What is Heavy Equipment?

Sherry Holetzky

Heavy-duty vehicles and large pieces of machinery are generally referred to as heavy equipment. This term encompasses civil engineering vehicles, utility vehicles from construction equipment to agricultural and forestry implements, and equipment used for heavy hauling, such as railroad cars, semi trucks, trailers, and dump trucks. A piece of heavy equipment is generally designed specifically for one purpose, although some implements may be used in more than one capacity. Most uses hydraulic components, and today’s designs are becoming even more refined with advances in technology such as sophisticated electronics. Many modern heavy equipment implements rely on computers to function, and they are maintained using computers that test working parts and report specific problems.

Tractors are one example of heavy equipment.
Tractors are one example of heavy equipment.

The use of heavy equipment varies in different applications, from civil engineering or infrastructure and military, to other heavy construction developments as well as agricultural and forestry projects. Military equipment includes everything from tanks to aircraft carriers, while civil engineering applications use implements from large cranes to much smaller tools such as jackhammers. Infrastructure projects often include highway repair and maintenance, bridges and overpasses, and projects such as interstate bypasses.

Combine harvesters are an example of heavy equipment.
Combine harvesters are an example of heavy equipment.

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Heavy construction generally refers to building playgrounds or parks and large buildings such as office complexes or shopping centers. Backhoes, bulldozers, and other earth moving equipment are frequently used to break ground, while cranes are often used to place large beams and framing elements. Agricultural interests include farming, which uses heavy equipment such as tractors, combines, harvesters, and balers. Landscaping may be included in both agricultural and forestry categories, utilizing equipment such as log splitters, tillers, mowers, chippers, and stump pullers.

A railroad locomotive is an example of a piece of "heavy equipment".
A railroad locomotive is an example of a piece of "heavy equipment".

While advances in technology may make heavy equipment more functional and reliable, they also make caring for individual pieces far more complicated. Sophisticated technology has created a specialized field when it comes to heavy equipment troubleshooting, repair, and maintenance. Few of the people that own or lease these implements can work on them any more. Repairs from the simple to the extensive, and even routine maintenance, must often be provided by specially trained mechanics and technicians.

Semi trucks are heavy equipment.
Semi trucks are heavy equipment.
Bulldozers are heavy equipment often used in road construction.
Bulldozers are heavy equipment often used in road construction.
Semi trucks are heavy equipment.
Semi trucks are heavy equipment.
Heavy military equipment includes tanks.
Heavy military equipment includes tanks.
Aircraft carriers are an example of heavy military equipment.
Aircraft carriers are an example of heavy military equipment.
Railroad rolling stock, such as the tank cars that are used to transport liquefied natural gas, are one type of heavy equipment.
Railroad rolling stock, such as the tank cars that are used to transport liquefied natural gas, are one type of heavy equipment.
Heavy construction can include building playgrounds.
Heavy construction can include building playgrounds.
Cranes are a type of heavy equipment.
Cranes are a type of heavy equipment.

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