The Evolution of the Heavy Equipment Industry


Heavy construction equipment has come a long way. Today, there are many kinds of equipment with various general and specialized functions used to erect buildings and earthwork operations. All of these modern machines are upgraded and improved versions of their predecessors. Read on to learn more about the evolution of the heavy equipment industry. 

Steam-Powered Equipment for Agriculture

During the 1800s, the invention of the steam engine paved the way for the rise of construction equipment. Back then, they are used in the agricultural industry to make large-scale jobs more efficient. This led to the transition from manual and animal labor to the use of more powerful machines.

Benjamin Leroy Holt, an American inventor, created a steam harvester in 1886 and a steam engine tractor in 1890. In 1992, John Froelich manufactured a gasoline-powered tractor with forward and reverse gears. These inventions are widely accepted as the pioneers of heavy equipment as we know them today.

The Second Industrial Revolution

In the 1900s, the Second Industrial Revolution created a huge demand for heavy machinery to be used in different industries. The first track vehicle was invented by Alvin Orlando Lombard in 1991. This metal track technology revolutionized military vehicles and predecessor of modern tracked construction equipment today.

The use of heavy equipment for the construction industry also emerged during this era:

  • In 1907, a company called Galion Iron Works started manufacturing graders, rollers, scrapers, and cranes. 
  • In the 1920s, bulldozers were invented. They quickly grew into popularity and are used for hauling boulders and pulling tree stumps from the earth.

The Great Depression and the World War II

The heavy equipment industry hit a snag during the Great Depression in the 1930s. Manufacturers were forced to sell parts and equipment to cope with the economic crisis. On the bright side, heavy machines are used to build notable landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA.

Things started to get better for the industry in the aftermath of World War II. More construction opportunities were available as families leave congested cities and transfer to the suburbs. In the 1950s, the heavy equipment market boomed as the construction of the Interstate Highway System started. This era also saw the emergence of monster-size machines and safety operation standards.

Contemporary Era: The Rise of Efficient Machines

Today, construction equipment manufacturers continue to invent more efficient and specialized machines. This came in the form of telematics, electro-mobility, autonomous machinery, and the Internet of Things (IoT). These improvements also involve fuel efficiency and reducing carbon emissions to lessen the negative environmental impacts of heavy equipment.

Today, equipment rental has also grown in popularity instead of buying or owning heavy machines. Rental companies like Rabern Rentals offer a wide range of updated and well-maintained equipment perfect for any construction venture. For more information about our inventory, contact us today!