Heavy Equipment technology is evolving every year, and new inventions bring many tectonic shifts in our daily lives. If you are a construction or mining business owner or an equipment operator, you could not have missed the evolution of heavy equipment over the years. Now, the heavy equipment industry is on the cusp of major change, with technological advancement happening at a staggering pace.
In the 2020s, with the coming of world-defining technologies like electric vehicles, autonomous and remote driving, artificial intelligence, etc., all the heavy equipment manufacturers are in a ‘tech-arms-race’ to create products infused with the newest and most advanced technologies. In this article, we explore some of the significant upcoming technologies that will have an impact on the construction and mining businesses across the world.
What are the objectives of new technologies in heavy equipment?
Innovation and technology serve to improve the overall output of heavy equipment. The new and upcoming heavy equipment technology trends serve to maximize the return on investment of any machinery by bringing new technologies that target solving key business problems by enhancing certain systems. At a very high leHvel, technologies can be bucketed into the following groups based on their primary objective.
- Technologies to increase productivity and accuracy
- Technologies to reduce costs and downtime
- Technologies to enhance human safety and comfort
- Technologies to automate
- Technologies to minimise our carbon footprint
Drive Train Innovation
Equipment drive trains and power delivery systems were the most competitive of the technologies that helped manufacturers stand out from their competition. The changes in drive train technology are continuous, with ongoing incremental changes that help improve the speed, fuel efficiency, and operational effectiveness of all equipment.
Some key improvements in the drive train technology include the introduction of the ECM (Engine Control Module) in the 2000s, programmed output in the 2010s, etc., With these innovations, the heavy equipment of today can easily shift from “ECO” mode to “POWER” mode, quickly change gears with minimal shift lag, brake efficiently with regenerative capabilities, and deliver high power over shorter periods of time. All these gradual changes in technology have added billions of hours of additional productivity and are the most defining technological changes of all those defined in this list.
In the 2020s, we can continue to expect engines and drive trains to become more efficient through close control of the components using control modules. You will find that your power train will get smoother, cooler, and easier to maintain. In fact, you can check out the various engines in our equipment page.
New Materials & Fluids
We have had many new alloys and fluids that have come to dominate the heavy equipment manufacturing and design. The new materials and fluids have enabled engineers to develop more efficient and reliable powertrain components, such as engine blocks, fuel injectors, turbochargers, and transmission components, while also enhancing the performance of the engine. In addition to these, new materials are bringing down the weight of machines while ensuring that there is no loss to the core properties of structural components.
With the advent of new age fluids, operating heavy equipment has become smoother and less polluting than they have ever been. High-grade engine, transmission, and hydraulic oils are now standard on all the equipment in the industry. We will continue to see this influx of newer and newer materials and fluids change how heavy equipments have traditionally operated.
Many times, heavy equipment that are maintained improperly fail or break down within low hours. Hence, it is always advisable to maintain heavy equipment as per the prescribed maintenance interval. However, sometimes, a heavy equipment breaks down for unforeseeable reasons, including engine seizure, transmission failure, etc., which were unpredictable with earlier technology.
With technological advances in the last two decades and the introduction of data models, we can now predict component failure by studying hundreds of markers such as contaminants in engine oil, engine idling temperature, transmission oil viscosity change, and so on. In real life, predictive diagnostics have helped equipment owners save a lot of money by keeping them from having to pay a lot of money to repair expensive parts.
Intentional Ergonomic Design
Comfortable cabins with digital displays and easy-access maintenance doors are new additions focused on making life wonderful for the operator. Also, studies have shown that a comfortable seating position, cabin temperature control, and operator supporting designs multiply operator effectiveness and overall productivity by several multiples. Keeping operators comfortable turns out to be more profitable for companies, and hence, new machines always come with updated ergonomics. The latest additions include in-cabin music systems with smart speakers, 360-degree displays, and augmented vision for difficult to visualise work.
Machine vision and productivity guides
Two decades ago, machine operators had always depended on manual markers to carry out earthmoving activity. There was a reliance on site employees (including engineering and mining surveyors) to be present at all times to check and track the amount of earth moved. The new technologies made available today include screen-based guides that allow operators to run their machines at the right angles, remove the right amount of payload, create the right incline when laying concrete, dig to the right depth for narrow foundations, and many others. In the 2020s, AI with better vision capabilities will likely be a common technology and help hasten innovation in this area.
Telematics: connected machines
In large construction and mining projects, project managers and site engineers always had a hard time tracking their fleet of heavy equipment and their state of health and maintenance. Now, in the age of the Internet of Things, all advanced equipments come with a telematics device to help track numerous parameters of each individual piece of equipment.
Telematics allows for geotagging or locating equipment through GPS. Telematics also allows for remotely monitoring the heavy equipment’s operating hours, driver behaviour, fuel consumption, movement patterns, and many others. Some manufacturers offer advanced capabilities, including remote on/off/operate switches, geofencing, that help ensure the safety of machines. Heavy equipment these days supply a constant stream of information that is stored in the cloud and made available for necessary action by maintenance engineers. This technology has provided a direct vision for manufacturers to also study the real-time working patterns of numerous compoenents and helps them control for quality and develop better equipment in the future.
Wearable technology is known for being very helpful and informative. It’s also highly efficient, and it can prevent accidents or even deaths on any construction site. After all, there are many slip and fall accidents on most construction sites, some even leading to deaths or paralysis. Which is why using wearable tech can be a very good idea.
