The Big Players in Excavation


Diggers, don’t you just love them? You see them on building sites and civil works all over Australia, but unless you are in the industry you might not know much about them. There is a massive global industry in excavation machinery and the research and development that goes into producing these amazing earthmovers runs into billions of dollars each year.

Let’s look at some of the big players out there, and look at some of their signature products.


JCB – J.C Bamford Excavators Ltd is a longstanding British manufacturer based in Rochester, England. It’s a massives company which has 18 factories around the globe and employs around 12,000 staff. Latest figures estimate that the company has a revenue of around $5 billion. It has a reputation for rugged, well-made, and reliable machinery. The company was started in 1945 by Joseph Cyril Bamford, and the business is still in the Bamford family to this day. JCB were the first manufacturer of what has become known as the backhoe digger.

Caterpillar Caterpillar Inc is a massive American manufacturer and 59th on the Fortune 500 list. Founder in 1925 it is now the biggest construction equipment manufacturer in the world, and offers everything from 1000 tonne excavators to safety boots. The Cat logo and distinctive yellow livery are now a omnipresent sight in shopping malls as much as construction sites. The company has estimated revenue of around $45 billion.

Komatsu Komatsu Ltd is a Japanese manufacturer who, like Caterpillar, have expanded well beyond their excavator origins. Like caterpillar and JCB, Komatsu specializes in the agricultural, mining, and construction industries but the range of goods and equipment it sells is wide and far reaching. It’s based in Tokyo but it was originally founded in the town of its name – Komatsu – in 1921. It is the second largest manufacturer after Caterpillar but enjoys a larger share of the Asian market than it’s US competitor. It has 48,000 employees and estimated revenue of nearly $20 billion.

 Volvo – Volvo Construction Equipment is Europe’s biggest manufacturer. Founder in Sweden in 1913 the company has steadily transformed into a giant global player in virtually every aspect of machinery production. Very reliable and renowned for longevity Volvo machinery can be found in every continent and enjoys healthy competition with both Komatsu and caterpillar. In 1998 Volvo became the first foreign company to buy into the South Korean market when it bought Samsung Heavy Industries. The company now employs around 13,000 employees, with revenue of around $50 billion.


There are no manufactures in Australia at present, although all the big international companies have a presence here. There are also several other big companies who venture into the excavator market. Firms like Case, Yanmar, Hino, and Tata all produce variations of track machines and backhoe diggers, and it’s not uncommon to see an array of machinery on display at local excavating firms like Weber’s Excavations in Beaudesert, Queensland.