Hydraulic Excavators vs. Wheeled Loaders

Hydraulic excavators and wheeled loaders can both move materials at mines. So which one is more effective? The excavator. Here’s why:

High breakout force

Wheel loaders must have buckets wider than their tire width to protect their rims. This reduces linear breakout force, resulting in a longer work cycle time and smaller bucket loads. Because of an excavator's greater breakout force, it is ideal for loading compacted material.


Wheel loaders typically require more than twice its own length to maneuver properly. But with an excavator, limited working space is not a problem, since it does not require forward and backward travel to do its job. This is a huge benefit on a mine site.

Less operator fatigue

Hydraulic excavators are stationary, minimizing floor congestion and reducing operator fatigue. Wheel loaders are constantly moving, which requires operator attention to be split between a variety of tasks.

Good performance on poor floors

When footing gets poor, wheel loaders travel and production efficiencies drop. Poor footing has little impact on excavators.

No tires

Up to 50 percent of a loader’s operating expense involves tire wear. Tracked machines have costs due to undercarriage wear, but wear cycles are longer and can be managed more effectively.

Accurate dumping

Wheel loaders have a relatively low dump height making it difficult to see where their load is going. Excavator operators sit very high and can easily see into the beds of the trucks they load.


Wheeled loaders are faster than excavators, and the ability to quickly move loaders to another location is a major benefit. However, many mine managers have found the constant shuffling of loaders to be inefficient. Remember, excavators are not as speedy, but they can travel.