Tipper Truck vs Dump Truck - Is there a difference?

Unsure when to hire a tipper or a dump truck? Don’t stress, we'll help you decide which one you need and the difference between the two.

Let us guess, you’ve been asked to source a ‘dumper’ by your site supervisor, and you don’t know whether they mean a tipper or a dump truck. Or you’re new to construction and just want to understand the difference between the two. Don’t stress, we’ve got you here at iseekplant and we’re happy to share our knowledge with newcomers to the industry. From trailer lengths to the number of axles, haulage capacity, and off-road capability, tipper trucks come in a range of different combinations and configurations that have been purpose-designed to suit specific applications. Dump trucks, by contrast, have standard applications and environments where they work and apart from the payload tonnage of the machines, don’t really deviate from the standard configurations. This article will help you decide if you need a dump truck or a tipper truck for your site.

Tipper truck vs dump truck - is there a difference?

Yes! (we scream) The terms tipper truck and dump truck are interchangeable in general construction language, and in many countries, tipper trucks and dump trucks are considered the same machinery. However, at iseekplant, we categorise both types of machinery on our marketplace, and here's why. In Australia, dump trucks are more commonly viewed as the larger, heavy-duty model varieties that are used for transporting substantial loads and material across varied terrain. We believe dump trucks to be the off-road truck or ‘yellow gear’ trucks of the industry (i.e., articulated dump trucks , site dumpers & rigid rear dump trucks) rather than the road registered tipper trucks. For us, the distinction is whether they are road registered and can carry materials on paved roads. We categorise all trucks registered for use on national asphalt roads as ‘ road trucks ’ then break that down into different types of tippers (e.g. belly dumper, grab truck, tilt tray etc.)

How to decide between a tipper and a dump truck

The answer to this question will depend on the heavy haulage application, which essentially means the volume of materials, the environment where your carting materials, the state legislation and other factors that impact site productivity (like machine availability). To help you decide, below are the 4 big questions to ask yourself.

Are you hauling on paved or unpaved haul roads?

If you're working on an off-road site or construction environment without paved or public roads, you can use both off-road dump trucks (usually articulated dump trucks outside of the mining setting) and road registered tippers, provided the ground is sufficiently stable enough to allow the tipper’s tires to operate. Articulated dump trucks tend to have bigger tires, and the larger the surface area of the tires, the more likely it is to operate effectively on softer ground aggregates. However, tippers with a large wheelbase can often handle the soft stuff as well. So, you have more options when working off-road. However, on any public Australian roads you cannot drive unregistered off-road dump trucks or risk fines & substantial commercial penalties. If you must haul materials over any national or local road for any distance, then your only option is a road registered tipper and a licensed heavy rigid driver.

dump-truck-on-haul-road Articulated dump trucks hauling on unpaved roads.


What is the quality and compaction level of the ground aggregate on your site?

As previously discussed, articulated dump trucks perform better than tippers on loose aggregates because they generally have a larger surface area on their tyres, and their tyres are extremely heavy duty. So if you’re in an off-road environment where the ground is loose or wet, your first choice should be an articulated dump truck. These are usually widely available from Australian wet and dry hire plant suppliers. If you’re working on very loose ground, that is wet or not well compacted, then you might need to consider a Moroka truck or tracked dump truck over and above an articulated dump truck. These dump trucks have smaller pay loads, but are propelled by tracks which means they can cart loads over soft or unstable ground and go places tippers and articulated dump trucks can’t go.

What is your desired payload capacity?

Usually speaking (but not always) articulated dump trucks are used on civil and commercial sites that don’t have paved roads, because they carry larger payloads – the smallest articulated dump trucks carry about 20 tonnes, and they max out at about 60 tonnes. Read more about dump truck capacities. In terms of road registered trucks, 20 tonnes is where a single trailer tipper, such as a truck and dog, maxes out in terms of payload capacity. You can get more capacity from a tipper truck by going for a tandem tipper, or a semi-trailer configuration. If you want to carry more than 60 tonnes per payload, then you’re looking at a rigid rear dump truck – but these are used very rarely in civil and commercial sites, because their turning circle is hideous and their expensive as all get out. You’ll find these big boys on mine sites and in quarries, more commonly and their payload capacity can stretch to 380 tonnes. Believe it or not, that's not event the heaviest payload capacity a dump truck can carry. Find out which machine takes gold in The 5 World's Biggest Mining Dump Trucks.

Where and how do you need to ‘tip’ your materials? Manoeuvrability is key!

All off-road dump trucks have very limited flexibility in terms of where they dump their carted materials – they can only tip their contents directly at the back of the truck. These trucks also have a very large turning circle, so dump trucks are rubbish in tight access environments or areas where the truck can’t do big sweeping turns to dump or remove materials. This is especially true of rigid rear dump trucks that basically need several football fields of space to turn around. Most tipper trucks hydraulics work the same way – as do dump trucks – where the hydraulic component pushes the trailer up to expunge its contents using the force of gravity. What is the subject of much ingenuity and innovation is where the contents are expunged in relation to the trucks cabin and the level of manoevrability. Getting a tipper into a space where it can expunge its contents as close to the excavation or fill site as possible will minimise the amount of work needed by other earthworks equipment to move the material around into its desired location. Side tippers have been innovated to push up & expunge materials to the side, rather than the back of the truck – which is handy for situations such as pipelaying or trench fills. Belly dumpers are another ingenious invention where the belly of the trailer opens to expunge contents immediately underneath the tipper. You’ll see these used in mining operations where tippers drive up over aggregate hops and dump through a screening grate.

Belly Dumper Behold the glory of the belly dumper, which opens at the bottom of the trailer.

Otherwise, most road registered tippers, particularly in the truck and dog format, have multiple pivot points in their body allowing for more flexibility and manoeuvrability as the tipper is operating. Truck & pigs are less flexible, with less pivot points. If you want to hire a tipper in Brisbane , Sydney , Melbourne , Adelaide , Perth , Darwin or Hobart , click on these links. If you want tipper hire quotes quickly, then you need to use our Get Quotes feature . Same if you want to hire a dump truck in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Darwin or Hobart, click on these links. Otherwise, if you own a dump truck or a tipper truck and want more quality work opportunities, you should join iseekplant.