Although many people assume technologies such as AI, analytics and the Internet of Things are…
One of the biggest advances in heavy equipment technology has not been in inventing something new, it has been in making the existing better. One area that has really seen improvements has been hydraulics. If you were to compare today’s heavy equipment with those of the 30 years ago, the biggest difference would be in how smooth and how fine the controls are now.
Thirty years ago, heavy equipment was cumbersome and awkward. It got the job done but there was a lot of grinding, shuddering and jerking that went on. Operators often climbed out of the cab (if it had one) at the end of the day feeling like they had been in huge vibration machine all day – in fact, they had.
Improvements to hydraulics have been huge. Using variable displacement pumps and closed center directional control valves, heavy equipment now runs smoothly. The vibrations have virtually disappeared, the shuddering and jerking replaced by smooth seamless movements. Operators now have the ability to operate their equipment to such fine degrees of measurement they can pick up an egg without breaking it or lower their buckets in fine increments so they are just touching the egg, again, without breaking it. This was impossible 30 years ago where ‘fine’ increments were measure in inches – several of them, not just one.
The benefits to an operator are immense. At the end of the day they don’t feel like they have been shaken to pieces. More importantly, they can perform their job with extreme accuracy to the point that other new technologies like laser guidance and GPS can be added. It’s pointless relying on laser guidance which requires accuracy to within fractions of an inch, if the equipment cannot perform to those standards. Today’s equipment can and does. Of course, that means heavy equipment training has changed and now focuses on using this new technology.
Being a heavy equipment operator is now one of the fine skills and brings with it a lot of job satisfaction. New heavy equipment technology, along with the improvements to existing technology, leads to better productivity – that’s a win-win for everyone involved in heavy equipment.