench, and perform whatever work is  needed, such as laying pipe or installing telephone lines, welding pipe, or installing valves.  If the trench walls aren’t supported, there is the possibility of the walls collapsing and trapping the workers in the trench.  Throughout history, there have been 100 – 300 people killed in the U.S. each year due to trenches collapsing.

The public has become very aware that industrial progress will often have negative side effects as well.  The place of engineers protecting the  public from these types of side effects is a very controversial issue.  The use of trench boxes on the site, will help to ease this debate.

The trench box, also called a trench shield, may be placed in the trench to prevent failures from injuring workers. The trench box consists of two large plates, normally made from steel, which are parallel to the walls of the trench, and horizontal cross members which will hold the two plates apart.

The lower edge of the trench box rests at the bottom of the trench, with the top edge of the  box extending above the top of the trench.  The workers will stay between the plates of the trench box, so that if the trench does collapse, the dirt will be stopped by the outside of the trench box.

As the work progresses, the trench box is pulled along in the trench with a backhoe or other machine.

When a project calls for a large excavation such as digging the foundation for a tall building, the supporting structure for the excavated walls will be specified in the plans.  The big problem with not using trench boxes occurs in cities, when  water or sewer lines are being installed or repaired.  The engineer doesn’t specify for the trench box in the plans, but instead leaves it up to the contractor.

Anytime you are going to be digging trenches or working in them, you should always use common sense and take your time.  Trenches can be very deadly, especially if trench boxes aren’t used.  To be on the safe side, you should always use a trench box if you need to be in the trench.  If you don’t need to be in the trench – do the smart thing and let the machines do all of the work.

A skid steer loader with backhoe attachment or a backhoe loader in general can be very productive if it is operated safely and efficiently.  The best way to get the job done safely and efficiently is to know yourself, the job site, and your equipment.

Even though the models of backhoes will vary, there are safety features with all of them that include steps and grab handles for getting on and off of the machine.  Backhoes also feature frame lock levers and attaching levers to keep the backhoe securely fastened to the loader frame during operation as well as transporting.

In addition to these standard safety features, there are some backhoes that provide a safety chain.  The safety chain will prevent the backhoe mounting frame from rotating backwards and unexpectedly  trapping the operator, which can result in serious injury or death.  Therefore, it is always important to know and check all of the mounting and attachment points and the safety chain before you operate the backhoe.

If you’ve attached the backhoe to the loader, you should take a moment to inspect it and perform any necessary maintenance.  Check for broken or  damaged parts, also making sure to check for leaks, cracks, excessive wear, and check the control levers.

The warning and safety signs and instructional decals are very important and will help you to  avoid injury.  You should always take them seriously and replace any damaged or missing decals.

Every 8 hours or so, you should grease all of the zerk fittings, and check the hydraulic fluid and oil and a daily basis.  If the fluid is low,  the backhoe will not operate.  Therefore, you should always take the time to check your machine.

Anytime you have to leave the operator seat of the backhoe, you should lower the bucket or attachment to the ground, turn the engine off, remove the ignition key, then exit the machine.

When the time comes to drive to the next job site, you should always make sure that you have fully raised both the front and rear stabilizers and make sure you’ve put the backhoe seat into the “down” position for better visibility.  Before you drive off, make sure that you’ve installed the transport locking pin.

Here are some other things to keep in mind:
–  Always select the right size bucket for the job.
–  Stake out the work area that is going to be excavated and use flags to mark the area.
–  Never work in areas that have inadequate overhead clearances.

Always make sure that you keep bystanders or other workers out of the swing area.  If anyone gets in the way of the boom swinging, they can very easily get injured.  The machine has no feelings,  therefore you should always be aware of who is around you and where they are standing.

Site prep is the best term that is used to describe the operations necessary to make raw land ready to accept improvements such as buildings, parking lots, roads, and other amenities.  Once the project has been completed, the site prep is invisible.

The term site prep is a broad term that can include several different tasks, such as clearing and grubbing, soil erosion, sediment control, storm drains, water and sewer pipes, topsoil stripping, rock removal, underground utility, and several other tasks.

