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Construction of canals requires different types of machineries and equipments, the selection of which depends on many factors. These types of canal machines and their selection is discussed.

Canals are substantially significant infrastructures that considerably affect the economy of the county or region in many ways. Therefore, it is necessary to construct such sizable project in the best possible way with lowest budget.

So, the selection of construction machineries directly influences the cost of the project because not only does it decrease required man power but also improve the quality of the project and decline the construction period.

In order to specify the best and most efficient machineries, engineers should be familiar with the machine capacity, their suitability to his/her project, and other machinery aspects.

That is why different canal construction machineries and their selection criteria for any given project are explained in this article.

Types of Canal Construction Machineries

Fig.1: Canal Construction Equipment

Canal Construction Machines

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Fig.2: Canal Construction Machines

Factors Considered for Selection of Canal Construction Machineries

Different types of machines are required for different canal construction. Following factors are considered for their selection:

  • Top width of the canal
  • Bottom width of the canal
  • Percentage of slope on the walls
  • Whether the slope is constant throughout the structure
  • Number of variations in the profiles
  • The existence of a haul road
  • Expected concrete supply to the paver

Types of Canal Construction Machineries

  • Canal excavators
  • Canal Liners
  • Loaders
  • Mobile cranes
  • Towable backhoe
  • Canal finisher
  • Crusher
  • Dozer
  • Dumpers
  • Canal paver
  • Concrete mixer

Canal Excavators

There are different types of excavation machines for digging canals such as bucket wheel excavator (as shown in Figure 4) and hinge bucket chain trimmer. The former can be used to excavate canals with up to 9m top breadth. The latter can dig canals with up to 25m top widths.

In addition to full section canals, the hinge bucker trimmer machine can be used for half section canal, extended half section canal and separated by berms.

Top Width of Canal

Fig.3: Top Width of Canal

Bucket Wheel Excavator

Fig.4: Bucket Wheel Excavator

Bucket Chain Excavator

Fig.5: Bucket Chain Excavator

Half Canal Cross Section Trimmer Machine

Fig.6: Half Canal Cross Section Trimmer Machine

Canal Liners

Lining of canals is crucially significant because they eliminate seepage in the canal and consequently the loss of water would be avoided.

Various machine liners with various capacities and sizes are available for canal lining such as towed boat liner, telescopic liner and hinge concrete liner.

Towed boat liner (Figure 7) can be used for canals with 6m top width and capable of lining up to 60m2 per hour. Telescopic liner (Figure 8) is capable of handling canals with 9m top width and the lining rate is 180m2 per hour. As far as hinge concrete liner is concerned, it used for canals with top breadth of up to 25m.

Similar to hinge bucket chain trimmer, hinge concrete liner may be used for full section canals, half section canals, extended half section canals and separated by berms. Figure 9 shows hinge concrete liner machine.

Towed Boat Liner

Fig.7: Towed Boat Liner

Telescopic Liner

Fig.8: Telescopic Liner

Hinge Concrete Liner

Fig.9: Hinge Concrete Liner


Loaders are used to clean construction site from debris, mud and excavated materials and upload these materials into to other vehicles to transport such materials away from construction site. It also may be used to transport dry construction materials in project site.

There are different types of loader such as wheel loader, backhoe loader, skip loader and telescopic loaders. Figure 10 to Figure 13 show different loader machine respectively.

Wheel Loader

Fig.10: Wheel Loader

Backhoe Loader

Fig.11: Backhoe Loader

Skip Loader

Fig.12: Skip Loader

Telescopic Loader

Fig.13: Telescopic Loader

Mobile Cranes

Cranes are machineries similar to towers which consist of base, jib, motor and mast. Mobile cranes are commonly mounted on vehicles and used to lift or down materials.

Mobile Cranes

Fig.14: Mobile Cranes

Towable Backhoe

It is small size machinery which can be used in the construction of canals for many purposes such as clearing construction site and transporting light weight construction materials to the project site.

Towable backhoe has a bucket in front and toe at the back and both can be replaced.

Towable Backhoe

Fig.15: Towable Backhoe

Canal Finisher

Finishing canals is very important because it would avoid water logging. Finishing is conducted through concrete lining on both sides of the canal.

Vehicles that carry concrete can feed canal finisher from one side only and a conveyor which spans the canal, used to transport the concrete to the other side of the canal.

There are transverse and longitudinal joints created by attachments on the canal finisher. The joints will be finished by worker on the work bridge finish joint.

Full Canal Cross Section Finisher

Fig.16: Full Canal Cross Section Finisher

Half Cross-Section Canal Finisher

Fig.17: Half Cross-Section Canal Finisher


It is used to crush rocks and stone to smaller sizes and there are various types of crusher which can be used in the canal construction. For example, impact crusher, roller crusher, jaw crusher, cone crusher and pressure crusher.

Impact Crusher

Fig.18: Impact Crusher


Dozers are complicated to drive that has continuous treads and a board hydraulic blade in front. The types of the blade used controls the function of the dozer. It is applied for many purposes for example earth removing, cleaning and grading lands.


Fig.19: Bulldozer


Dumpers are small size machines which uses diesel to generate power. There are two main types of dumpers categorized based on the machine size such as dumper trucks and dumper crawler.

The main functions of dumper in canal construction are clearing construction site and transport construction materials to the project site.

Dumper Trucks

Fig.20: Dumper Trucks

Crawler Dumper Fig.21: Crawler Dumper

Canal Paver Machine

Paving canal is an alternative to lining canal, so either lining or paving is conducted for the canal. Paving machine used to pave the canal and it covers both sides of the canal.

The width of finishing is quite large, so the paving operation can be carried out in a higher rate. The machine can be configured to pave canals with different slope breadth.

Canal Paver Machine

Fig.22: Canal Paver Machine Followed by Stop Water Insertion Machine

Concrete Mixer

It is well known machinery that used to mix concrete components to achieve uniform mixture. There are mobile concrete mixer and fixed concrete mixture.

Mobile Concrete Mixer

Fig.23: Mobile Concrete Mixer

Stationary Concrete Mixer

Fig.24: Stationary Concrete Mixer

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