Ubiquitous on mini-excavators, dozer blades for backfilling and grading have crept up to the medium 20,000- to 40,000-pound excavator size class.
As in other machine categories, operators have been asking for increased versatility, hence the blade option. Dozer blades on excavators have also proven popular in numerous Construction Equipment Field Tests, as IUOE independent operator/instructors have used them not only to backfill and grade, but to manipulate objects like rocks to position them for a bucket or a thumb attachment.
"In some applications when you’ve got the blade in front of you, it’s nice to be able to actually use that and grab rock, or slag, or other material to force them into the smaller buckets,” said IUOE Local 150 operator/instructor Chad Jeffries.
There is also the desire to use a blade to enhance positioning and performance in tight spaces.
“Connecting to the base of the chassis of the excavator, not the boom, excavators are able to grade just as well as skid steers, CTLs, and bulldozers,” said Ken Forestall, CEO of DOZR, an online equipment rental company.
“While other machines often require you to be in close proximity to whatever you’re moving and grading, mini excavators have the unique capability of moving soil or material to the front of the excavator and then using the blade accordingly,” Forestall said. “This can make them better options for when areas might be tight or hard to maneuver.
Here is a sampling of offerings from some major manufacturers, skewed toward the largest machines in the 20,000- to 40,000-pound category offering blades.