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Tips on Selecting the Right Excavator Bucket

Oct 31, 2019 Excavator blog

To coincide with the launch of our new EC200E excavator, I thought it would be helpful to provide a quick overview of excavator buckets, especially for any new excavator owners out there.

When it comes to selecting buckets, the options can seem limitless. That’s because excavators can tackle a diverse range of projects. There really is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to utilizing excavator buckets across different jobsites — even across a range of projects on the same site.

Three of the biggest considerations to keep in mind when selecting a bucket are:

  1. The quality of the bucket and its features
  2. Bucket size
  3. Matching the bucket to the application

Whether you’re well-versed in excavator buckets or still learning, you’ll find value in these tips. That’s because the consequences of using the wrong bucket can be significant. If you don’t have the right bucket for your specific application, you’ll likely see lower productivity and fuel efficiency. You could also have premature wear of the bucket.

Bucket Quality

All buckets are not made equal, so you’ll want to do your homework to ensure you get the best bucket for your needs. One thing to look for is features that promote durability and reduced wear, such as wear strips that protect the bucket’s sides and back, and side cutters that protect the bucket’s cutting edge and improve penetration.

And don’t forget about what’s on the edge of the bucket to engage the ground and the material. If you don’t have the right edge or teeth, you won’t be able to do your job the way you want. For example, general purpose buckets typically have teeth, which is great for excavating. But if you’re doing grading or landscaping work, Volvo offers a bucket with a bolt-on edge to help give your work a smooth finish. For extremely compact material, on the other hand, you may need pick-point teeth. Also look at the tip radius — a short tip radius produces enhanced break-out force which reduces wear on the bucket and a long tip radius offers greater bucket capacity.

Volvo recently launched an all-new premium tooth system that not only increases productivity and fuel efficiency, but is also more wear resistant and much easier to fit, thanks to a hammer-less pin design. The teeth feature a new locking system that has a reusable locking pin, which locks into place simply by twisting it a quarter turn. You just place, push and twist — that’s it. With a system like this, you won’t always be in the market for a brand-new bucket.

Picking the Right Size

There are a lot of factors that go into picking the right size of bucket, including:

  • Application: I’ll get into applications in greater detail below, but you want to maximize your bucket size for the application so that you can get more work done quicker. You can go too big, though, and hurt your productivity. A bucket that’s too large can slow cycle times, especially when moving high-density material. Also, digging a 24-inch trench using a 36-inch bucket would, obviously, be counter-productive.
  • Material Type and Density: The material you’re working with and its density factor into how much you can actually pick up, which in turn affects the bucket size. As noted above, having too much of a high-density material in your bucket can hurt cycle times.
  • Excavator Specs: The excavator’s size, configuration, desired reach and other specs help determine bucket size. It stands to reason that you wouldn’t put the same size of bucket on a 14-ton excavator as you’d put on a 75-ton machine. At Volvo, we have bucket sizes listed for our machines to ensure proper sizing is simple.
  • Haul Truck Capacity: In order to fill up trucks as quickly as possible in the fewest number of passes, match the excavator’s productivity and bucket size with the capacity of the truck. You’ll get more done in less time, lower fuel consumption and reduce wear on your machines.

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