Heavy equipment as a category involves a lot of machines both different and alike. Many machines have similar operations while the machines themselves are inherently very different. The backhoe, loader and excavator are the simplest example of this. Before we get into the close relationship between these three machines lets take a look at what these machines are.

Backhoe: A Backhoe is usually attached to the back of the tractor assembly and the name mostly refers to the movement by which it picks up dirt to get the job done and not its location. Backhoes are usually mounted on tires and have a restricted range of motion at about 220 degrees on the horizontal plane. Unlike the excavator the backhoe has a swivelling chair while the excavator has a swivelling cabin that rotates full 360 degrees.

Loader: A loader is usually attached to the front of the machine and usually loads and unloads dirt in the forward motion unlike a backhoe. Loaders may be mounted on both tires and tracks. Loaders usually have a restricted range of vertical motion that is used for loading and unloading dirt. Loaders are usually used to move stock piled materials. The loader assembly may be removable or permanent.

Excavator: An excavator is a specialised machine mounted on tracks used for excavation. Excavators are available in a variety of sizes but the operating mechanism usually remains more or less the same. Excavators being specialised machines have a 360 degree range of motion. These days smaller excavators called compact excavators are becoming increasingly popular since they have the compact size of the smaller ones and the power of the bigger ones.

Industry insiders are of the opinion that all the three machines are used for similar tasks and the only difference is the machine and its operation system. As a matter of fact operators well versed with backhoes find it much easier to operate the loader and excavator as and when required. The three machines are inherently very different but have enough similarities that knowing how to operate one of these makes it a lot easier to operate the remaining two.

Operators are bound to very comfortable when required to swap between the machines for tasks like digging trenches. While the machines have their similarities and the way the tasks are performed are quite similar, the way each of them is manoeuvred and stabilised is very different.

When compared, backhoes and loaders are different in the sense that backhoes are usually one single unit while the loaders are usually articulated. Due to this difference in the build, both the machines require different skills for manoeuvring and driving them. The operating system for all of these are different and need practice to get accustomed to.

The tasks may be the same, but the machines used to perform these tasks have their own set of similarities and differences making each of them suitable and unsuitable for certain tasks and job sites owing to its size, power and the way it operates.