There are plenty of wearable solutions that can help improve safety and prevent injuries. Using power gloves can help boost strength and dexterity, while also preventing a variety of injuries. Smart hard hats can also be used as a way to detect any microsleeps. Then we have smart boots which can help detect whenever a worker is at risk.
Adding sensors in regular construction equipment is a great idea, because it can help identify any threats or problems before they arise. It can help immensely, especially when it comes to the more complex workspaces. It makes it easier to capture and analyze data, then eliminate any issues or mishaps before they happen. Doing that can help immensely, and in the end that’s exactly the thing to keep in mind.
But construction equipment with sensors won’t stop only to this. Things like smartwatches, smart goggles or smart monitors can help as well. Already there are cases where smart wearable goggles are used to remotely diagnose and rectify problems in equipment. They can enable contact tracing, assess fatigue levels and also provide advice while working too. It can easily be added to exoskeletons and many other similar tools. That’s why construction equipment technology is very important, because it can improve safety while also eliminating many concerns.
Power suits and exoskeletons
One of the issues that construction workers frequently face is the need to carry or lift extremely heavy items. That becomes an issue and can lead to various health ailments, including back pain and other serious health side effects. The way you can solve this is with power suits. These can make 100 pounds feel like 5 pounds, mainly because they remove all the strain, while offering a simpler way to handle challenging tasks.
The construction industry’s future is focused on safety and increased productivity, so having this type of construction equipment technology does help a lot. It also allows construction companies to better fall in line with the newer health and safety regulations. Furthermore, it encourages people to enter the industry because they know it is well-paying and that they can stay safe even when dealing with more difficult products.
AR is becoming a major player in many industries, thanks to its incredible benefits and ease of use. The construction industry can also benefit from augmented reality. Some of the use cases include offering safety information, visualising modifications in real time before committing to actually making them, and so on.
You can also use AR as a way to automate measurements without involving any expensive tools. Since AR can be used on a variety of different devices, it conveys incredible benefits and portability that would be hard to achieve otherwise.
AR has the potential to be integrated into many construction and mining tasks, and having the ability to pre-visualise something before starting work on it can be a game changer. If anything, it can help prevent costly mistakes, while allowing experimentation before finding the ideal solution.
There’s no denying that construction sites can be very dangerous to work on. That’s why using drones to assess safety, but also reach zones that can be hazardous is a very good idea. Drones are great because they can help with security surveillance, equipment tracking and site scouting too.
On top of that, a drone can help create topographic maps, which are crucial, especially during the pre-project phase. You can also monitor the efficiency of workers with them and in some cases, it’s even possible to carry items as well. Some larger drones can be used to quickly send equipment or various materials to workers, thus boosting productivity and saving a significant amount of time. There’s no denying that using drones is very helpful, it can provide extraordinary efficiency, and the benefits are among the best out there. You can check out the drones with the latest technology with many companies including Superior Instrument, Komatsu, etc.,
One of the crucial aspects to consider in the world of construction equipment technology is electric-powered equipment. Fuel based vehicles can run out of fuel quickly, and they generate a lot of noise. Electric vehicles are easy to charge, versatile, and they are also known for generating less noise. Having better and more reliable construction equipment can make a difference, and it will also speed up the production process.
The best part is that there are a variety of construction vehicles that have electric options. So you can easily access the results you want, without having to worry about any possible issues or challenges. It helps very nicely, and the benefits are among some of the best on the market. That’s what makes it such a unique solution to focus on. While it will take time to implement these technologies in every construction workspace, the current progress is promising.
Remote machines: operating machines remotely
One of the challenges that the industry faces right now is very strict deadlines. That’s definitely an issue, mainly because it forces employees to work overtime, and the quality of the work can suffer due to overworking. With that in mind, many companies are working on autonomous machines that will help speed up the construction process.
The idea of having equipment that can work without an operator, or with a remote operator. It’s very helpful, and this can also be used for the more dangerous construction and mining tasks. It is much safer to use autonomous machines to complete tasks that would otherwise result in injuries or damage to personnel.
On top of that, these autonomous machines would also help provide construction workers with everything that they need. It’s a great solution that helps eliminate dead times in construction, while also making sre that workers don’t have to go back and forth. Instead, they have the autonomous machines do the,ṣxxxxx.,,k monotonous, repetitive tasks so they can focus on the more important aspects. Using remote machinery like this can really help a lot, not to mention it saves time and effort.
Autonomous Equipment and Utility based Robots
Robots are important because they help with tasks which would be overwhelming for a regular person. On top of that, they can be used as remote machinery for dangerous tasks, thus eliminating any risk of injury or death. You can have robots used as fully autonomous machines, but also as collaborative tools to help automate certain construction tasks.
It’s a very good way to boost productivity, while also enhancing the process and making it as comprehensive as possible. Robots can also be customized and pre-programmed just for a specific construction task. We believe this is a trend that will continue to grow, and it will be even easier than ever to use construction robots for any construction task.
There’s no denying that heavy equipment technology is going to advance more and more in the years to come. We are firm believers that technologies like remote machinery, telematics, are set to revolutionize construction sites. On top of that, new construction equipment technology will help increase safety, while also removing any possible issues or problems that can sometimes arise.
One thing is certain, it will take some trial and error to enhance these technologies, but the benefits can be incredible in the long term. Even the simplest technologies can help improve how construction equipment works and what results it can deliver. That’s why we are very excited about the future of construction equipment, especially after seeing all these trends and technologies coming in within the next few years!