Big Machine Identified

By Deane Barker on June 18, 2005

A few months ago, I asked people what the machine was in a picture I found on the Net. Many people commented and identified it as an earth-mover of some kind.

However, I got an email from Ian recently that included a somewhat cheesy Power Point Show which included the pictures at right (click for 600-pixel versions) and this text:

This is the largest earth mover in the world built by the German company, Krupp, and seen here crossing a federal highway in Germany en route to its destination (an open-pit coal mine). It is cheaper to move the thing like this, than to construct or reassemble onsite.

  • The mover stands 311 feet tall and 705 feet long.

  • It weighs over 45,500 tons

  • Cost $100 million to build

  • Took 5 years to design and manufacture

  • 5 years to assemble

  • Requires 5 people to operate it

  • The Bucket Wheel is over 70 feet in diameter with 20 buckets, each of which can hold over 530 cubic feet of material.

  • A 6-foot man can stand up inside one of the buckets.

  • It moves on 12 crawlers (each is 12 feet wide, 8’ high and 46 feet long)

  • There are 8 crawlers in front and 4 in back.

  • It has a maximum speed of 1 mile in 3 hours (1/3 mile/hour)

  • It can remove over 76,455 cubic meters each day. (100,000 large dump trucks at 40yds. each)

One hundred thousand dump trucks per day? Wow. I can’t vouch for any of the validity here, but it’s a big machine no matter what figures you slap on it.

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  1. I was going to say I could probably take control of my city with this thing. Then I realized that it only traveled 1/3mph. I would roll over in my sleep faster then that. It’s an awesome machine though. I can’t imagine how many man hours it took to assemble that bad boy. I wonder how many battle ships would need to be melted down to match the amount of metal required to build that thing.

  2. I should have seen your inital post earlier, because those machines (there’s about a dozen of them) work only a few kilometers away from me.

    I haven’t browsed through all the comments, so maybe this is redundant information:

    In Germany, there is an are in the triangle between the city of Aachen in the West (where I live) close to the Dutch and Belgian border, the city of D�sseldorf (in the North) and the city of Cologne (in the South), where the “brown coal” resides very low beneath the surface. So you don’t need to dig shafts and do traditional mining, but you can actually scrape away the earth to get to the coal stratas.

    From an environmental point of view this is of course a desaster – these machines dig huge – and I mean HUGE – holes into the earth: see (I live at the lower left corner of this image). however it still is way cheaper than shaft digging.

    There’s 4-5 coal burning power plants next to the scraping sites which immediately consume the coal to produce energy for the German heavy-industry area.

    The images shown in your post display a transport of one of the diggers from one site to the other – a very slow process a few years ago which got a lot of media attention because rivers had to be moved and roads blocked.

    Very soon, one of the machines will dig away a whole highway – for years to come we have to drive a rather long deviation when we want to go from Aachen to D�sseldorf. Once the machine has gone past this point, the mining comporation has to rebuild the highway.

    Socially it’s a challange too, because whole villages get destroyed and rebuild a few kilometers away.

    The whole thing is way to crazy to understand why anybody came up with it in the first place.

  3. That image is nuts. When you can see something like that from space, it pretty much means you’ve made Mother Earth your b**ch.

  4. I am coming to Germany in August and want to see these things. Can the mines be visited somewhat close? Exactly where are the mines? I see on my map Dusseldorf, Aachen and Koln – is there a smaller town that they are very near? We are flying in to Hannover and that looks pretty close.

  5. Germany is not THAT small – from here to Hannover is still a 3,5 hour ride. You might want to include a visit to Cologne (which is a nice city in its own right and certainly worth a visit) and from there it’s like a 30-45 minute drive.

    I don’t know if there are official tours – they do prearranged tours for sure. I can see if I find some links – just drop me an email at pmk at naklar dot de and I’ll send you some web-ressources.

