Earth movers are devices which are used to dig, push, and transport earth. They are utilized on construction sites and in mines, among other locations, and the largest equipment requires the skills of a specialized operator who has received training both in driving and operating the device. Earth movers fall under the general category of heavy equipment, with some examples of major manufacturers being Deere & Company, Caterpillar Inc., Terex, and Volvo Construction Equipment.
Earth movers can be designed to dig into the earth with scoops, cutting blades, shovels, and sometimes saw-like attachments which can be used for trenching and breaking up very hard soil and rock. They can also push earth around a work site, as in the case of bulldozers, and be used to carry earth to other locations, with excavator buckets being an example of equipment which can be used for transport.
A small earth mover may be simple enough for someone with no training to operate after reading a quick guide. Equipment rental businesses sometimes offer such equipment who need to rent tools for trenching and other low-level earth moving tasks. For larger and more complex equipment, someone needs to learn how to operate the equipment effectively and safely. Many earth movers are built on a tractor base, and once one learns how to operate a tractor, other heavy machinery is usually relatively straightforward to operate.
Around the world, numerous companies specialize in operating earth movers and they can be hired to assist with site preparation and other activities. Contracting out this work can be more cost effective than retaining equipment and staff for earth moving, and the professional earth movers can often get the job done very quickly. These companies generally have a limited operational radius due to the expense and time involved in transporting their equipment to job sites.
The world's largest earth movers are used in mining. These heavy earth movers can seem more like buildings than vehicles, and they are capable of excavating and moving huge volumes of earth every day. They may come with a range of attachments which can be used in various settings, and some are designed to remain more or less fixed in place, digging out the ground around them as opposed to moving across a job site. Operators who work with this equipment must be especially careful, as the devices are often large enough to be capable of crushing vehicles and other construction equipment if they are operated unsafely.