Heavy equipment has been changing how we industrialize our lives since the 1800s. Take a journey on the history of heavy equipment.
Have you ever stopped to think about the process and creativity needed to build the world around us? Whether it’s a specific truck for heavy hauling or a piece of construction equipment, heavy machinery has supported civilization to develop.
Though we don’t often think about the effect of these many inventions, the industry is vast. Heavy equipment includes excavators, backhoes, bulldozers, and dump trucks; many of the machinery we move regularly.
Here is an overview of the history of heavy equipment.
One of the most important inventions of civilization was the crane. Ancient Rome powered them with humans or animals well into the middle ages.
In 1830, William Otis developed the first steam shovel, the grandfather of the modern hydraulic excavator. Shortly after, in 1840, John Deere began manufacturing steel plows designed to work in the thick soil.
In 1886, Benjamin Holt created the first combine harvester, followed by a steam engine tractor in 1890. The first gas-powered tractor was built in 1892 by John Froelich. The tractor was the first gasoline powered tractor with forward and reverse gears.
Agricultural equipment began to
The 1920s marked the introduction of bucket wheel excavators to mine precious metals. This is when the Caterpillar company became official (it used to be called Holt). As the years went on, various other machines were invented to support construction, such as the bulldozer – originally called the bull grader.
The bulldozer was a modified tractor and quickly grew in popularity. The design has since transformed into what we see today with special attachments to move soil or cement, shift boulders and remove tree stumps.
During the Great Depression, manufacturers had to resort to selling parts abroad during economic hardship. However, heavy machinery was used to build iconic monuments such as the Golden Gate Bridge, and the design of bulldozers influenced tanks.
After WWII, there was a boom in suburban, residential, and commercial expansion. Heavy machinery played a considerable role in making this a success. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, built the highway system we know today.
Heavy equipment began to thrive with new hydraulic systems gaining popularity over cable-operated machines.
Compact heavy equipment and new environmental regulations forced heavy machinery companies to change engines to lower carbon emissions. Compact wheel loaders became popular in the U.S.
Heavy machinery continues to evolve. Manufacturers are still changing how machinery can be more fuel-efficient and lower emissions. There has also been a rise in renting equipment.
The Future of Heavy Machinery
Commercial and residential buildings continue to grow. Heavy equipment and operators are still in high demand. Companies are using technology to develop autonomous machinery, improve customer centered solutions, and increase machine life cycles.