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How Much Can An Excavator Dig In A Day? [Includes Formula]

Excavators are one of the most popular and effective pieces of equipment used to move large volumes of dirt for construction projects and other similar projects. If you have an upcoming job that requires dirt removal and you need to estimate how long it will take, you may be wondering, “How much can an excavator dig in a day?”

An excavator could be used to dig anywhere from 350 to 1,000 cubic yards per day, depending on a number of factors including bucket capacity, type of ground, operator skill and efficiency level, and more.

To help you better plan for what type of excavator you’ll need and how long it should take to complete your upcoming project, we’ve provided some resources below.

Top Factors That Impact Dig Speed & Efficiency

One of the biggest factors that impact how much an excavator can dig in one day is the unit’s bucket size, which typically ranges from 0.5 to 1.5 cubic yards of bucket capacity. Most common regular-size excavators have a 1 cubic yard bucket capacity, and mini excavators are closer to the 0.5 cubic yard capacity.

Another factor is the type of ground you’re digging. Soaking wet mud or ground with large rocks will be more difficult to dig and will take significantly more time to dig. Dry, loose dirt with minimal rocks or stones is the most ideal type of ground to dig efficiently.

This is a given, but the excavator operator’s skill and efficiency level can also have a big impact on production speed. For someone who has very little experience operating heavy equipment, there will not only be a big learning curve at the beginning, but even when they get the hang of the process, they simply won’t be able to work as quickly and efficiently as someone who has thousands of hours’ experience digging with an excavator

How To Estimate Dig Volume

Now that you know what factors impact productivity, it’ll make it a bit easier to estimate how much volume you’ll be able to dig on your specific project.

Keep in mind this is way too oversimplified, but in a nutshell, you can estimate dig volume and speed with the following formula:

bucket capacity * cycles per hour * hours worked per day = daily dig volume

For example, an excavator with a 1 cubic yard capacity (which is typical) operated by an experienced operator who can perform 120 cycles per hour (2 per minute) and perform 6 hours of actual work per day (in an 8-hour shift), could dig approximately 720 cubic yards of dirt per day.

If you run the numbers, you’ll notice that slight changes in any factor could make a big impact on production. For example, if your excavator can only haul 0.5 cubic yards instead of a full 1 yard, you’ll dig only half as much dirt in the same period of time. Similarly, an operator who takes twice as long as someone with extensive experience will dig half as much dirt in the same amount of time.

These are really obvious things you notice when you take the time to run the numbers, but it’s surprising how many people don’t take the time to make accurate calculations. So it’s important to take your time and consider all factors that could impact dig speed and volume before making excavator plans for your next project.

If you are located in or near Montgomeryville PA, Doylestown, PA, West Chester PA, or New Castle DE, contact us here at Eagle Power & Equipment to speak with an advisor to help you choose the best excavator for your needs.