Soil erosion and management
To protect the quality of the water, soil erosion and sediment control measures are vital.  With  most locations, storm water permitting is  required.  All erosion and sediment control measures and devices must be in place and inspected before the first tree drops or first shovel full of dirt is removed.

The designs for storm water management systems are becoming more and more complex.  The detension basins have complex and spiraling side slopes and bottoms that have almost flat grades.

The limits of clearing can be marked with a GPS dozer.  By following the outline of the display  in the cab, the bulldozer can cut a path through the wooded area so other equipment will have a clear line to go by.

The traditional method used to clear debris, such as burning, is rapidly fading away.  The air pollution standards will prevent any type of burning of most areas across the United States.

Site prep made easy
Depending on the job site, what you have to do will vary greatly.  With excavation, what is needed to complete a job is as different as night and day.  No matter what type of work you are doing, it will almost always require the use of heavy machinery.

Clearing lots for houses, grading roads, laying pipe, fixing water leaks, and digging foundations are just some of the most common tasks found with  the art of excavation.  To do this type of work,  it takes a special individual as work is outdoors year round, meaning that you freeze in the winter and burn up in the summer.

Laying pipe is a task that takes skill.  You first must dig the trench for the pipe, making sure that the elevation is right, and that the pipe will meet the specifications listed in the blueprints.  There are several different types of pipe that needs to be layed, including water, sewer, and storm drains.

When you first begin your job, you’ll need to have the proper permits from the area that you are going to be disturbing the ground in.  Once you have the proper permits, you can begin your work.  With some jobs, you’ll need to document on paper just how much land you disturb each day.

Sometimes with excavation, the job site and plans will call for ponds or temporary ponds.  This can be fun to do, although you have to be careful as well.  Very common with sub divisions, ponds are something that take a lot of skill to dig right.

Manholes are something else that you will encounter as well.  You can use machinery to set them in place, although they will need to go a certain way.  The easiest way to put them in place is by using an excavator, as you can lower it down and have a  couple of workers set it in place.

Anytime you are working on an excavation site, you should always be careful and make sure you do things by the book.  There are always rules and regulations that you need to follow.  Excavation is a very fun trade, although you’ll need to be well versed with following plans, running machinery, and having fun outdoors.

The company of Case has done it again, by introducing yet another spectacular excavator, the CX700, which weighs in at 70 metric tons and represents a new size for Case, fitting perfectly between the CX460 and CX800 models.  Case has also taken advantage of Tier 3 technologies and upgraded the CX330, increasing the power and improving fuel economy, all while adding features that will enhance comfort for the operator and simplify maintenance.

The CX700 is a powered by a high performance, fuel efficient Isuzu engine that is completely Tier 3  certified.  With an operating weight of 153,400 lbs. and over 400 HP, the CX700 is capable of digging to 31 feet 11 inches with reaches up to 46 feet 11 inches.

The frame for the CX700 is based on the larger CX800 to ensure optimum durability and reliability,  especially given the powerful performance specs the machine calls for.

New to the Case CX700 is a switch that will allow you to give priority to either the boom or the swing functions.  The CX700 also offers retractable side frames and an optional counterweight removal device, which makes transporting easier than ever before.

More durable
The Isuzu engine that powers the CX700 is fully electronic and uses a high pressure rail system that provides a 5% increase in HP and also gives the excavator 10% better fuel economy.

Several enhancements have been made to the CX330 upon releasing the CX700, including the overall reliability and durability of the machine, which includes the strength of the front idlers by beefing up the thickness and design of the center hub and improving the track seal design for increased life.

Several of the features that come standard with the CX700 are upgrades for the CX330 that will also be applied to other large Case excavator models that move forward.  The key upgrades include ease of maintenance and servicing.  Both the CX330 and CX700 models feature an easy maintenance system, lubricated bushings throughout the boom and arm, which provides extended lube periods of up to 1,000 hours.  The  engine oil filters are now mounted vertically in the pump house access area, which allows for easier access and servicing.

The addition of a modified oil drain plug with a  check valve will make it easier than ever to change oil.  Both the CX330 and CX700 both offer finer fuel filtration, up to four microns, which provides increased up-time and improved fuel performance.