    Depending on your budget you can go to one of the smaller sport airports. It should be easy to find a pilot willing to take you on a tour with a Cessna and they can fly pretty low over those “wholes”. I can only guess the tariff but I assume something between 100-200 EUR for a one hour flight.

  6. Here’s a link to the same area on Google Maps. I arranged the map so that my hometown is exactly in the lower left corner (I live next to the second “o” in “Google”). On the upper right corner you see the port of Duesseldorf at the river Rhine.

    You may notice the thin line of the highway (the “Autobahn”), which diagonally crosses the image from lower left to upper right. At the topmost scraping site, the Autobahn is only about 20 meters away from the rim – and that’s actually the place where the Autobahn will be disrupted soon because the “mining” goes farther to the west.

  7. But what is the story behind the bulldozer stuck upside down at the top of the machine in the last picture? Is it real? It does look like it, so how on earth did it get there?!!!

  8. The bulldozer was caught by one of the buckets and they used a crane to remove it from the top of the unit. It is a D-8 caterpillar and looked to be nearly new. I got an e-mail that showed about 6 more pictures of the scene. Neat, but I hope that nobody got hurt. (somebody probably got yelled at though!)

  9. That is a very large amount of coal to move. My questions to you are: 1.Who owns the land that is to be mined? 2.Does the Government purchase it off the owners or the Energy Companies who run the Power Stations,or do they just pay for relocation?

    1. Do you get a choice of design for your new home?
    2. Is there any consideration for Historic sites,specially the ancient ones? 4a. Do they have an independent Archaeologist on site? 5.Do they check for ‘Bog” burial sites before ripping the place apart? 6.Is there ongoing compensation or free repair for damage to buildings that are on reclaimed land that resettles after a time? Sorry, just a couple of questions that popped into my mind as I waited for the picture to load .
  10. I don’t think the math is right in what the thing can excavate.

    76,455 cubic meters of earth is equal to 100,000 cubic yards. At 40 cy per truck that’s “only” 2,500 trucks. That’s still a lot because the 40 cy trucks are the big off-road haulers.

  11. I was stationed in Shonigen Germany (pronounced “shernigen”) back in the 80’s We could see part of the coal mine from the main route between Shonigen and BaunSchwiege. Braun Shcwiege is a “college town” on what was then the East / West German Boarder. You could see one of the earthmovers along that route – but that was 20+ years ago, so I don’t know if that would still be the case today… I am sure the mine is still there. Back then it was “billed” as the largest open pit mining operation in the world.

  12. Oh, Steve, this is maybe a bit late for the answers, but here you go:

    Who owns the land? The utility company by the name of “Rheinbraun” owns all the land. If a landowner is not willing to sell, he gets dispossessed (and reimbursed) by a court – the land is then sold to Rheinbraun. Actually as a land owner you stand NO chance not to sell…

    Can you design your own home? Yes, of course. You get money based on what your previous land and home was worth, you get cheap loans and you get special deals. With that, you can build whatever you want.

  13. For those worried about the connection with coal – this machine is used to move material – all types of material, coal, iron ore, earth, and place the material onto a conveyor belt that runs underneath the machine. Its used to MOVE material so it can be used to move and use or move and store elsewhere. Its a BUCKET WHEEL RECLAIMER – not the most sexiest or threatning name however.

  14. The biggest machines have not yet come and I don’t feel it any more operated by humans. When we see 3000 ft above the ground we are still a tiny world with large vacuum. To hell with cars too then. When a city or something like Christchurch is destroyed we still need it 30 years to rebuilt it with human planning and construction. Machines are those when we could built the towns and cities in few months or days, occupying huge spaces on earth as well as on air. Machines are those that could use its arms to carry tonnes of earth or reassemble tonnes of materials like a heap of mountains which could be used on both land and air. That future is not far when cities and town could be build on machines or probably flying machines that could rest on earth’s ground, underground, air or seas instead of concrete, steel and glass. Assembling blocks could be a better bet.

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