Heavy Equipment vs. Compact Equipment

Heavy Equipment vs. Compact Equipment

Having the right equipment for your construction project is essential, especially if your project involves moving materials. Just any equipment won't do, though. You need to find the right size and type. Knowing how to choose the best equipment for your project can be difficult, which is why we put together this construction equipment size guide.

The size of the equipment you need will depend on the specific project you're working on. How much material your project requires you to move is a significant factor in deciding if you need heavy or compact equipment. When making this decision, it's important to consider how much space you'll have while completing your project.

This article looks at examples of small vs. large construction equipment and the benefits of renting heavy construction equipment from The Cat® Rental Store.

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Heavy Construction Equipment

Heavy construction equipment is useful for a wide range of projects, which is why using it can be more than worthwhile. Let's look at some of the most common heavy construction equipment and their uses.

Articulated Trucks

Articulated trucks are often referred to as dump haulers or articulated haulers. They are great for forestry, construction, mining and quarries. Feel free to go off-road with this equipment because of its all-wheel drive. Articulated trucks are perfect for driving over rough terrain, slippery terrain and inclines. They also tend to be bigger than dump trucks, so they are often used for hauling in construction or quarries projects.

It doesn't matter if you're hauling a water load, dumping or doing forestry work. Articulated trucks have different body options to suit all of your needs.

If you need an articulated dump truck, we have one that includes a state-of-the-art Cat ACERT™ engine with high power and up to 20% torque. You'll be comfortable and productive in these machines due to their relaxing cabs, automated features and high body volume.

Asphalt Pavers

You can use asphalt pavers to load, spread and compact hot mix asphalt. Start by loading asphalt in the front, and the paver uses flight feeders to move the asphalt to the rear, spreading it out with augers and then leveling and compacting it with a screed.

At The Cat Rental Store, we have various asphalt pavers for you to choose from. We offer 12 different pavers that vary in size and paving ranges. Most pave an area 2.55 to 5 meters wide, although we also have machines that pave as wide as 6 meters and as narrow as 1.75 meters.

Backhoe Loaders

Backhoe loaders are one of the most versatile heavy machines you can use. Backhoe loaders are useful for the following:

  • Digging
  • Trenching
  • Material handling
  • Back-filling
  • Demolitions
  • General construction
  • Paving
  • Asphalt breaking

The Cat Rental Store has backhoe loaders with multiple center-pivots, various dig depths and specialized loader attachments. If you rent a backhoe loader from us, you'll get a low-hour machine that can perform various challenging jobs. Rest assured that we routinely inspect and service our machines so they can support you in your project.

Cold Planers

Also called asphalt smiling machines, cold planers effectively perform various functions on roadways, such as:

  • Frost heave repair
  • Pothole repair
  • Asphalt repair
  • Pavement texturing
  • Curb cutting
  • Removing roadway
  • Removing traffic lane stripes

Our Cat cold planers come with an advanced rotor drive system and high-precision controls. The following are just a few of the different models we have available for you:

  • PM102 track: If you want excellent traction and control while you work on your demanding pavement milling project, this model is your best bet.
  • PM622: This half-lane model can remove asphalt and concrete quickly and efficiently, removing the full depth in one pass.
  • PM822: This cold planer has a powertrain with a milling speed of 328 feet per minute. If you're looking for an operating width of at least 9.27 feet and a maximum milling depth of 13 inches, this model may work for you.
  • PM825: If you need an operating depth of at least 10.03 feet and a milling width of 98.6 inches, this machine may be the right one for you.

Compactors and Rollers

Whether you need to decrease the size of waste materials in a landfill or make sure the soil won't shift under a new road, a compactor is an excellent tool to utilize.

A road roller, or a roller-compactor, is typically used to compact asphalt, concrete, soil, and gravel, making it perfect for agricultural projects or construction projects concerning roads and foundations.

Our inventory of compactors and rollers at The Cat Rental Store includes compactors of all sizes, from large ride-on double drum rollers to heavy rammers. We also have ultra-durable landfill compactors at The Cat Rental Store that can withstand the most severe environmental conditions. If you need a roller with large double drums and maximum compaction capabilities, the Cat tandem vibratory roller can help you there. Our versatile pneumatic rollers are great for compacting natural soils and materials with lime or cement.

Large Dozers

If you're familiar with mining or construction projects, you're probably aware of the substantial power of large dozers. Typically, they are used for the following:

  • Digging
  • Leveling dirt
  • Excavation
  • Earthmoving
  • Moving on rough terrains
  • Road building
  • Clearing away debris
  • Snowplowing
  • Tearing up asphalt

At The Cat Rental Store, we have large bulldozers that can handle significant amounts of materials. No matter what you need your Cat dozer for, we have one that's built just for that. For example, there may be models more helpful for particular jobs, such as snow plowing or tearing up asphalt.


