The Biggest Excavator in the World

Excavators are huge, heavy machines designed to dig out earth with what is referred to as a bucket. A common sight on construction projects the world over, excavators are truly gargantuan machines. Here are the contenders for the world’s biggest excavator.

Building Big Engineering
26 January 2023

Excavators are present at almost every building site in the world and rank among the largest machines that are built today. The race to build the largest digger in the world has been running for years with ever larger and more powerful machines being engineered. These enormous excavators push the limits of what’s technically possible and their sheer size and scale continues to astound.

The history of the excavator goes back over two centuries. The ‘steam shovel’ – as it was known – was invented in 1796 and these early excavators made a significant contribution to global industrialisation throughout the nineteenth century.

Railways, open-cast mining, roads, tunnels, man-made canals (such as the Suez Canal) and industrial plants were all made possible using excavators. As steam hit its limits in the 1930s, cheaper diesel and electric motors took over.

Today, the biggest excavators in the world are staggering feats of design, construction and engineering. While there are lots of different types of excavators for a myriad of jobs, our list focuses on one criteria over all, operational weight. Let’s dig down into the details and find out which is the world’s largest excavator.

Komatsu PC 8000-11

Powerful hydraulic digger (Photo: Avalon_Studio via Getty Images)

Length: 14 metres | Width: 10 metres | Height: 9.6 metres | Weight: 773 tons

The PC 8000-11 is the Japanese firm’s most powerful hydraulic digger and a contender for world’s biggest excavator. The bucket has a capacity of just over fifteen tons and its twin diesel engines generate an awesome 4,020 hp.

The PC 8000-11 was designed with input from some of the world’s largest mining companies and is equipped with state-of-the-art safety systems, intelligent data solutions and precise performance monitoring.

Liebherr R9800

A massive Liebherr excavator (Photo: ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Length: 23.9 metres | Width: 10.5 metres | Height: 11.7 metres | Weight: 810 tons

The German giant is a contender for the biggest excavator in the world. Designed for large-scale mining work, it has the biggest backhoe capacity in the world and is powered by two, sixteen-cylinder diesel engines producing 4,000 hp.

The R9800 has a bucket capacity of almost sixteen tons and can dig to a maximum depth of nine metres. The 17,500 litre fuel tank propels it to a top speed of 2.6 km/h.

Hitachi EX8000-7

An Hitachi Digger (Photo: Construction Photography/Avalon via Getty Images)

Length: 22.3 metres | Width: 10.6 metres | Height: 9.9 metres | Weight: 839 tons

The halo model from Japan generates almost 3,900 hp and is designed to work around the clock in some of the most challenging conditions on Earth. It is one of the largest diggers in the world.

With a 14,900 litre fuel tank, the EX8000-7 has a top speed of 2 km/h and a bucket capacity of just over fifteen tons. It can dig to a maximum depth of 8.4 metres.

Caterpillar 6090

Caterpillar excavators (Photo: VCG via Getty Images)

Horsepower: 4,500 | Width: 9.7 metres | Height: 9.9 metres | Weight: 1,000 tons

With a payload of 103 tons and a fuel tank that brims out at over 15,000 litres, the Caterpillar 6090 is a formidable machine and ranks near the top of the list of the world’s biggest excavators.

The biggest of big cats is put to work in some of the world’s most demanding mines and construction projects. The bucket has a load capacity of almost eighteen tons and, thanks to the state-of-the-art hydraulics, the 6090 is deceptively easy to control and manoeuvre despite its spectacular size.

Bagger 293

Large bucket wheel excavator (Photo: Schroptschop via Getty Images)

Length: 225 metres | Width: 46 metres | Height: 94.5 metres | Weight: 14,200 tons

Built in 1995 by German industrial company TAKRAF, the Bagger 293 is not only the biggest excavator in the world, it is the world’s biggest and heaviest land vehicle. It’s so vastly huge and so much larger than its competitors that the title of world’s biggest excavator is barely even a contest.

The behemoth bucket-wheel excavator is designed to excavate vast amounts of material from the world’s biggest mine sites. The wheel measures over twenty-one metres in diameter – as high as a four-storey building – and each of the eighteen buckets can carry more than five tons of earth and rubble. As the earth is scooped up, it’s dumped onto a conveyor belt to be taken away.


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