The heavy equipment industry faced quite a dip like many other industries in the Great Depression-era in the 30s. The great emergence of heavy equipment was after World War II when populations were on the rise, and people started moving towards suburban areas to establish their families. Highways were constructed to make it easier for heavy machinery equipment to be transported on the roads, making it possible to establish construction sites across vast areas of empty land.
Technological advancement in the field rapidly progressed, and environment-friendly regulations were put in place to decrease carbon emissions. As the demand rose and construction businesses bloomed, different and flexible options emerged for financing heavy equipment, ranging from leasing to buying.
There are a few important things to know about heavy equipment that should help you in starting or maintaining your business.
History of Heavy Machinery
Modern civilisation owes a lot of its achievements in the construction to heavy machinery. When you see this machinery operating in a city, it’s hard not to be dazzled by the whole process. The rapid enabling provided by heavy equipment helped build a huge infrastructure network, without which the world wouldn’t be what it is nowadays.
The most major advancements in heavy machinery started in the Second Industrial Revolution in the U.S., where machines were being implemented in the construction of many locations across the country. Agriculture was the first field to sow the benefits of heavy machinery as the combine harvesters, steam engine tractors, and gas-powered tractors enabled a big jump in both the worlds of agriculture and construction.
Types of Equipment
Earth-moving equipment comes in varying uses and sizes; depending on your goals and type of business, you’ll need to have some general knowledge about the most important ones:
- Lifting Equipment: Hoisting and lifting plays an important role in any construction site. The forklift is a high-powered truck that can lift from 1 to 50 tons of equipment and components vertically. Cranes are used in the transportation of heavy materials through simple yet effective dynamics and are known for their enabling height. You can learn more about lifting equipment from here. Arming yourself with knowledge about this equipment is important, as it is a staple in any environment where heavy materials are in operation.
- Excavators: They are one of the most commonly used equipment in the construction industry, and it’s almost impossible to find a construction site without one. Excavators use either wheels or tracks for movement. A bucket arm that can rotate almost 360 degrees makes them quite versatile, not to mention custom attachments that are beneficial in different jobs. They’re used for mining, handling material, excavation of large areas of land, demolition, heavy-equipment lifting, rough grading, and many other functions.
- Backhoe Loaders: A backhoe looks like a farm tractor with a fitted controllable shovel in the front and a container in the back for digging purposes. Unlike bulldozers, they’re usually used in small to medium jobs that don’t require the same space needed by bigger machinery. They are wheel driven and can easily be operated in urban and traditional roads. The bucket in the back is interchangeable to varying sizes to dig different trenches. Backhoe loaders are usually used for moving dirt, backfill excavations, and digging holes.
- Bulldozers: It’s one of the most famous and popular heavy machines thanks to its extreme power and reliability. A bulldozer can move huge masses of dirt and ground along the land. The sharp metal plate is hydraulically controlled to adjust the depth and angle of the plate. The large size of the bulldozer helps it move the topsoil layer while crushing any large boulders or rocks in the way. It’s also used for rough or fine grading.
Heavy equipment is known for its extreme power. Its abundance in countless projects all over the world makes safety a priority for any business. Your employees should always be up-to-date with all forms of machinery they’ll be using, as any mishap can cost a lot. Training usually includes classroom instructions and practical guidance, from identifying safety hazards to the safe manoeuvring and control of heavy equipment.
When it comes to lifting equipment, the operators should undergo extensive training on how to safely mount and dismount objects while removing any suspicion of hazards. It’s of paramount importance to ensure that they know the load capacity and speed limit of every single lifting equipment used. Refresher courses should routinely be carried out to prevent any mishap from happening in case the employees forget or neglect important safety protocols.
Knowledge about heavy equipment can help you visually check whether the machines should be operating or not, for safety and legal reasons. In the heavy equipment business, it’s quite normal to rent machinery or use sub-contractors for their services. You should be able to check the condition and the operational state of the equipment to know whether to proceed or not. Visually gauging the state of the tires and tracks for significant signs of wear and tear can help prevent lost days of work or even safety hazards.
You can always begin by checking the fluid levels like engine oil and hydraulic fluid gauges. Hydraulic hoses, buckets, blades, and other components should seem in perfect operational condition with no cracks or insecure attachments. If the machine is supposed to rotate, make sure it’s able to rotate in all the intended directions. Always follow a strict risk assessment outlook and adhere to the manufacturer’s guidelines by using the equipment for its exact intended purposes.
Subscribe for entrepreneurial & small business advice
Subscribe to our newsletter for advice and insights on starting, managing and growing a small business in the UK.
The nature of the business where heavy machinery is used is very important in helping you decide what kind of equipment you need. The more knowledge and experience you have regarding the use and operation of heavy equipment, the more informed decisions you can make. The safety factor accompanying the use of any machinery is critically important, so never put yourself in a position where you could potentially overlook safety-related details. Whether your business is constructing towers or digging trenches for piping systems, always make sure your employees know what they’re doing and help them stay up-to-date with the latest safety practices.