Rigid vs Articulated Dump Trucks – What’s the Difference?

mining dump trucks on a construction site

The market size of America’s dump truck industry today is $19.3 billion. It’s steadily growing at a rate of 3.7%. They are commonly used in construction and mining. This is because dump trucks are built for off-road hauling. Currently, there are around 107 dump truck manufacturers in the United States. There are two main classifications of dump trucks. They are the rigid dump trucks and articulated dump trucks. Let’s find out what’s the difference between the two.

Dump trucks are large vehicles used for transporting loose materials. These materials include demolition waste, dirt, gravel, ores, and sand. A typical dump truck dimension is around 21 to 25 feet long, 8.5 feet wide, and 7.5 to 11 feet high. They can haul loads of up to 80,000 pounds. Before buying a dump truck, it is best to determine the needs and purpose of your business. Knowing the basics of its two main classifications can also help.


What are Rigid Dump Trucks?

Rigid dump trucks are classes of dump trucks where the cab and the body rest on the same fixed chassis. They use conventional steering with a drive at the rear wheel. The design of a rigid dump truck is ideal for transporting abrasive and rocky loads on a well-maintained road. They can also carry free-flowing bulky materials. The most common materials transported by rigid dump trucks are ore, rock, and shale. Rigid dump trucks are cost-efficient for those who have large amounts of loads that they need to move for a long period.

What are Articulated Dump Trucks?

Articulated dump trucks are classes of dump trucks with two separate units hinge permanently together. The front unit is the cab that contains the engine. The second unit is the dump box hinge into the cab. Articulated dumpers are all-wheel drive. Hydraulic cylinders power the steering function. Such design allows the trailer wheels to follow the front wheels of the cab. Articulated dump trucks are ideal for hauling during adverse weather conditions or in rough terrain.

Pros and Cons of Rigid Dump Trucks

Rigid dump trucks are commonly used in mines and quarries. Their rear-wheel-drive suits large areas with a well-maintained load. They’re cost-efficient when performing long-term hauling on a job site. A distinct advantage of rigid dump trucks is the ability to transport larger loads faster over large areas. This keeps the cost per ton down. Rigid dump trucks are also safer to drive at high speed. Its fixed chassis design can handle grueling stress at the greatest reliability. Rigid dump trucks are ideal for most construction sites.

On the other side, rigid dump trucks may not perform well on unruly terrain and harsh weather conditions. There’s a tendency for its frame to twist on rough terrains. They have lesser traction on slippery roads. And they’re hard to maneuver on narrow roads because of rack and pinion steering.

Pros and Cons of Articulated Dump Trucks

Articulated dump trucks can handle unruly terrains and harsh weather. Being an all-wheel drive, it can have better traction on the road. This articulated steering also makes it easy for an articulated dump truck to maneuver on narrow roads. An articulated dump truck is designed to work on a 35% incline. It’s because they are lighter than rigid dump trucks.

A downside of an articulated dump truck is that it cannot transport larger loads at a faster speed. Their trailer sizes are much smaller than rigid dump trucks. Their large tires limit their speed controls. Articulated dump trucks are ideal for mining and small job sites.

Difference Between Rigid Dump Trucks and Articulated Dump Trucks

The key difference between a rigid dump truck and an articulated dump truck is the frame. In a rigid dump truck, the power unit (cab) and trailer box (dump) sit on the same chassis. They function as a single unit. On the other hand, an articulated dump frame has two separate units. The power unit (cab) is hinged to the trailer box (dump). Even though the articulated dump truck has two separate units, these units are permanently hinged.

Another difference between a rigid dump truck and an articulated dump truck is their steering design. Rigid dump trucks use conventional steering. They utilize the rack and pinion style or rear-wheel drive. An articulated dump truck uses an all-wheel drive. This is called articulated steering making an articulated dump truck powerful when it comes to maneuvering and pivoting.

Rigid dump trucks are designed to work on a 15% incline while articulated dump trucks are designed to work on a 35% incline. This means that articulated dump trucks can load and unload faster.

The trailer box of rigid dump trucks is larger than that of articulated dump trucks. As such, rigid dump trucks can accommodate heavier loads than articulated dump trucks.

Rigid dump trucks can handle faster speed than articulated dump trucks. But articulated dump trucks are much safer to drive uphill than rigid dump trucks. 

In general, it would be best to consider different factors to identify the right type of dump truck for your hauling needs. The factors you should consider are the amount of load, ground and road conditions, type of materials, and size of the job site.


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