It’s common to think of consumer gadgets like tablets, smartphones and flat-screen televisions as the pinnacle of our technological achievements. Many of us forget that a lot of the things we take for granted every day, like food, our means of transport and other necessities, are made possible by even greater and more awesome machines. Here are just a few examples of these machines.
Anyone who’s ever wielded an axe to chop wood for the fire will know that it’s no simple task. It’s much easier to go to your local convenience store and buy a pack of neatly pre-packaged firewood. How the once mighty trees make their journey into perfectly packaged bundles of firewood is incredible to watch. The amazing output of the incredible machine you see here is due to its strength – it has a thrust force of 16 metric tons, which is how it makes the splitting of each log appear so buttery smooth.
Coffee Processing Plant
It’s easy to forget about the laborious process that goes into turning the berry of the Coffea plant into the ground material that we brew and serve all around the world. Traditionally the berries were chosen for their ripeness and picked by hand. With such huge demand for coffee today, the berries are strip picked, regardless of their ripeness.
The wet process method shown here is used for making a mild coffee. The flesh of the berry is removed by machine, and the beans are then fermented to remove the layer of mucilage that surrounds them. The beans are passed along to a machine, which rinses them with fresh water, and then dried in long lines in sunlight. Finally the beans are roasted in large industrial roasters, bagged and labeled for distribution.
The Krone Forage Harvester
The Krone forager is used to harvest huge amounts of grain, for the food and biofuel industries. One of the amazing aspects of this machine is its mirror guidance system, which automatically turns the chute that ejects the harvested grain to the desired angle as the driver guides the direction of the vehicle itself. The machine has 14 rows of razor sharp rotating saw blades, which ensure that output is high, loss is minimal and the quality of the chop is high. To put this in context, just 40 years ago the most technologically advanced machine of its kind was using only two rows of blades.
Railway Track Layer
Laying railway is a laborious process even when aided by heavy machinery, but modern railway track layers make it much faster and easier. As you can see in the clip, railway tracks aren’t made of prefabricated stretches and then just laid down. Each rail, pin, nut and bolt is individually fastened by these monstrous machines.
Tunnel Boring Machine
More commonly referred to as a TBM or simply as a “mole”, a tunnel boring machine is used to drill tunnels. It replaces the need for drilling, blasting and hand mining. The benefits of a tunnel boring machine are that it causes minimal damage to the ground around the area that’s excavated and gives the wall of the resulting tunnel a smooth finish. This greatly reduces the cost and time needed to line the tunnel, and makes the machine suitable for use in urban expansion projects. The largest TBM in the world is currently being developed to bore an underground tunnel beneath a river in St. Petersburg. The tunnel is use to be an incredible 42 meters in diameter.