Heavy equipment, also known as heavy machinery, refers to heavy-duty vehicles that are specifically built to complete construction activities, most often earthwork operations or other major construction projects. Implementation, traction, structure, power train, control, and information are the five equipment systems used in most heavy equipment.
Heavy equipment has a long history; in his treatise De architectura, the ancient Roman engineer Vitruvius (1st century BCE) described heavy equipment and cranes in ancient Rome.
Around 1500, the pile driver was invented. Marc Isambard Brunel invented the first tunneling shield in 1818.
Heavy equipment works by multiplying the ratio of input force added to force exerted, allowing tasks that would otherwise take hundreds of people and weeks of labor to be completed in a fraction of the time. Hydraulic drives are used as the primary source of motion in certain machines.
Heavy machines were drawn by human or animal strength until the late 19th century and early 20th century. With the introduction of portable steam-powered engines, drawn machine precursors, such as the combine harvester, were redesigned to accommodate the new engines.
The core tractor architecture developed around the new steam power source into a new machine core traction engine that can be equipped as a steam tractor or a steamroller.