Meet the Bagger 288 Excavator, the world’s largest and heaviest land vehicle. The Bagger 288 is a monstrous bucket-wheel excavator, built for stripping enormous open-pit coal mines in Germany.
The 288 has an enormous 70-foot wheel containing 20 buckets, each scooping 530 cubic feet. These massive buckets can scoop up 12 tons of material a second, the equivalent of 10 midsize cars. The 288 can output 8.48 million cubic feet of material a day, enough to fill 96 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
The excavator itself is 705 feet long, two football fields, and 311 feet tall, 30-story building, and weighs 45,500 tons, to give some perspective, Titanic’s weight was 46,328 tons. The colossal machine sits on 12 enormous crawlers, 49 feet in length and 12 feet wide. When the Bagger 288 was moved to a neighboring mine 14 miles away, the trip took 3 weeks at a whopping 1/3 mph, 70 workers and cost $10 million dollars. The move is so expensive because roads need to completely rebuilt as the tremendous weight crushes cement and anything else in the excavator’s path. The trip was considered cheaper than disassembling the 288 and reassembling in the new mine.
The Bagger 288 took 5 years to design and manufacture, another 5 years to assemble, costing over 100 million to build.
Operating the 288
Three shifts a day, 5 people per shift, keep the Bagger 288 continuously mining coal. The excavator uses a conveyor system, miles in length, to move the mined coal as this is much faster and more economical than trucks. The 288 uses 17,000 kilowatts of power from the same power plants it supplies coal to.
The 288 has over a 1/2 mile of walkways, requiring the team members to walk over 6 miles each shift. The bucket-wheel is so massive that the operator has a very constricted viewing angle. The 288 has even mistakenly scooped up a large bulldozer without breaking stride.
The Bagger 288 has been featured in several movies and video games including; Ghost Rider, The Hunger Games, Call of Duty, and Modern Warfare 3.