The upgraded cooling system features a design that reduces the stacking of coolers for better cooling efficiency and also improves access to ease the removal of debris.  In addition to this, the Case CX700 also features a hydraulically driven, thermostat controlled reversible fan for improving the cooling of the engine and easy clean-out of the materials.

When trenchers were first introduced to the residential and commercial contractors, they rapidly became the backbone of the crew.  The time and labor trenchers saved when they replaced the pick and shovel was simply incredible.  The contractor was able to double the number of jobs his crew could complete in the same amount of time – or less.

The standard types of trenchers, whether dedicated units or attachments, they are versatile machines  for contractors to have with them on the job.  They can be used for many different purposes, from digging valve box holes to trenches for drain pipes.  In  areas that contain rocky soil, large roots, or  other problems where the other machinery can’t access the soil, the trencher will minimize downtime that was once spent digging by hand.

The many types of vibratory plows will offer even more labor saving options.  These plows eliminate the hand labor of having to lay the pipe and  back-filling on numerous jobs.  Even though vibratory plows have taken their market share and are great for pulling pipe, trenchers are still very important for many different types of applications.

The impressive company Bobcat offers three different trenching attachments that are designed for use on the smaller skid steer loaders.  The attachment models LT102, LT203, and LT304 all have digging  depths from 2 – 4 feet.

Mini trenchers
The mini trenchers have been re-designed and  finely tuned from the same concept that made standard trenchers so popular.  As the name suggests, they are lightweight, with the largest models weighing less than 400 pounds.  They are also compact,  allowing you to put them in the back of an average pickup truck.

They will also dig a trench around 4 inches wide, and up to 13 inches deep, neatly laying the soil on side of the trench.  Without any trouble at all, you can cover pipe with the back-fill, leaving a barely visible seam in the soil.

With time being money, these types of mini trenchers are the answer when working in tight or small areas, or on jobs that have a lot of trees or shrubbery. Mini trenchers have a turning radius of less than  two feet and they will easily fit through most garden gates.  Jobs that would normally need a lot of manual labor will now save you a lot of time and man power.

If you do construction or excavation work, even gardening, you’ll find trenching and plowing  equipment to be essential to your work.  If you’ve never used these types of equipment before, you’ll be amazed at just how much time you can save.

If you are just starting up your business, you’ll find this type of equipment to be just what you need.  You won’t need a lot of labor with a trencher, as you can do most of it yourself.  For saving time, money, and effort, trenching and plowing equipment is the way to go.

Both of these machines are affordable, popular, highly productive, and they both have helped lay a lot of cable and pipe in the ground.  While they both can do the work, there are differences as to how they perform when stacked up against each other in residential utility installations.

Size and price
The average dig depth for utility installations in residential applications is between 40 and 48 inches.  The basic trencher that digs to the above depth will boast a 20 – 30 horsepower engine and cost around 40,000 dollars.

The most popular type of compact excavator is the 2.5 metric ton size class, and it uses a 30 HP engine and costs around the same price.  The  biggest difference in the two surfaces when you  need the trencher to dig deeper.  The 2.5 metric ton excavator has no trouble at all digging to 8 feet or more, although a trencher that can dig that deep will require an engine with around 100 horsepower and cost upwards of 90,000 dollars!

Life costs
Not counting the bucket teeth and the replacement of the rubber tracks at 2,000 hours, fuel and routine maintenance are your only daily costs with a compact excavator.  The digging chain, teeth, and sprockets on the trenchers are considered wear items and need to be replaced often.  Even with the high consumable costs of trenchers, the differences will tend to even out when productivity is taken into effect.

For straight line trenching at an average depth, trenchers will flat out lead compact excavators. Under reasonable conditions, a trencher can work three to four times faster than that of a compact excavator.  Another area where trenchers really excel is wooded areas, where tree roots and logs can make for slow and sloppy digging when using a bucket.

When it comes down to it, compact excavators can do a lot of things that trenchers can’t, especially when they have attachments on hand.  If you are digging with a compact excavator, you can’t go anywhere near as fast as you can with a good quality trencher.

