How has the invention of machine and power tools changed how construction projects are delivered?
Construction is one of the oldest industries there is and has been around as long as humans. From the earliest shelters to the skyscrapers of today, building has been crucial to human evolution. However, the way that construction projects are managed, and the speed at which they move, as not always been the same. One of the key influencers in terms of construction project development has been the availability and use of machine and power tools.
The first machine and power tools
Although it was hand powered, the lathe is often viewed as the first example of a power tool that changed the way that the construction industry progressed. After that, it wasn’t until the early industrial revolution that power tools began to be widely used – these were often driven by belts from overhead shafts and used a power source, such as water or steam. These early power tools predominantly influenced the speed and efficiency of construction, allowing more processing to be achieved with less human effort. However, they were not portable like the power tools that are widely used today.
The impact of electricity
In the 1880s, power tools began to be created with an electric motor and this was a game changer for the construction sector. These advanced tools could now be self powered, without the need for a water wheel or steam engine to provide a power source. As they were self powered they were also portable and much simpler to use, making them available to a far wider section of the construction workforce. The first ever electric power tool was thought to be invented in 1865 when German engineering company C&E Fein created the first electric drill by combining a manual drill with the power of an electric motor.
How machine and power tools changed construction
- Speedier completion. Machines take half the time, or less, to complete certain tasks than when these are carried out by humans alone. So, the use of machine and power tools enabled significant reduction in construction project timescales.
- Reduced workforce. Given the increased efficiency of power tools in completing elements of the construction process, this reduced the size of the workforce required for projects and also enabled costs to be minimised.
- Improved health and safety. With power tools and machines came the potential for more accidents and injuries and so, as a result, health and safety on sites became an increased priority.
- Greater effectiveness. Machines and power tools are simply more effective in construction than humans can be – for example, with power tools, larger screws can be driven into tougher materials.
- Streamlining the industry. The use of machines and power tools provided a way to streamline construction, reduce disruption and enable projects to be delivered cleanly and predictably.
Power tools and machines may only have been integrated into construction since the 19th and 20th centuries but they have had a huge influence over progress. At The RG Group we are always looking at ways to make construction projects more successful and streamlined – contact us to find out more.