We are all used to seeing modern day hydraulic excavators with their heated cabs, advanced power and amazing versatility. These advances in excavation technology are a direct result of the pioneers who had to come up with a way to dig more dirt, faster. Excavation technology has existed in primitive ways since the building of the pyramids in Egypt, however we are going to focus on the early hydraulic excavators for this article. Excavators have come a long way in the last 140 years, when the realization that hydraulic force was the most efficient force multiplier.

The very first excavator to use hydraulic technology was built in 1882 by Sir W.G. Armstrong & Company in England. Unlike modern excavators that use hydraulic fluid, this excavator used simple water to operate hydraulic functions. It also wasn’t a true hydraulic machine, it still used cables to operate the bucket with a hydraulic cylinder operating a set of multiplying sheaves. It was an improvement on previous technology, but ultimately was not successful as it was limited to the strength of the cables.

The first all-hydraulic excavator used four direct-acting steam cylinders, with no cables or chains. It was called the Direct Acting excavator built by the Kilgore Machine Company in 1897. This machine had several advantages over the chain and bucket system. First it was built almost entirely out of steel, making it much sturdier under heavy loads. Also, the end of each cylinder’s stroke was cushioned, eliminating shock damage when working at high-speeds.

The use of steam cylinders for all bucket functions gave the digging arm a range of motion unlike any shovel before it. It could move up, down and laterally with equal power; giving it the ability to move boulders and other obstructions much easier than other shovels. The elimination of chains, cables, sheaves, friction clutches and gears made it a very simple design with few working parts. The four cylinders were controlled by two levers, the bucket instantly duplicating the operators hand motions on the levers. The Direct Acting excavator changed the industry and several companies began designing their own hydraulic excavators to compete.

Hyundai Togun, the construction division of Hyundai, was established by the company founder (Chung ju-Yung) in 1947. By 1950 it was renamed Hyundai Construction and Engineering Co. The 1940’s and 50’s were a period of intense growth for Hyundai, with demand for their machines increasing worldwide. Hyundai was the US Army’s primary contractor for the entire Korean War, as wells as for many post-war construction projects.

Modern Hyundai excavators have taken the ideas formed by early construction pioneers and transformed them into a line of powerful machines that set the standard for the rest of the industry. Excavators have come a long way in the last 140 years, but the premise will always remain the same. How do we move more material faster? Hyundai excavators are designed specifically to tackle the toughest jobs in the construction, mining and forestry industries. If you want to learn more about Hyundai Excavators, contact one of our construction equipment experts today!