Keep in mind that a trencher isn’t a single minded machine either.  Most styles of trenchers can be outfitted with a backhoe attachment that attaches to the front end.  Whenever concrete, rocks, or asphalt stands in the way, the boom and chain can be replaced with rock teeth and a wheel.  In soft soils, you can set up a trencher with a plow attachment and plow in cables faster than using any other available method.

When it comes down to choosing, keep in mind that it all depends on your needs.  There are some cases where the compact excavator is best to choose, while there will also be jobs in which the trencher is going to do the best work.

As you may know, the CX330 is the upgrade to the 9050B model from Case.  The CX330 is quite an upgrade, being much bigger than the 9050B.

In standard form, the CX330 is almost 5,000 pounds heavier than the 9050B.  This added weight comes from a larger counterweight and from a redesigned car-body that will now completely enclose the swing system.

These added pounds will also contribute to the boost in the CX330s over-front capacity, and in combination with higher hydraulic pressures the travel circuit, give the excavator a very impressive 16% boost in  draw bar pull, which means more power for negotiating poor underfoot conditions and very steep grades.

In addition to the new features, the CX330s digging linkage has been enhanced in many ways.  The boom and arm, deeper in cross section to accommodate  higher digging forces, now incorporate V-groove type welds that are placed by robots and 100 percent ultra sound inspected.

The boom foot and boom to arm pivots use improved bushings, new plated pins, and new dust seals that combine to make a more durable and easier to take care of assembly.  The newly hardened chrome pins will also contribute to the overall digging linkage durability.

Even though the basic 6 cylinder, 8.3 liter engine in the CX330 has been used in Case products since  1985, continual refinement over the years has changed nearly 85% of the original engine’s part numbers.  The CX330 features 259 net HP with an air to air inter-cooler and a free breathing 24 valve cylinder head.

The electronic logic that controls the new engine’s fuel system tracks the machine’s operating parameters and keeps the system continually armed to respond instantly and precisely to the fuel requirements of each individual cylinder.  The total electronic design of the engine will also eliminate cable and step motor controls from the fuel system, with a large gain in reliability.

Even though modest changes in the CX330s digging linkage geometry will contribute to the higher forces of digging, the big guns here are the refinement of the trench with it’s open center hydraulic system.  The main pressure in the implement circuit is up almost 8%, with the hydraulic cylinder diameter up 7% as well.

Hydraulic power
The increase in hydraulic power combines with the more efficient linkage geometry to yield almost 20% more bucket digging force and 15% more arm force.  With 19 more HP, the CX330 can drive it’s main hydraulic pumps with much better force.  In addition, the new pumps will produce about 6% more flow for increased hydraulic speed at much lower system pressures.

The new PCS (Pro Control System) will manage the hydraulic system and interface with the 6TAA-830 engine, and does it with more electronic genius than the 9050B did.  Similar to the 9050B, the CX330 does have manually selected working modes, although it departs from previous designs by adding a new automatic work mode.  By working in the new automatic mode, the CX330 can analyze load demands and operator input at the joystick, then adjust the engine and hydraulic pumps to balance power and speed with efficiency and even with the economy.

Other PCS features include a high speed assistance system, which will speed up boom and arm functions, and an automatic power boost system as well.  The power boost system will increase main pressure by 10% for 8 seconds if the implement system reaches the standard relief pressure for more than 1 second in tough digging conditions.

With everything the CX330 from Case offers, it’s  truly the best excavator in years.  Case has outdone themselves this time, doing their part to make excavating both fun and exciting.  If you’ve been looking for the perfect upgrade from the 9050B, the CX330 is all that and a bag of chips.

There are always going to be times when, no matter how carefully an excavation company plans out a project, there simply isn’t enough equipment on hand to handle the requirements of the project without running out of time.  The choices at this point are clear – rent the machines you need or go ahead and make the purchase.

It is however, not easy to make these types of decisions, thanks to several factors that you’ll need to consider.

Rental pricing
Its no secret that rental companies make a killing with the equipment they rent out.  Most companies will rent on a daily or weekly basis, which is good for them but can be bad for you.  Depending on what area you work in, the price can be very high or just right.

