The Impact Of Construction Heavy Machines On The Environment

Emissions from heavy machines or off-road mobile machinery are significant contributors to air pollution indexes as these machines emit high levels of carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOX), hydrocarbons (HC) and as well as particulate matter. It is due to this reason that regulations revolving around which machines are acceptable and which machines are not in many countries have become much tighter.

Machines such as excavators, bulldozers, cranes are mobile machines that require to be transported to project sites where they are used and most of these models fitted with combustion engines. There are a wide variety of factors that impact the level of exhaust emissions of such construction equipment and due to this reason, it has become quite complex on just how much emissions (rate of emission) are produced by these machines.

However, in general the rate of emission are generally dependent on the type of equipment (example a mini excavators produces much less emission compared to a standard excavator), the condition of these machines as the older the equipment becomes, the more emission it produces based on the level of diligence afforded by construction companies towards equipment maintenance and operating conditions or environment.

Emissions Rates Based on Equipment Type and Condition

In general, the level of emissions from the exhausts of construction equipment are dependent on the engine year of engine manufacture and model (newer models are much more fuel efficient and produce much less emission), the size of the engine which in turn determines the horsepower. It is currently a battle among leading manufacturers to produce engines based on design variations and automatic control systems that ensure less emission.

In most countries in Europe and America for example only Tier 4 Final Stage engines are allowed to be imported as the emission rates and fuel consumption of Tier 4 engines are significantly lower that previous engines. Even so, the fact that even Tier 4 spec equipment deteriorate over time and heavy usage which eventually result in these machines consuming more fuel and higher emissions as the number of hours the machine is used increases.

These machines usually deteriorate due to poor maintenance of the machine which is the reason as to why most contractors choose to use machines such as excavators for hire or use electric powered mini excavators which are also generally available from heavy machine rental companies.

Equipment Maintenance

As regulations tighten all over the world, construction companies are left with no other choice but to have a structure of good maintenance for their equipment or obtain machines such as excavators on hire. Keeping equipment in good working order is critical towards the efficient utilization of fuel in correlation to output power.

This may only be achieved via regular maintenance such as oil changes; greasing mechanical parts, changing filters etc. and maybe even commit to compulsory major maintenance such overhauling the engine to ensure that the machine is able to continue operating without attracting a fine from the authorities.

Despite the fact that such strategies lower operational costs and ensure lower downtimes due to machine failure, reports indicate that most contractors are more focused on completion of projects that machinery health which most of the time lead to delayed maintenance or run-to-failure maintenance.


According to seasoned construction company managers, the best way to avoid all of the above issues is to rent heavy equipment as the machines provided by rental companies for brief use are always well kept and maintained. It is in fact much more cost productive and cost effective to use machines such as excavators on hire for construction projects.  

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