Top Tips for Choosing the Right Dozer

In the market for a dozer? Here’s how to make a selection that best fits your application and your budget.

In the market for a dozer? Here’s how to make a selection that best fits your application and your budget.
In the market for a dozer? Here’s how to make a selection that best fits your application and your budget.

Contractors often refer to the excavator as the “Swiss Army knife” of construction. But if you’re looking for another good multi-tool, consider the dozer. Capable of taking on everything from site clearing and prep to material spreading and finish grading, dozers are often the first machines to arrive on-site and the last to leave.

If you’re new to dozer selection (or it’s been a while), here are a few tips to help you choose the right machine for your needs.

Start With Your Application

Are you operating in tight spaces but need more capability than the largest skid steer loader can offer? Consider a small dozer. Primarily working on road construction or site prep jobs that require a lot of finish grading? A midsize dozer with a wider blade for more coverage area may be your best bet. Doing mostly heavy dozing, even knocking off overburden in a quarry or small mine? A larger machine with a dedicated dozing blade — universal or semi-universal — will give you the most productivity.

What if your work requires you to do a little bit of everything, and you’ve only got the budget for a single machine? A medium dozer like a Cat D6 hits the sweet spot. It’s a versatile choice that excels at spreading and finish grading but can also take on some heavier dozing tasks. And it’s easy to transport.

Think About Blade Capacity

If you’ve purchased excavators or wheel loaders, then you know the importance of bucket capacity in making the right choice. It’s no different with dozers — you’re just looking at blade capacity instead. How much material do you need to move to meet your desired production levels and project completion dates? At Caterpillar, we run production studies on every dozer model and publish those rated production numbers, so you’ll know precisely what you can expect to achieve with each size class.  Consult your local Cat dealer to rightsize the dozer that best meets your application and production requirements.

Remember the 20% Rule

Here’s a good rule of thumb as you’re sizing dozers for your next project: As you go up in size class, you’re going to get about a 20% productivity gain. So, you’ll see about 20% more production out of a D6 than a D5, and 20% more out of a D7 versus a D6. It all comes down to how much material you need to move in how much time. Is the added weight and cost of a larger model worth the productivity gain?

Don’t Overlook What Technology Can Do

Thanks to onboard technology, today’s dozers are smarter and more efficient than ever. Technology features help make work easier, especially for less experienced operators. Some blade and steering functions are automated so newer operators can work at productivity levels closer to their veteran counterparts. Seasoned operators can enjoy reduced effort and fatigue, along with faster, more accurate results.  Additional payoffs from utilizing technology include reductions in fuel, machine wear, material and time while increasing safety and quality.

These suggestions should set you on the right path as you make your dozer selection, but there are plenty of other factors to consider. Check out this podcast and this selection guide for more advice on choosing a dozer that matches your work and meets your goals.