Depending on what type of equipment you need, the price to rent will vary.  Excavators and off road dump trucks are among the highest to rent, as they can cost as much as 12,000 dollars per month!  This may seem a bit outrageous at first, although if you own a profitable company and are working on a big project, you’ll have problems meeting the price.

When you need more equipment and don’t want to rent, you can buy your equipment.  Buying is the way to go if you plan on using the equipment more.  If you work on large projects on a frequent basis, you may want to look into buying the equipment you need instead of renting.

Buying will save you money in the long run, providing you are going to be using the equipment again.  If you need the equipment for one or two projects, you may just want to rent.  Sure you won’t own the equipment, although you certainly don’t want to buy something you won’t be using.

One of the great things about renting is the fact that company you rent from is responsible for fixing anything that breaks.  Your company won’t be responsible for repairs, as you don’t own the equipment.  If something breaks or goes wrong, simply call the company and they will come out there and fix the problem, as the price for repair is included in the rental contract.

If you choose to go ahead and buy the equipment, then your company will be responsible for the repair of the equipment.  As you probably know with owning other equipment, you’ll need to do regular maintenance and service on the equipment.

Making that final choice on renting or buying is ultimately up to you.  You should always think about finances, and if you can afford the machinery.  If you don’t have the finances or capital to buy what you need, you should go with renting.  Either way you go, you’ll get the machines you need to complete your job and stay ahead of schedule.

There are many different opinions as to what machines should actually be classified as earth moving equipment. There are many different types of equipment that fall in this category, such as excavators, backhoe loaders, dump trucks, and
even loaders.

Other machinery that falls in between are articulated trucks, wheel and track tractors, and even scrapers. The thin line is normally drawn at motor grades, which are more than capable or light duty excavation, although they are mainly used to level lots and grade roads.

If you take a glance at any equipment literature from leading companies such as CAT, Komatsu, or Case, you’ll see right away that they believe the biggest and most important change over the last several years is increased productivity. This is normally followed by greater comfort and safety.

The increase in productivity is the result of many different advancements. CAT (Caterpillar) cites that more powerful engines with a faster rise in torque which allows machines to respond faster to increased power demands. Even though this new generation is far more powerful, it has a reduced impact on the environment as well.

Most of the newer machines have electronic control systems that will optimize both engine and transmission performance, as well as fuel consumption and hydraulic system performance.

Take for example the CAT mid sized G series wheel loaders that feature electronically controlled powershift transmissions. Each and every transmission offers autoshift capabilities that ease the pressure on the operator, and an electronic clutch pressure control that smooth shifts the gears for longer life.

In the industry, good operators are getting harder and harder to find. Manufacturers find themselves stressing that operator comfort and convenience need to be taken into account not only to make the job easier, but also more efficient and productive as well.

The new cab designs offer better visibility, reduced noise and vibration, and improved comfort as well. The new control systems will require low operator effort while also improving the control of the machine for both the experienced as well as the in-experienced operator.

Easier maintenance
Almost all new machinery offers electronic monitoring systems that will provide constant information on the health of the machine for the operator. These types of systems provide information to technicians, including service modes that will help them to diagnose conditions quickly.

Now days, machines are designed to make routine maintenance easier. With CAT’s wheel loaders, regular service points are easy to access from ground level, with site gauges making it easier to check the fluid of the radiator, hydraulic oil, and transmission – without having to use dipsticks.

Changes for the better If you compare the excavation equipment of today with the machines of the past, you’ll notice that the changes are better. The machines of the past relied more on operator skill and technique, as very few of them had electronic features.

Today, almost all types of heavy machinery offer electronic features. Electronics are a great thing, as they can make the life of an operator easier than ever. You don’t need to get out and check the fluids anymore, as all you need to do is take a look at your instrument panel, which can help to save you a lot of time.

Operators who have a lot of experience know first hand that machines of the past can’t begin to compete with machines of today. With technology always getting better, it just makes you wonder what is in the future for heavy machinery. Years from now, one can only begin to wonder just great heavy machinery will get – and what other features
will make the life of an operator even easier than it is now.