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What is construction machinery?

Construction machinery entails all machinery used for activities in construction, ranging from soil excavation to the transportation, loading, and unloading of materials and waste management. The use of these machines generally depends on the characteristics of the engineering work to be done, considering the terrain at hand, the characteristics of the structure to be built, the weight of the materials, and so on.

What are the main characteristics of construction machinery?

Regardless of their type or use, all vehicles considered construction machinery have a number of features in common, such as:

  • Carrying out processes of excavation, demolition, remodeling, transportation, or land preparation.
  • Enduring the conditions to which they are subjected to perform an operation in construction.
  • Having traction systems as part of their running mechanisms for maneuvering on unstable terrain.
  • Having caterpillar-style tires or treads.

Every machine used in construction must also:

  • Be operated by someone with the required authorization to use the work machines and equipment.
  • Comply with maintenance and upkeep requirements for machines.
  • Follow the measures for use, handling, and safety indicated for each type of machine.
  • Monitor the use of vehicles in the work area.

How are construction machines classified?

Construction machinery can be classified according to its ability:

  1. Heavy machinery: vehicles of large proportions and weight. The operator using it must have special accreditation for the specific use of this type of machine. It is intended for large earthworks, whether open spaces or tunnels; it is also commonly used for deep excavations and setting foundations, dredging, or drilling.
  2. Semi-heavy machinery: these vehicles are of medium proportions compared to the previous category. Some machines match heavy machinery in name and function but are simply adapted to a smaller scale.
  3. Light machinery: this category includes construction equipment of small dimensions with very specific functions.

Construction machinery can also be classified according to its use:

  • Demolition: such as a wrecking ball or jackhammer.
  • Hauling materials: these are mostly trucks designed for heavy loads, with the capacity to carry tons of materials. Dump trucks, bins, and concrete mixers are just a few examples.
  • Excavation: used to make ditches, land extensions, canals, tunnels etc. Excavators, skid steer loaders, backhoes, tunnel boring machines, trenchers, and draglines are some examples.
  • Ground preparation: steamrollers or motor graders, for instance.
  • Moving materials: such as tower cranes or truck cranes.

What is the outlook for sustainability in construction machinery?

The construction sector consumes more than 30% of the energy used in human activities, emitting one-fifth of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. Efficient construction machines are necessary to meet the carbon neutrality commitment for the year 2050. To do this, we need to:

  • Improve the materials used for building machinery, making them lighter and less thick so that they consume less energy.
  • Reduce the use of fossil fuel while still ensuring a stable, reliable, sufficient power supply. Biofuel, lithium-ion batteries, and electricity are some sustainable alternatives.
  • Reduce toxic emissions generated by construction machinery.
  • Recycle any surpluses in the manufacturing and use of the machines so that already manufactured parts can be reused.
  • Optimize the machine’s use to carry out more tasks in the shortest possible time, which means saving on the energy used.

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