What do you think of when you hear the words “heavy equipment” mentioned? What images enter your mind when you come across the words “heavy machinery?” Or perhaps you have never thought much about those things. Typically, large pieces of equipment such as cranes, bulldozers, excavators, backhoes, loaders, and others are associated with those terms. And although these are considered “heavy equipment” and “heavy machines”, one could wonder if larger machines exist. They do. If you think cranes and bulldozers are big, take a look at the biggest moving man-made machines.
First is the giant bucket wheel excavator , a.k.a. ” the bagger 288.” It was built by Krupp in Germany of 1978.
This machine is 984 feet long, the equivalent of about six Olympic-sized swimming pools in length. It weighs about 91 million pounds, the size of about 380 Blue Whales, which is the largest animal on the planet. It moves on treads to different open-air mine sites. In 2001, last time it went on one of these expeditions, it traveled 22 kilometers in a straight line.
Although the average person would consider a bulldozer a large machine, for the bagger 288 it was nothing but a snack. And don’t think that the bagger is the only one of its kind. At Krupp’s site (http://www.tk-mining.com/hme.html) you can see more, such as these:
Despite how huge and impressive the bagger 288 is, it just would not be fair unless it had a competitor in size. In Lichterfeld, Germany there appears to be another “biggest” moving man-made machine. This colossus of a machine is called the Overburden Conveyor Bridge F60.
Although it weighs less than the bagger 288 (only 11,000 tons instead of 45,500), its length is untouchable-502 meters, or 1,647 feet, (compare 300 meters, or 948 feet for the bagger.) It is also 202 meters, or 663 feet wide. It was built in 1991 by VEB TAKRAF Lauchhammer. After only 13 months in operation, it was shut down for “energy-political” reasons.
To get an idea of how long this machine is in relative terms, if the Empire State Building fell over its length would fall about 200 feet shorter than that of the F60. If the Sears Tower fell over it would be less than 100 feet longer than the F60. Note this comparison includes the lightning rods and antennas of the Empire State Building and the Sears Tower, which if it did not, the F60 would be longer in length than the height of both buildings. Also note that the Sears tower is said to be the tallest building in the world measured from ground to pinnacle point. Below is a picture comparison between the F60 and the Eiffel Tower.
After seeing how enormous these machines are, we have not seen exactly what they can do. A last look at the heaviest of heavy machinery will give us a glimpse of what these massive human-built machines are capable of.
Before the last two machines were built, in 1969 “The Big Muskie” owned the show and was considered the largest moving man-made piece of machinery. The Big Muskie could move 39 million pounds of earth every hour. It could uncover coals seams up to 150 feet into the earth’s crust. It could “swing its boom” 600 feet across the landscape. It remained in full-production until 1991, when it was shut down. It was later scrapped and only its enormous metal bucket still remains as a roadside attraction in Reinersville, Ohio.
An even more impressive illustration of what these man-made machines can do is depicted in looking at the largest man-made holes in the world. The diamond mine in Siberia is 525 meters (1,722 feet) deep, and is 1.25 kilometers in diameter, 0r about 8/10 of a mile.
The red arrow in the picture directly above is pointing to a huge mining truck. It takes the truck over two hours to get from the bottom of the mine to the top.
Although the uses of these pieces of heavy equipment are not as common as the backhoe you see on the side of the road, or the crane next to your work building, they are nonetheless intriguing spectacles for the human eye and mind-with a significant purpose. What makes them even more impressive is the fact that they are built and operated by humans. Without the training of heavy equipment operators, the construction of these machines is useless. And whether it is a backhoe, crane, or the Big Muskie being operated, the credentials to operate must be the same: professional training and education, in-class and on-site instruction, certification and licensing, safety, and standards. This is the NAHETS (www.nahets.com) vision; and although you will not find the bagger 288 at NAHETS training schools, you will find the above credentials. This is our mission-to provide society with the “heaviest” of the heavy equipment operators.