Best Practices for Excavation Jobs
Excavators are the workhorses on construction, road building, and utility projects. They are used for a wide variety of jobs, from digging and lifting to material handling or demolition. Because they are so common on jobsites, it’s important to operate them as efficiently as possible to minimize costs and maximize productivity. Below are some excavator tips and best practices to follow, so your machine reaches its full potential, and you can keep your costs as low as possible.
Stage your work area correctly
Before you even begin digging, a key part of excavation jobs is properly setting up your work area and mapping out how everything will operate on the site. You need to determine where your spoil pile will be, where you’ll stage piping or other work materials, and to ensure your excavator has sufficient space to move around. Not only will mapping your site help you operate more effectively, but it will also keep your machine from becoming boxed in. Make sure you follow all regulations and requirements for excavation jobs. For example, OSHA requires that spoil piles should be at least two feet from the edge of the trench you’re digging.
Choose the right size excavator
Another of the most important excavator tips is to make sure it’s the proper size for your job and complementary equipment. For example, if you’re loading an articulated truck, it should take three to five bucket loads to fill the truck bed. If it takes more than five loads, you are wasting time and fuel. When determining what size excavator you need, you should also consider the maximum reach needed and the density of the material to be lifted and loaded. Do not try to operate your machine outside of its specified ranges.
Consider your truck and excavator position
Many excavation jobs require loading trucks. We recommend positioning the truck on the left side of the excavator, so that both the excavator and the truck are facing cab to cab. You should park the truck with its bed headboard in line with the rear of the excavator cab. That way, the operator will have about a 25 degree swing into the truck, which is the most efficient position for loading.
Excavate from the top down
One of the most important excavator tips for efficient and safe digging is to gradually work your way down. You should avoid digging from the bottom up, because doing so can waste time and fuel, as well as lead to undercutting and potential cave ins.
Dig over the front idlers
When possible, on excavation jobs we recommend digging over the front of the machine rather than over the side. If you must dig over the side of the excavator, be aware that your maximum lifting capacity will be lower than when working over the front idlers and your machine may be less stable.
Use excavators with grade control
Modern excavators are designed to utilize aftermarket machine control systems. This technology is becoming more prevalent on excavation jobs, because it prevents over and under digging, and it eliminates the need for employees to check the grade. There are varying degrees of sophistication with machine control system in both 2D and 3D/GPS systems. Using these systems can prevent wasted time, fuel, and labor. Implementing a grade control solution is one of the most important excavator tips we can share with you.