You can use draglines for dismantling and transporting materials, especially if you're conducting an open-pit operation. For example, you can use draglines to move overburden from mines. Our dragline rentals are built for reliability and safety and can help your business stay profitable and productive.

With our expansive network of dealers across the world, we can provide you with heavy machines when you need them right away. For example, we have the 8750 dragline with a large bucket capacity to handle any mining condition.


If you need to do some mining or exploration, large drills are extremely helpful. For example, they are suitable for sampling subsurface materials, construction settings or drilling wells.

Whether you need a rotary drill or a track drill, we have you covered. Not sure which one you need? Our rotary drills are reliable, accurate, robust and durable. We also offer these drills with various engine sizes. A Cat track drill focuses more on speed and efficiency with its advanced hydraulic systems and fast drilling speeds. If you need to get a job done quickly, a track drill will help you do so.

Electric Rope Shovels

Electric rope shovels are well-known for being efficient and cost-effective loading tools. They are an excellent choice for mining projects with their long operating life.

If you need an electric rope shovel that can handle dipper payloads up to 120 tons and work for up to 120,000 hours, we can help you out. Our electric rope shovels have high digging accuracy and reduce operator fatigue.

Soil Compactor

Soil compactors are for heavy-duty projects, such as dozing or compaction. The following industries use soil compactors:

The ride-on soil compactors we have for rent are made for heavy-duty compaction. Our vibratory soil compactors provide high speeds, excellent grading capabilities and great compaction performance.

Here at The Cat Rental Store, we carry a large Cat compactor rental fleet with machines that are durable and advanced in their technology. Rent with us and make your project easier.

Feller Buncher

You can use feller bunchers for harvesting trees. They allow you to cut and remove trees from an area. You can even hold more than one tree at a time with a feller buncher, allowing you to maximize efficiency while keeping performance steady.

Whether you need a track feller buncher or a wheel feller buncher, we have what you need. Both of these machines can hold multiple trees at once, but our wheel feller bunchers can cut up close and operate on wheels.

If you need to reach trees from a distance, we have feller bunchers with long arms and attachments. Some of these attachments can even reach up to 28 feet.

Compact Construction Equipment

Although heavy construction equipment is ideal for a wide range of big and small projects, compact equipment can come in handy. Let's look at some of the most common compact construction equipment and their uses.

Compact Track Loaders

Compact track loaders perform various digging and construction jobs. The following industries often use them:

  • Landscaping
  • Road work
  • Construction
  • Transportation
  • Agriculture
  • Clearing

Compact Wheel Loaders

This piece of compact equipment can handle some heavy lifting and long-distance travel. Landscapers, agriculturists and snow removers typically utilize compact wheel loaders.

Mini Excavators

Mini excavators are typically used for construction projects. Have a smaller construction project to take care of? Consider renting a mini excavator for the following:

  • Digging holes
  • Plowing snow
  • Demolishing small structures
  • Making small trenches
  • Landscaping
  • Repairing sewer lines
  • Digging swimming pools
  • Plowing snow

Skid Steer Loaders

This small vehicle is typically used in construction and landscaping to perform various functions. You can outfit skid steers with various attachments to make them suitable for multiple jobs. They also come in a variety of sizes.


Telehandlers typically live on construction sites. If there are obstacles in your way, a telehandler can help you reach above and over them, whether you're working outside or inside. You can use them when changing light fixtures, repairing utilities and painting walls and ceilings. 

Pump Equipment

You can use pump equipment for water removal. Renting this type of equipment is a good idea because you won't have to pay maintenance and storage fees just to finish a small project or after recovering from an emergency.

Screening Plants 

Screening plants can separate rock, soil, sand, gravel and other construction and demolition materials. You can even get a portable unit for easy transportation.

Benefits of Heavy Construction Equipment

If you're trying to decide between small vs. large construction equipment for your project, consider the following benefits of using heavy construction equipment.

Comfort and Safety

If you're looking for a machine that you'll need to spend a lot of time in, that machine needs to be safe and comfortable. Some of the machines you may be in all day might include an excavator, backhoe, wheel loader, skid steer or dozer. Add in the long stretches of time you'll spend in the machine with temperature changes and visibility changes, and you'll want a safe and comfortable option.

