What is an industrial mech?
An industrial mech is a mecha that is designed for non-military applications and is made of non-military grade materials. Unlike traditional battlemechs, industrial mechs seldom if ever use fusion engine for power. Most use either internal combustion engines running on locally produced fuels, or hydrogen fuel cells. This type of power system is more bulky, heavier, and gives the industrial mech a limited operation time. In more advanced settings, a Generator Truck can provide umbilical power supplies for industrial mecha to reduce the usage of fuel. A Generator Truck is little more than a self propelled large fusion engine with power hook ups. Industrial mechs do not have armor in the same context of battlemechs. Those not involved in potentially dangerous occupations have commercial plating that can range from thick plastic panelling, to cast iron panels. Those involved in dangerous occupations are more expensive and have enviromental sealing, and roll hardened metal plating. This is generally to protect the machine and operator from accidents.
Force multiplier versus Cattlemasters
The CattleMaster is a canon industrial mech that is used for cattle ranching. I found this as ridiculous as the Harvester Ant, a combine with legs that looks like an ant. I found this concept ridiculous because the image of a mech chasing cattle is as silly as spending millions of dollars on a mech that is useful one or two weeks per year. The role of the battlemech is to project firepower onto the battle field, and engage and destroy the enemy. Also, by sheer size, the mech exists to intimidate the enemy and deter him from attacking. To this end, battlemechs are large, powerful, and sometimes inefficient in their operation. The industrial mech exists as a Force multiplier. Industrial equipment is intended to be effective and efficient in operation, so where a need for a combine exists, there will be conditions for a traditional wheeled combine and there is no need for a more expensive and complex mech. The mech is no more effective at harvesting wheat than its wheeled counterpart. For a mech to be used to do a job, it will need to be the most efficient method of completing a task. If a simpler machine, a less expensive machine, can do the same task just as well, a mech isnt going to be used.
Battletech has released some industrial mechs in the Technical Read-out series. I have issues with many of them, as almost every one of them has been put into combat roles. In many instances it was obvious to me that the mechs were intended to be second class and have junk weapons bolted to them. The industrial mech is no more a war machine than a bulldozer is a tank without a turret.
Why is this a single submission?
It would be possible to write up each and every one of the entrants below as a submission, but they are more a class. There are not going to be famous industrial mechs, or notable industrial mech pilots any more than there are iconic delivery trucks, or world famous fork-lift drivers. In a futuristic setting, these machines are going to be common, as easily overlooked at farm tractors, and road construction equipment is today.
Various programs such as Swamp Loggers, Ax-Men, and things like Modern Marvels, Mining equipment, and Heavy Metal equipment. The biggest inspiration besides wanting to do better than canon material are the original industral mechs, the Constructicons!
1. SCR-1 'Scrapper'
The Scrapper is a very common type of industrial mech. It's primary function is that of a walking front end loader. Unlike the vehicle, the Scrapper is able to operate in smaller areas, and due to it's height and more nimble controls, it can do things with a bucket of loose material that a regular front end loader can only dream of. Most Scrappers work out of pre-established work yards such as massive concrete production facilities, or goods holding areas. Those that work in the field are usually involved in surface or strip mining, or in major construction plans. There are few things that a Scrapper operator cannot either push out of the way or dig up with its big bucket.
2. SCR-1L Woodchuck
A variant of the traditional Scrapper, the Woodchuck is used in handling large cylindrical objects, replacing the bucket with a pair of large gripper claws. These claws are good for handling things such as cut trees, construction materials like culverts, girders, poles and the like. Woodchucks are drastically less common the Scrappers. There are advanced model Scrappers that have quick release systems that allow them to swap the bucket assembly for gripper claws.
