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Technology

Monster Mining Machines: The Bucket Wheel Excavator

Candy Lebby
by Candy Lebby on October 2, 2018

Have you ever wondered how we’re able to get hold of raw materials such as clay, hard coal, gravel or even sand? It’s a huge task to undertake as you can probably imagine. It needs someone or something to move huge amounts of earth and overburden, in order to draw out the raw materials that lay deep beneath the surface.

Scrap that, there's no way one of us would be able to unearth raw materials at the kinds of depths we’re talking about here. These semi-hard materials would pretty much be impossible to access without the help of an enormous piece of technology. That's where the epic bucket wheel excavator comes in. This earthmoving monster is a very impressive piece of technology indeed! 

Bucket wheel excavators have been mining open-cast pits for around a century, with some of the first models being manufactured in the 1920’s. In their heyday, they would have been seen as being at the height of construction innovation!

"These amazing machines were used quite a bit in previous years"

To refer to these machines are merely ‘large’ is an understatement of biblical proportions. In fact, the biggest bucket wheel excavator, the Bagger 293 is recognised in the Guinness Book of World Records to be the largest land vehicle in the world! Built by German company Takraf, the excavator is 96 meters tall and a whopping 225 meters long.

Mining Construction Technology Innovation Bobtrade [Photo Credit: Wonderful Engineering]

"They can be quite the productive taskmaster" 

This vehicle is so big that it needs 5 people just to manoeuvre it and it has the amazing ability to move over 8.5 million cubic feet of earth per day. It is able to complete this feat using a large 70-foot rotating wheel which sits at the end of a very long arm. The best thing about all of this? It does it all so effortlessly. 

The sheer persistence these vehicles wield is nothing short of fascinating.They can be quite the productive taskmaster and have the ability to dig relentlessly, for long periods of time. These vehicles are extraordinarily efficient and are the most reliable alternatives to the previously used rope shovels and draglines.

You might think that bucket wheel  excavators are only used in large-scale mining projects for raw materials, but they have also been used in big construction projects too. 

Mining Bucket-Wheel Excavator Construction Technology Innovation Bobtrade [Photo Credit: Reddit

"The sheer persistence these vehicles wield is nothing short of fascinating"

There also isn't only one kind of bucket wheel excavator, but they do have typical features which they all share. Like the fact that every bucket wheel excavator ever built, will always have a two-crawler mechanism, a bucket wheel with buckets, a C-frame like construction, and a counterweight below the discharge boom. 

So, you have your garden variety monstrosities and then you have compact excavators which are used on mines with short benches and irregular often harsh operating conditions. The larger excavators work better on flat mines where there are regular mineral deposits and large benches.

Mining Bucket-Wheel Excavator Construction Technology Innovation Bobtrade [Photo Credit: ABC]

Though these amazing machines were used quite a bit in previous years, they aren’t in high demand anymore. This is partly because the original models were built to last forever, enduring continuous heavy use.

These aren’t the kind of machines that you find breaking down every week, so it makes sense that they aren’t manufactured as much anymore. Instead many of the models currently out there are refurbished and maintained, so they never die. 

"In their heyday, they would have been seen as being at the height of construction innovation!"

These days, the use of bucket wheel excavators is mainly focused on brown coal mining which happens during the production of electricity in parts of Germany and the East and Southeastern parts of Europe.

Mining Bucket-Wheel Excavator Construction Technology Innovation Bobtrade [Photo Credit: European Greens

Wow, what an incredible machine. We loved talking about this remarkable piece of construction technology! If you enjoyed reading about this monster mining machine you should check out our other article on another piece of amazing technology Guardian GT, and the one we did on robotic fish SoFi

Tags: Technology

AUTHOR
Candy Lebby

Candy Lebby

Content Writer Executive at Bobtrade , relishes in learning about the innovative technology in the construction industry , mama to my beautiful 4 year old, Benjamin, blogger and video games enthusiast.!