Most larger machines have enclosed cabs with heating and air conditioners as well as glare-resistant glass, which can help increase both comfort and safety. Many new large-sized machines even have ergonomically designed controls and seats and restraints that will protect you while keeping you comfortable. Some newer large machines also have integrated sound dampening for hearing protection and built-in dust filtration systems. 

If you prioritize your or your employee's safety and comfort above all else when getting a job done, then a larger machine might be your best bet. 

Bucket Capacity 

A machine's bucket capacity is vital when choosing the size you'll ultimately rent. Typically, the larger the machine, the larger the bucket capacity. Consider how much time you need have to load materials and the kind of environment where you'll be working. If you have a big job to do and a strict schedule, you'll want to rent a heavy machine with a large bucket capacity, especially if you're working with soil, gravel or other large aggregates. 


The job you're doing requires strength from you and your machines. If you're trying to decide between a smaller dozer and a larger dozer, you'll need to consider the level of strength you need your machine to have. 

If you're looking to move large amounts of material, then a large machine might serve you better than a smaller machine. Also, if you're working with wet, heavy material, a larger machine is going to help you out better than a smaller machine would. 

If you need brute strength and a high level of pushing power, then you'll want to go for a heavy machine over a compact one. For example, if you're dozing a large volume of wet material, you're going to need that extra strength and pushing power.

You'll need to consider the conditions you'll be working in when deciding on the size of your dozer. If you have many transportation options and plenty of room to move around on your job site, then heavy equipment will be appropriate for you to rent. 

Tail Swing

If you need a longer tail swing, you'll need heavy equipment. Longer tail swing radiuses provide you with a better leverage factor and higher outputs than smaller equipment can offer. This is because the distance beyond the center of the machine's turret is greater than it would be in a compact machine. 

Ultimately, heavy equipment with a long tail swing will leave you with longer operating dimensions, more productivity and more comfort.

Benefits of Renting Heavy Construction Equipment

We've talked about the different uses for certain heavy construction equipment, but let's explore the many benefits of renting it. Here are some of the advantages of renting your heavy equipment:

  • Save on up-front investment: Particularly heavy equipment can cost you a significant upfront investment that you won't recoup until you sell the machine. When you finally sell it, you might not get back what you paid for it. Renting can help you avoid the investment and the selling process.
  • Avoid operational expense: Certain equipment may need you to hire a small service team to provide its upkeep periodically. However, services like changing fluids and hydraulics will be the rental service provider's problem when you rent.
  • Free up the cost of storage and transportation: With a rental, you can let the service provider deliver and pick up the equipment on demand. You don't need to construct large storage spaces for times when equipment is not required.
  • Maintain strong balance sheets: Any machines that you may have purchased outright are considered capital-equipment debt in the books. Maintain your borrowing power by renting your machines!
  • Environmental and legal compliance: Compliance issues can be a challenge to handle if you bought your equipment. However, if you rent your machines, your service provider will address these issues.
  • Reduce the waiting time: Waiting for your purchased machines to arrive leaves a lot of idle time for your employees. No matter the size of the machinery, if you rent it, there is a quick turnaround time. Save time and money by renting.
  • Renting opens up new opportunities: Being able to rent any kind of equipment opens the scope of your business. For example, you may only have machines good for construction at the moment, but if you rented machinery, you could add landscaping services.
  • Maintain market competitiveness: It doesn't matter if you're a small company if you can quickly get the equipment you need through renting. Give yourself a competitive edge when it comes to new projects.
  • Try the product before buying: Maybe you aren't sure about purchasing a particular type of machinery. Consider renting it and trying it out before making the final decision on your purchase.
  • Get up-to-date technology: The market for heavy machinery can be competitive, so we provide the newest models of machines available for rent. Then you can get your job done efficiently and quickly while complying with emissions regulations.
  • Shielding from market fluctuation: The construction market is constantly fluctuating, and the cost of equipment lowers and raises. Renting equipment allows you to stay ahead of the market and protect yourself from financial downturns. Leasing allows you a flexible situation that protects you against the fickle market. 

Get Your Equipment From The Cat® Rental Store

If the project you're working on calls for large construction equipment, your best bet is to rent it from The Cat Rental Store. We have the right equipment for any job you might have and skilled team members who will help you select the right equipment for your project from our wide range of Cat machines.

The following is a list of benefits you'll enjoy when working with us:

  • Try before you buy option
  • Cost-effective options
  • Advanced technology
  • Large fleet inventory
  • Flexible rental terms
  • Convenience
  • Reliability

If you want to rent your equipment from a knowledgeable and flexible company, contact us for a quick quote or find a dealer near you and pay us a visit!

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