The ‘Excavator Attachments’ Revolution

The rise and rise of ‘Excavator Attachments’

Any veteran of the construction industry cannot have failed to notice the emergence and increased use of excavator attachments throughout the plant and civils sectors. In the not too distant past, excavators were limited to little more than use of the bucket until the eventual rise of attachments meant the excavator became a ‘multi-purpose tool’ capable of facilitating tasks that were once achievable with the use of manual tools only.

Perhaps the catalyst of the attachments insurgence began with the humble Jackhammer; still suitable for particular tasks but now seen as a distant cousin of the Hydraulic Hammer which helped to spark an attachments revolution due to the realised potential for additional and more diverse hydraulic excavator applications.

A common attachment:

One of the many reasons behind the success and continued development of attachments is that the vast majority can be connected to any excavator that meets the necessary mechanical and hydraulic installation requirements. One of the main influences of this has been the use of the excavator’s standard Quick Hitch system; once used solely as a way of attaching or removing the excavator bucket, but now used for connecting an ever expanding array of attachment products.

Consequently, the practise of designing around the excavator’s standard features, together with the increasing prevalence of attachments generally, means the chances of encountering non-standard connections are becoming far less common.

Safety and Versatility

Returning to our Hydraulic Hammers example, in comparison with the days when an operator would spend many hours working in hostile conditions, the advantages of using attachments are countless. The simple fact that all the work is done within the confines of the excavator cab is in itself a vast improvement in safety that results in:

  • A safer working environment
  • Less impact on the general health of the operator
  • Vastly decreased exposure to dust
  • Protection from flying debris
  • A total elimination of the risk of Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS)
The commercial advantages of attachments

It is often assumed that there is an inevitable trade-off between safety and production, but in the case of excavator attachments, quite the opposite is true with attachments out-performing traditional methods in every possible area. Innovation by design means there is now a vast choice of attachments available with each capable of handling a specific task. Major commercial benefits associated with using excavator attachments include:

  • A range of models or sizes to suit different scenarios
  • The ability to get through an impressive workload in a short amount of time
  • The ability to articulate to a precise angle of approach
  • Low vibration and silencing technology
  • Low operating costs due to the time saving element

The cost and time benefits of using excavator attachments has undoubtedly been the driving force behind their wider appeal and popularity. With cost and efficiency always a priority, it is not surprising that many modern excavator attachments have taken over the painstaking tasks that generate a negative financial impact. As a result, attachments are now considered the natural choice of the construction industry. Listed below are just a select few of the most popular excavator attachments on the market:


Turns the excavator into a temporary drilling rig, extensively used for the drilling of post holes, stanchion bases and pre-drilling for pile driving. Coming in a range of sizes, and to suit a particular excavator class range, most Augers have detachable cutting heads (flights) which have a simple Linch Pin fitting.


The adoption of Compactors as an excavator attachment perfectly exemplifies how attachments have greatly improved and succeeded a process that was once both manual and laborious. This equipment provides efficient, fast clean compaction of surfaces, including; soil, sand, gravel, hardcore and recycled materials etc. Hydraulic Compactors can also be used in trenches and embankments, and as with all excavator attachments, Compactors effectively eliminate the need for human intervention in the working area.

Steel Shears

Steel Sheers act as powerful jaws with the ability to cut effortlessly through steel plate, H and I beams and other metal objects. As such they are commonly employed in scrapyards, recycling plants and on general demolition sites. They usually connect hydraulically using a dual flow and rotation circuit which allows a 360 degree continuous rotation that provides excellent manoeuvrability, especially useful in confined areas.

Selector Grapples or Sorting Grabs

These highly versatile grabs are used for sorting and handling a variety of materials, from masonry through to scrap steel as well as handling material such as green waste. Similar to Steel Shears, Selector Grapples connect via a dual flow and rotation arrangement and they also have a fast and efficient open/close time, allowing for a higher rate of productivity.

Tree Shears

Tree Shears, when attached to an excavator, are ideally used for forestry and woodland management. These powerful shears make light work of timber harvesting and brush control. The 360 degree rotation, in conjunction with the excavator’s linear articulation, is a huge advantage in the closed forest environment. Tree Shears can cut up to 350mm diameter and then transport the offcut to the required area.

A growing range of attachments from Groundforce Attachments

This is just a small sample of what’s available in excavator attachments and the continued success of the attachment concept means that more and even better products coming to market is inevitable. A comprehensive attachments range is fulfilled and delivered by Groundforce Attachments, exclusive suppliers of Mr Cropper, Sandhurst and Piletec attachments to the construction and civils sectors. As well as the equipment outlined in this feature, Groundforce Attachments also supply Clamshells, Log Grabs, Pallet Fork attachments, Planers and Stone Magnets to name just a few.