Truck Mounted Loader vs Excavator

Articles | 23 january 2023 16:51 PM

If your business requires the daily use of material handling equipment, you're probably familiar with using an excavator or truck-mounted loader. However, depending on your environment, location, or business model, you may not need both types of equipment to accomplish daily tasks. Which material handling machine would work best for your use case, what are the advantages they bring, what are the comparisons between a loader vs excavators?

We're going to cover all this and more, discussing the pros, cons, and general limitations of truck mounted loaders vs excavators. If you're in a hurry, we've also provided a quick comparison chart that will get you started on the right path.

What is an Excavator?

Excavators are heavy-duty machines typically used to move large amounts of earth and aggregate-type materials. They can also be used to load, lift, or carry heavy objects that exceed the limits of smaller equipment. A two-piece boom is attached to a hydraulic cylinder and arm, which connects to a detachable boom tip accessory that depends on your job site. Some of the most common of these are various digging buckets, stump harvesters, rippers, and grading beams.

There are several types of excavators used today:

  • Standard excavator: Your average run-of-the-mill excavator, often used for digging.
  • Long/special reach excavator: Excavators that come with a special length boom arms, which enable you to carry out very specific works, e.g. river dredging, trench digging, and demolition.
  • Wheeled excavator: These machines have wheels rather than tracks, providing faster speeds and greater efficiency while operating on flat ground.

What is an excavator used for?

An excavator's maneuverability and versatility makes it ideal for many tasks where other types of machinery would not be as efficient or productive. It is often an excellent candidate for industries such as:

  • Construction: Carry goods, carve earth, and otherwise expedite your daily tasks.
  • Mining: Load, shift, and haul precious materials from one area to another.
  • Demolition: Chunk apart structures or objects with greater precision and care.
  • Forestry: Remove trees, pull stumps, and carry logs from areas with soft terrain.
  • Agriculture: Destroy rocks, dig trenches, and move earth with ease.

Remember that excavators can do more or less work depending on their size and weight capacity, which ranges considerably.

What is a Truck Mounted Loader?

Truck mounted loaders are an alternative to excavators. As the name describes, they are mounted on a road going commercial truck as opposed to a specific transit superstructure. Whereas excavators primarily are transported to a work location where materials are to be moved around, truck mounted loaders are used for loading and unloading materials that need to be transported over long distances. Loaders come with various attachments depending on the nature of the work, and can be customized to meet the needs of different jobs.

There are four major weight classes:

  • Light capacity: You can easily fit these machines on small or medium-sized vehicles, some of which may already be in your fleet.
  • Mid capacity: These mounted loaders provide a heavier workload than light capacity and therefore must be installed on mid-size commercial trucks. 
  • Heavy capacity: These loaders are capable of handling larger objects, including boulders and rocks, and therefore need to be mounted on larger commercial trucks.
  • Super heavy capacity: The largest category of material handler loader, these machines are designed for the toughest workloads and therefore must be installed on heavy-duty commercial trucks.

What is a Truck Mounted Loader used for?

Many organizations rely on truck mounted loaders instead of excavators to accomplish daily tasks. Not only do these machines offer proven cost benefits and spades of added flexibility, but they are usually easier to transport near urban sites, metros, and high-density environments.

Some of the most popular industries for truck mounted loaders include:

  • Scrap Handling: They are reliable, for even the most remote sites, and provide a superior level of safety and comfort.
  • Waste & Recycling: They offer the flexibility needed to work smoothly with the local infrastructure of the waste and recycling operations.
  • Forestry: Built using high-grade steel and an optimized structural design, they are a lightweight and long-lasting solution.
  • Disaster Recovery: Equipped with a heavy-duty grapple, they can easily handle bulky waste and construction debris or downed trees.
  • Railroad: Whether pioneering new lines, carrying out maintenance of way on a tight schedule, or moving materials between railyards or sections under repair, they are a reliable and cost-effective solution
  • Municipalities:  Rugged and reliable, they bring an unprecedented level of safety for operators and deliver lower total cost of ownership to city and municipal fleets.

These are just a few of the most common industries for truck mounted loaders. Dozens of other businesses may find uses for this equipment, or even utilize both an excavator and a truck mounted loader.

Comparing a Truck Mounted Loader vs Excavator

You now know the primary differences between truck mounted loaders and excavators. Now it's time to compare the two machines and consider your options more meticulously.

Check out this helpful chart to compare a loader vs excavator in seconds.


Truck Mounted Loader





Weight Capacity

<6Tm to >40Tm

<1Tm to >100Tm

Truck Mountable



Customizable Attachments




Lifting, Loading, & Unloading Aggregates & Materials

Excavation, Demolition, Materials Movement


There are a few other differences to keep in mind when comparing a loader vs excavator. For example, truck mounted loaders transport from worksite to worksite more easily than excavators, as they are mounted on a truck. Whereas excavators need to be loaded onto a transport vehicle to be moved to another worksite. 

Find your next piece of equipment with HIAB

If you have already decided that a truck mounted loader is the right equipment for your company or need to find out more, Hiab is able to help.  Designed to withstand the toughest conditions and combined with tough construction and smart solutions, your business will have a competitive edge in productivity and reliability. Industry revolutionizing technology offers unrivaled safety levels that also elevate payload and efficiency.

Contact your local sales representative to learn more.