There are many spectacular sights that you will experience in your life. You have to travel far and wide for some of them, like pristine rain forests and majestic waterfalls. Some are just right in front of you. There are movies and TV shows that are so expertly crafted that you cannot help but let your jaws drop. The best ones have the best cinematography and the most compelling stories and mixing both results in an awe-inspiring time. But then there are people who crave a different kind of eye candy.
Those in the construction world are always eager to see some of the most intimidating pieces of equipment around. The beginning of a project presents interesting visuals, most notably the groundbreaking. This is where a plot of land has to be turned back into basically a blank slate so a new foundation can be laid. If you have ever worked with a concrete building contractor, a part of the process is the breaking and digging of the ground and preparing the framework on where the large concrete slabs will be laid on. These will form the base of the structure that will be built on it.
During the ground-breaking process, the heavy equipment is necessary to make work of the soil or road they are standing on. They are amazing machines capable of breaking down huge boulders in minutes. When you see a construction site, see if there are some of these in action, for they need to be seen to be believed.
Excavators are machines that have an arm contraption that is attached to their front. The two types that are used for pounding on the Earth are usually the wheeled and the crawler types. The first one basically moves similarly like a car. It is smaller than a crawler and features four wheels. It moves in a linear fashion and is ideal to be used on breaking down concrete or asphalt roads. Its turning ability is limited as it is totally dependent on how it is being steered on the road.
The crawler type of excavator has a chain track instead of wheels for its mobility. Unlike the wheeled type, its cockpit can independently rotate just like how a tank can with its cannon. This hulking machine can be dropped in the middle of a landfill and just start doing its job there. Thanks to its pivoting arm, it has a 360-degree reach if it wants to lay waste on the ground below it.
What makes excavators even more badass are their removable attachments. These serve as their “hand” replacement. You can put in different types of contraptions depending on what you need. For thrusting down on the ground, you can count on the auger attachment to do that job well. You can describe this as a bigger version of the jackhammer, only thing is it is being driven by the mechanical arm of the machine. As if that is not enough, there is an attachment even bigger that does the same thing called the breaker. This could probably knock down giant abandoned buildings by itself.
While it is not really in the ground-breaking business, the plate compactor is the equipment that helps add some refinements to the job. Once the lot has been prepared for laying the foundation, it is filled up with coarse material like gravel. Since these are basically irregularly-shaped rocks, they would naturally introduce a lot of air pockets underneath. This is where the plate compactor comes in. A person operates the machine and just lets it rip over the gravel-filled land. The aim is to flatten it and minimize the air gaps. It is fun to see a rough surface slowly being smoothed out by one person using the compactor.
Filling a floor area with a heterogeneous mixture of wet cement and gravel can be grueling. When that is poured over, it creates a lot of air pockets. You do not want your mixture to dry up like this, because these hollow spaces will compromise its durability. Those pockets have to be removed so you can end up with a solid foundation that should withstand even strong earthquakes.
This is where the concrete vibrator comes in. At first glance, this looks like a machine that has uses a hose with a metalhead at its head. It works by dipping the head into the mixture and letting it shake the mixture, and then slowly pulling it out. As you do that, you will see that the gravel and wet cement sink, and this will result in a more flat-looking surface. This is your sign that the air pockets are gone, and you have to move on to the next area.
Jackhammers are rough and noisy. Seeing them in action makes you think that they could easily get out of control at your hands. But in the hands of the right people, it is like seeing an artist at work or man taming a beast. You would have to have enough muscle to hold that thing in place and at the same time guiding it to where it is supposed to break ground.
There is fun to be had in watching even industrial machines doing their work. Without them, construction projects would take ages to finish. Take time to appreciate these beauties along with their operators, for they also fill the world with awesome-looking structures.