Evolution of Heavy Equipment

Evolution of Heavy Equipment

Today the kind of machinery that is used to demolition or earth moving is versatile and can perform different kinds of functions. Technologically advanced heavy equipment can complete heavy tasks efficiently in a short period of time and do not require any maintenance. However, in ancient times, their rustic construction required the use of animals, pulleys, and people to carry out heavy load moving tasks.

A Look At The History Of Heavy Equipment

Evolution of Heavy EquipmentThe history of heavy equipment can be dated back to the first century BCE. This was the time of the Roman Empire and their famous engineer, Vitruvius, detailed the use of heavy equipment in his work, De architectura. This shows the underlying need for such equipment in carrying out construction activities.

Though according to historical records the ancient version of today’s Pile Driver was invented in the 1500s, its origin can be traced 5000 years back when a similar version of it was used in the construction of Loch Tay in Scotland and Crannogs at Oakbank. The 18th century saw the invention of the crawler tractor which laid the foundation for the evolution of the bulldozer.

Heavy Equipment During The Early 19th Century

Until the early 19th century, heavy equipment required manual or animal labor for working. As a result, a lot of time was spent in carrying out work with them. All this changed with the invention of the steam-powered engine and it was used in heavy equipment for the purpose of giving higher level of power to lift and move heavy loads. The steam engine was the rise of steam tractors which were used for earth moving and load carrying.

The steam-powered engine replaced the internal combustion engine in the 20th century, which saw a major turn of events for the heavy equipment manufacturing industry. Now the kind of power that could be provided by such equipment was high, enabling construction work to be performed much faster. At this point, heavy equipments were produced in large quantities in factories.  The first heavy equipment to come out from mass production was the Fordson tractor in 1917. The largest of mobile land machines, the bucket wheel excavators came out during the 1920s.

After the First World War, tanks came to be used extensively and also gave way to the use of the bulldozers. It was after the First World War that the Caterpillar Tractor Co. was established, which was the world’s first manufacturer of earth moving equipment. This period from 1900 to 1930 saw the evolution of the bulldozer with new features and advancements being added to it.  The period of the Second World War saw the release of excavators.

These equipment were required because of the shortage of laborers during that time. A noted manufacturer Gradall initiated their production of the excavator in the early 1940s. It was used for load carrying and demolition activities in construction projects. The end of the Second World War saw the rise of container cranes in construction work projects.

Modern Heavy Equipment

Over the course of the 20th century, kerosene, ethanol, and then gasoline were used to power the engine. Now what we see on the roads are diesel engines and in most cases mechanical transmission is replaced by hydraulic machinery. Today a variety of heavy equipment is available in the market such as tractors, skid steers, backhoes, timbers, loaders, and much more. They can also be fitted with a variety of attachments for carrying out different functions.


By knowing about the history of heavy equipment and how they have evolved into the present day systems, you can better appreciate their usage and also know how the latest technology is benefiting you in terms of time and efforts spent in earth moving or in carrying out demolition work.

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