Sometimes referred to as a “bulldozer,” “dozer,” or “crawler tractor,” the crawler dozer is one of oldest and most well-known pieces of construction machinery. Its origins date back to the 1920s, an outgrowth of tractors used in agriculture. Today, however, the machine can be found working in numerous sectors, including building and residential construction, demolition, landscaping, mining, quarrying, infrastructure projects, road building, waste handling, reclamation, snow removal, forestry, agriculture, road building, and pipeline and oil and gas field activity.
The crawler dozer tends to be more expensive than some other types of equipment and is generally less likely to utilize attachments, though there are many available for multiple applications. Most machines are equipped with a blade in the front and usually a ripper (a claw for breaking or digging) in the back. The machine runs on tracks rather than wheels, hence the name “crawler dozer.” However, it should be noted that there is a wheeled version of the dozer that is generally heavier than crawler models and used primarily in mining applications. Caterpillar, with six models that have a power range of 248-907 horsepower, is the only major OEM in the North American market offering these machines. The market for wheeled dozers is very small and not covered in this report. Likewise, the “mini-dozer,” targeted more to home or small-scale usage, is also not covered.
The crawler dozer is easily distinguished from the closely-related crawler loader. The chief difference is that the crawler loader, instead of having a blade in the front of the machine, has a loader. It also runs on tracks and is most commonly used for loading or digging rather than pushing material, the primary function of the dozer.