3. HK-100 'Hook'
The Hook is a walking crane. Most mecha will attempt to manhandle objects with their large cumbersome hand actuators, which can lead to dents, scratches, and all sorts of unintentional damage. The Hook has an over the shoulder hoist type crane that uses a large hook to lift heavy objects. When the hoist is deployed, the mech is generally immobilized to maintain stability. When the term 'loadermech' is tossed about, it is usually in regards to machines like the Hook and it's kin.
4. HK-2000 'Hook II'
Three times the size of the traditional Hook mech, the Hook II has a telescopic crane as well as a traditional hoist crane. These mechs are used in major construction or recovery operations as their lifting power is significantly more than the traditional Hook. The Hook II and mecha like it can be found in wartime situations where its lifting potential makes it valuable as a battlemech recovery vehicle. These military Hook IIs are generally sporting a pair of defensive machine guns, mostly for the benefit of the operator's morale.
5. HK-3000 'Hermit Crab'
The Hermit Crab is a quad industrial mech, standing on four legs instead of two. The mech sacrifices the finer control of having assisting arms for the greater stability of four legs. The biggest of the 'loadermech' family, the Hermit Crab has multiple hoists for complex and delicate lifts, as well as a single large Level Luffing Crane. The design of this type of crane allows the operator better perspective of what he is doing while moving some impressive loads. Most Hermit Crabs are employed in shipyards where they put their lifting power to working on dropships and other large craft.
6. BNC-1R 'Bonecrusher'
The Bonecrusher is an imtimidating looking machine for something never intended to wade into combat. It is of heavy build and unlike the other mecha thus far, sports industrial grade plating rather than consmetic body paneling. The main implement of the Bonecrusher mech is a large metal blade. Like a bulldozer, the Bonecrusher uses this thick metal blade to push things into piles. Unlike a bulldozer, the Bonecrusher can turn the blade in interesting positions, using it to pry rocks apart, swing it to hack through trees and debris, or simply batter things down with it. This is the source of the mech's name, riding in it is a bonecrushing experience. The mech is armored so that it stands a better chance of surviving if the operator does something stupid with the blade. Many Bonecrusher pilots think they can take their mechs into combat, a premise that usually leaves the Bonecrusher a smoldering wreck. Industrial grade armor and a big metal bar are not a match for conventional mech armor and even basic weaponry.
7. BNC-2R 'Ripper'
Frequently used by stubborn agriculturalists and terraformers, the Ripper is a modified Bonecrusher that has a slightly reduced blade and a multi-pronged tool called a ripper. With ferro-carbine teeth, the ripper is a giant metal 'rake' that can be used to break up volcanic rock, and other obstinate materials. Terraformers use it to render terrain ready to receive seeding. Rippers can also be used for demolition and removal of things like abandoned roads, concrete tarmacs and other materials tha benefit from being broken up and pushed into piles before being removed. A single Ripper, a Scrapper, and a group of heavy load dump trucks can dig a hole like a man couldnt believe.
8. SVR-99 'Scavenger'
The Scavenger is a hybrid between the Scrapper and the Hook. The mech has a large boom type arm assembly which terminates in a large bucket. Scavengers are primarily employed in mining in difficult locations, such as on small bodies in space, or areas where a traditional tread style excavator cannot feasibly be deployed. Scavengers can can also be used for river dredging, as well as in digging holes for construction or fortifications. The Scavenger is an impressively large mech and in the right hands can out dig a squad of excavators. The Scavenger is often times used as a recovery vehicle, but this is rare as the mech is slow moving even by industrial mech standards.
9. LGH-7L 'Long Haul'
An uncommon industrial mech, the Long Haul is a quad mech that is little more than a storage bin with legs. The Long Haul's job is usually done (better) by conventional dump trucks. In places where wheeled or tracked vehicles arent able to go, Long Haul type mechs are used to deliver materials, or remove them as the case may be. Variants of the Long Haul are common, and include so called 'Tour bus' models with passenger capacity, to specialized container vehicles, to armored ammunition transports. These ammo carriers are sometimes refered to coffins with legs. Aside from space operations, the most common use of this mech is in underwater operations.
