Construction Equipment Trivia – Interesting Things You Should Know about Excavators

Excavators are among the first heavy machines that are usually deployed during a construction project. Used in clearing away rubble like tree stumps and dirt in a construction site, excavators indeed make heavy-duty operations a lot easier to accomplish. Here’s a list of fascinating facts about excavators that will interest you:

The First Steam-Powered Excavator

The first steam-powered excavator, which was called steam shovel, was invented by a young American innovator, William Otis. At the age of 22, Otis, who was a civil engineer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, created the world’s first mechanical excavator that was powered by steam. He received a patent for his invention in February 1839, which was officially called “Crane-Excavator for Excavating and Removing Earth.” Unfortunately, just a few months after officially getting his creation’s patent, he died in November 1839; he was only 26 years old.

Early Uses of the Steam-Powered Excavator

During the time Otis invented the steam shovel, railroads were being constructed in the USA and the UK and with that, the steam shovel became in demand. Steam shovels were also used in digging foundations and basements for skyscrapers at that time. In 1904, during the construction of the Panama Canal, 102 steam shovels were stationed there to do the digging. It took them a decade to finish the digging, but without the help of the steam shovel, it would have taken a lot longer than that to complete the Panama Canal.

Construction Excavator

The World’s Largest Excavator

Built by the German company Krupp in 1978, Bagger 288 is the world’s largest excavator. The Bagger 288 was built specifically for Rheinbraun—an energy and mining firm—to remove overburden before coal mining in Germany. This excavator, which weighs 13,500 tons and stands at 721 ft., can excavate 240,000 tons of coal daily.  But because it is so heavy, it can only travel 2 to 10 meters per minute. The Bagger 288 has been featured in several TV shows/movies, including Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.

The Many Types of Excavator

Over the years, several types of excavator have been invented and sold in the market. Among the most common excavators nowadays are the dragline excavator, compact excavator, amphibious excavator, walking excavator, suction excavator, and bucket-wheel excavator. All these excavators have different specializations and features.

The World’s First Hydraulic Excavator

The first excavator to apply the concepts of hydraulic technology was built by Sir W. G. Armstrong & Company in 1882 in England. However, the machine didn’t function well. The first functioning all-hydraulic excavator was built in 1897 by Kilgore Machine Company.

Other Innovations

The first hydraulic excavator that has the capability of doing a 360-degree turn was conceptualized by Hymac, as shown in a BBC documentary in 1960. In 1993, the world’s first ever Zero Tail Swing excavator was released by Japanese diesel engine manufacturer, Yanmar; this allowed the excavator’s weight to stay inside the track’s width as it slides.

And that’s it! Hope you learned something about excavators today.