Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) have spent a lot of time with the design and development of their new compact electric machines. When some people think about electric-powered construction equipment, they tend to jump to the conclusion that it will be inferior to a diesel machine in some way — mainly power. But we can assure you that’s not the case at all.
In fact, in addition to maintaining (or in some instances exceeding) the power of diesel models, electric construction equipment offers just as many advantages as the diesel counterparts. Check out the benefits of electric construction equipment.
Volvo electric and diesel machine specs are nearly identical
When it comes to power and performance, Volvo’s ECR25 electric excavator and L25 electric wheel loader are nearly identical to their diesel counterparts — almost line for line, every diesel model spec applies to the electric models. The few exceptions are a slight increase in continuous motor power and a marginally higher operating weight for the ECR25 electric excavator. And for the L25 electric wheel loader, it too has a marginally higher operating weight and a higher static tipping load compared to the diesel model.
The maximum speed of the electric L25 wheel loader is set at 16 kph. The good news is that for most applications, high speed isn’t required. It’s mainly necessary if you have an application where you need to drive from jobsite to jobsite without hauling the machine.
Electric Construction Equipment Less noise and vibration
Reductions in noise and vibration are the result of the diesel engine and cooling fan no longer present. In Volvo’s pilot programs, they heard how less fatigued operators felt after several hours of work as they noticed the difference of the smooth, quiet operation of electric construction equipment.
Just how much quieter are the electric machines compared to their diesel counterparts? On the ECR25 electric excavator, for example, exterior noise levels were reduced from 93 dB to 84 dB. If that doesn’t seem like a lot, then consider that a 10-decibel increase is perceived as twice as loud, and it represents a tenfold increase in sound intensity. By reducing the noise by 9 decibels, Volvo have created an electric-powered construction machine that will sound two times quieter.
Potential lower operating costs
With diesel construction equipment, operating time is defined by the engine runtime, and a lot of those hours are counted while the machine is idle. With electric, as soon as the operator stops working (e.g. a landscaper waiting for pipe to be placed in a trench he’s just dug), the motors turn off and no operating hours are accumulated. So when you think about it, jobs over time that can rack up 10,000 hours on a diesel machine might only add 6,000 or 7,000 hours to a comparable electric machine. These saved hours can essentially lower operating costs, and in turn lower total cost of ownership.
Customise settings with an improved human machine interface.
All of Volvo’s machines come well equipped with functions that allow you to customise settings tailored to your preferences, however Volvo’s electric equipment boasts an improved Human Machine Interface (HMI) and software, allowing more opportunities to adjust settings and customise the behaviour of the machine to an operator’s personal preferences. Adjustments can be thoroughly customised as how the machine performs — it can be more aggressive to more normal to a very sensitive, smooth ramp up of the hydraulics. HMI improvements are a reason for operators love the performance and feel of electric machines.
Reduced Maintenance Costs
With electric, there’s no engine-related maintenance. Essentially, the only services required for a tech working on Volvo electric machines is grease, the hydraulic oil, and in the case of the L25, coolant for the water-cooled inverters and drivetrain.
The state-of-the-art lithium-ion batteries and electric motors are totally maintenance-free. The lifetime of the battery-electric components should be equal to or better than the diesel engine on a conventional machine.
While electric Volvo CE is not currently available in Australia, electric construction equipment is certainly the way of the future and there is no doubt there are benefits of this exciting technology.