10. MXM-4500 'Mixmaster'
Concrete has been known since the time of the Roman Empire. The Mixmaster is the culmination of millenia of concrete handling and technology. The Mixmaster can carry as much as 40 tons of concrete to de deployed trough either a pumping system or via a gravity chute. Unlike traditional vehicle mixers, the Mixmaster can be deployed with its concrete still dry, the water or alternate liquid agent held in a secondary tank. The mech no longer has to run against a timer to deploy its cargo before it solidifies inside the drum. The most impressive use of a MixMaster involved urban fighting, where a Mixmaster pilot engaged an enemy 'Stalker' type assault mech in close combat. While the Stalker was dealing with overheating issues, the MixMaster was able to cover the enemy mech with liquid concrete. This fouled the sensor systems as well as clogging a heat sink array. While the MixMaster suffered what would later be catastrophic damage, it walked away while the Stalker would be removed weeks later with explosives and Bonecrushers.
11. UCV-1 Urban Construction Vehicle
The UCV is a non-specialized industrial mech. Functionally it is an unarmed mech that has manipulative hands and little else. The UCV can use a variety of mech sized hand tools, and specialized attachments. A UCV with a blade is going to be less effective than a fully equiped Bonecrusher, however. UCVs are used commonly for search and rescue operations, and disaster relief efforts. A UCV can remove rubble, rescue trapped people, or use its hands to build levees to stop floods and other other operations of the like. Modified UCVs are used for hazardous materials handling, or paired with responder vehicles. It can do many jobs, but it does not excel at many of them. This is a very common design.
12. VLN-2 Vulcan
This mech bears no resemblance to the urban combat mech of the same name. This Vulcan was designed to work in the hellish environment of an industrial foundry. With thick armor plating and a robust cooling system, the Vulcan can all but wade through liquid steel. The mech is designed to handle the laddles of liquid metal, load melt vessels and service equipment in temperatures that would quickly harm an unprotected person. Vulcans are squat machines with broad claw like hand actuators and large cooling stacks on the rear of the machine.
Additional Ideas (3)
The Curie is a modified Vulcan whose shielding is designed primarily to protect from radiation. It is designed for cleanup of irradiated areas or handling of radioactive materials. Often provided with remote operation capabilities. This variant uses a hydrogen fuel cell for power. The entire outer surface of the mech can be jettisoned, as the shielding invariably becomes somewhat radioactive itself after extended use.
14. HLW-2 Hullwalker
Based on the UCV-1, this mech has been built for operations outside of larger spacecraft, performing repairs and renovations. Equipment modifications include a thruster pack, electromagnetic feet and high quality life support system.
15. LSM-40 Longshoreman
Where the Scrapper is a walking front-end-loader, the LSM-40 is a walking forklift. Each arm ends in actuators which can handle pallet-sized loads. Both arms together function to lift standard cargo containers up to 4 high.
These mechs typically are equipped with either battery or fuelcell powersupplies, as ICE engines in the confined areas they commonly work are quite dangerous.
Yay! A Curie mech!
The Seacrab is a rare industrial use mach, seen only on water type worlds. The hulking mech moves with a series of small support legs and almost comically, a pair of propellers. One of the main uses of water type worlds is large scale aquaculture, growing edible seaweeds and such. The seacrab is an underwater tractor mech used for the planting, maintenance and harvesting of this food material
The Seacrab's big brother, the Neptune is a compact mech with articulated arms that can mount a variety of tools, powerful spotlights and unconventionally strong armor for a civilian mech.
Being able to withstand pressures found in sea trenches, the Neptune is used for deep-sea construction, tasks on heavy-G pressure-cooker worlds and scientific exploration. A larger variant holds a crew compartment and/or a small lab in its torso.
The combat use of the Neptune is limited, but its plating has been found to be highly resistant to non-energy weapons; this is compensated by its impractical weight and the mech's sluggish speed.