Buckets and quick couplers for excavators

Buckets - 14/09/2021

Discover how to choose the right bucket based on the application and improve efficiency using quick couplers.

Excavators are extremely versatile machines. Choosing the right bucket and using quick couplers correctly ensure high productivity, increased fuel savings, and reduced wear.

Buckets installed on excavators, backhoe loaders, and cranes can be used in many sectors, such as public works, waste disposal, agriculture and, of course, construction works. However, there’s no bucket that can be used for all these sectors. Therefore, you need to make a choice. But how?

There’s a bucket for every application

Buckets can be divided into two macro-categories: digging buckets and levelling buckets, which can be of different types, depending on the operation to carry out and texture of the soil.   

Digging buckets

Digging buckets can be divided into the following types:

  • Standard Buckets
    Generally used for digging and moving medium soil.

  • Heavy-duty Buckets
    Which are reinforced in their points most subject to wear and are used for loading materials in the presence of moderately abrasive soils.

  • Rock Buckets
    Used in the presence of extremely compact, abrasive and rocky soil. Usually, they are fully made of wear-resistant materials.

  • Skeleton Buckets
    Used for selecting and sorting materials. The inner width of the skeleton depends on the size of the material to be selected.

  • Trapezoidal Buckets
    Ideal for constructing and maintaining ditches and drains. Medium soil.


Levelling buckets

These buckets are divided into two categories:

  • Ditch-cleaning Buckets
    used for cleaning and maintaining ditches and slopes, levelling and finishing roads and squares. Medium soil.

  • Tilting Buckets
    used for reclaiming, cleaning and levelling slopes. It allows a 45-degree inclination on each side. Medium soil.


Size is another crucial element to take into consideration

The bucket’s size can influence its performance. The following three factors need to be considered to determine the bucket’s size.

  • The excavator’s specificationsfor example, a bucket suitable for a 30 t excavator cannot be used on a 15 t excavator and vice-versa. The machine’s specifications, such as weight, breakout force, arm kinematics, outreach, and application. 

  • Material density: large buckets don’t always ensure increased productivity.Some particularly dense materials can weigh down the large bucket, thus extending the work cycle. On the other hand, for particularly compact materials (such as hard clay), using a smaller bucket than the one used for denser materials, such as the aboveground, is recommended.

  • The truck’s size and capacity: the bucket’s size and productivity should be in line with the truck’s capacity. This way, the loading operation can be carried out in fewer steps, thus saving time.Moreover, using a suitable bucket means consuming less fuel and reducing machine wear.


The advantages of using quick couplers for mounting and substituting buckets

The quick coupler goes between the excavator and the bucket, making it easier to replace the equipment. Thanks to this tool,installing and removing the bucket on and from the excavator’s arm is faster, increasing work efficiency.

Quick couplers can be universal or dedicated. In both cases, they are available in two versions mechanical or hydraulic.

Whether mechanical or hydraulic, universal quick couplers are hooked to pins secured to the drilled plates (known as “ears”) on the upper part of the bucket. The mechanical attachment differs from the hydraulic one because the former does not allow you to install and remove the equipment without leaving the vehicle. The operator must remove it manually using a lever that acts on a spring (or a screw, in the event of heavy-duty vehicles), which releases the pins. On the other hand, the hydraulic attachment allows the operator to remove the equipment automatically from the excavator’s cabin.

Even dedicated quick couplers can be hydraulic or mechanical. Unlike universal quick couplers, the dedicated ones are not hooked to the pins on the bucket’s ears but to plates generally welded to the upper part of the bucket.


The ITR dedicated mechanical quick coupler

The ITR dedicated mechanical quick coupler is a simple and compact attachment made of anti-wear and mechanically resistant steel. It progressively recovers the clearance between the plate and the lower part of the attachment caused by wear, without reducing the digging force.

This type of quick coupler ensures quick and safe bucket installation. This system works with a shaped plate (or to be shaped) mounted on the bucket, which features a superstructure with a suitable coupling system for each excavator.


Buckets and quick couplers ITR_shaped kit

Shaped kit

Buckets and quick couplers ITR_kit to be shaped

Kit to be shaped











This superstructure is hooked to the bucket through a pin and a wedge, which is housed in a way that prevents the bucket from coming off.


A quick coupler consists of the following components:



Dedicated quick couplers ITR


A – Bracket plate

B- Plate with spring-holding tubes

C - Springs

D- Wedge

E- Dust-proof plate

F- Allen-head screw

G- Release plate

H- Nut

I- Safety pin (to be locked with split pins).


Installing and removing an ITR quick coupler

The quick coupler must always be installed and removed with the equipment firmly resting on the ground and with the operating machine at a standstill. The machine provided are equivalent to those used for the machine’s standard buckets on which the equipment must be mounted.

Installing and removing an ITR quick coupler 



Once you have mounted the quick coupler to the arm, using the pins supplied with the machine, hook the latches to the pin on the bucket (Fig. A).


Then, insert the wedge into the hole on the bucket-plate kit. The wedge must go in automatically (Fig. B). If this does not happen, check whether there’s dirt in the attachment’s housing or on the wedge guides.


Activate the safety systems, inserting the pin, which must be locked using the split pins provided (Fig. C).

To remove the quick coupler, remove the safety pin and the wedge, using the lever provided (fig. D) to act on the release plate.



Maintenance and prohibited operations when using the ITR quick coupler

This type of attachment does not require particular maintenance. It’s sufficient to keep the wedge guides greased and check the wedge’s condition daily, paying attention to any failures, deformations, and cracks in the welds.

Prohibited operations:

  1. Do not use the quick coupler if it’s not safely locked, not even for temporary movements.

  2. Do not carry out installation and removal operations while the machine is running.

  3. Do not use the quick coupler to adjust, move the material or place it on the ground to settle the machine.

  4. Do not carry out any operation that can compromise the safety of the operator or any person in the vicinity.

Contact the author of this article for tips on how to choose the best bucket for your needs and get further information on quick couplers. Use the form below and subscribe to our newsletter to stay up-to-date with our products and the ITR world.



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Any manufacturers’ names, brand or product names, trademarks, part numbers, symbols, drawings, images, colours and descriptions appearing in this document are for reference purposes only, and it is not implied that any part listed is the product of these manufacturers. All trademarks and registered trademarks mentioned are the property of their respective owners.

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