Heavy machinery manufacturers are producing all-electric versions of conventional construction vehicles as part of efforts to make construction more environmentally friendly.
Recently, there has been an enhanced push for more environmentally friendly building methods. Heavy electric gear is now entering the ranks of electric cars and public transportation as eco-friendly substitutes.
Electric construction machinery is not a novel idea. All-electric versions of excavators, loaders, forklifts, and other heavy machinery are available to rent or buy worldwide.
Hybrid electric machines have been around for a while. Continue reading to learn more about the advantages of electric construction equipment and the kinds of tools causing a stir in the market.
All Electric vs. Diesel:
Diesel fuel is used in the majority of heavy gear, so if you’ve ever driven by a construction site, you probably saw some of the equipment in action. While diesel-powered construction equipment is still massively prevalent in the U.S., all-electric models are growing more prominent than you might imagine – and they tend to blend right in.
When it comes to overall performance capabilities, all-electric equipment is essentially equal to its diesel version. For instance, Volvo Construction Equipment has stated that the specs of its electric excavators and wheel loaders are identical to those of its diesel counterparts. Their sole distinguishing features are a little heavier operational weight and a somewhat higher continuous motor power for their electric equipment.
The major distinctions between electric and diesel machinery are hidden from view. Rechargeable lithium-ion battery packs are used in an electric equipment in place of a diesel engine and cooling fan. Unlike their diesel equivalents, certain electric machines don’t have hydraulic pumps. For instance, the Volvo CE ECR25 Electric Excavator’s boom is propelled not by hydraulics but by electromechanical linear actuators.
How does Hybrid Electric Equipment work?
Hybrid electric machinery is able to reduce pollutants while still providing the high power density of a diesel engine. It’s perfect for demanding work and low-emissions zones because of its compact diesel engine, battery power, and electric motor.
Even though hybrid drives still consume diesel fuel, the fuel’s wasted heat energy can be captured and put to productive use. This makes for a more compact cooling system and a more effective machine overall. Specifically, the Volvo CE LX1 hybrid 20-ton loader is 50% more efficient than a 25-ton conventional diesel loader.
Benefits of Going Electric:
There are several ways in which construction businesses and the environment can benefit from switching to electric equipment. Here are the top three reasons why heavy electric equipment is superior:
Lower Carbon Emissions:
Electric construction equipment encourages sustainable building practices since it eliminates the need for fossil fuels like gasoline or diesel. The construction industry is responsible for roughly 39% of global CO2 emissions connected to energy and is famously sluggish in adopting greener technologies; thus, this benefit is badly needed.
Lithium-ion batteries power entirely electric machines, doing away with the need for conventional fuels. Businesses operating in low-emission zones need these battery-operated devices.
Less Noise Pollution:
The construction industry faces a significant problem with noise pollution. Construction sites with loud machinery are a nuisance to nearby residents and businesses and pose a health risk to the employees. Exposure to more than 85 dB noise levels continuously for more than eight hours poses special dangers for construction workers.
In contrast to older, diesel-powered models, electric construction equipment is much quieter during work. There is less noise and vibration with electric equipment as no diesel engine or cooling fan is required. This results in decreased risk of injury to construction workers while using machinery and less wear and tear on their bodies after the shift.
Lower Project Costs:
Construction companies can save money in the long run by using electric machinery. All-electric machinery not only saves gasoline money but also has a reduced total cost of ownership due to the shorter amount of time the engine is required to run. Diesel-powered machinery spends a lot of time sitting idle, consuming a lot of fuel. When an electric machine is shut off, no more time is used unless the operator restarts it.
Maintenance costs are also reduced with electric construction machinery. Electric machines have much fewer moving parts than diesel ones, and their lithium-ion batteries and electric motors require almost no upkeep. The time and money needed for repairs and replacement parts are cut down significantly.
Examples of Electric Construction Equipment:
Not all machinery now has an electric equivalent on the market, and the construction sector is sluggish in adopting new technology. However, as time progresses and technology improves, producers slowly release new equipment.
An early example of an electrically powered device, electric excavators, was introduced to the general public. Volvo Construction Equipment (CE) debuted the EX02 compact electric excavator prototype at the 2017 Volvo Group Innovation Summit. Powered by two lithium-ion batteries rather than a conventional internal combustion engine, the EX02 had zero emissions. The machine could work eight hours without needing to be recharged, thanks to its batteries’ 38 kWh of energy.
Volvo CE introduced the ECR25 Electric excavator, replacing the EX02 model that was only a prototype and was never made available for commercial use. The United States and Canada can now place pre-orders for this model, with deliveries beginning in June 2022.
As the demand for fully electric construction equipment rises, more and more manufacturers, including Caterpillar, Bobcat, Doosan, Hyundai CE, and JCB, have produced electric excavators in recent years.
Because wheel loaders exist in numerous sizes and types and are present on most construction sites, equipment manufacturers were fast to produce all-electric variants. Within the past five years, multiple manufacturers, like Volvo CE with its L25 Electric small wheel loader and Wacker Neuson and Schäffer, have introduced their own versions of electric construction equipment.
Powered by two lithium-ion batteries and two hydraulic motors, the Schäffer 24E is billed as the first electric wheel loader to use lithium-ion technology. The machine’s tiny size and lack of noise make it ideal for use in residential locations. The item can be transferred rapidly and easily from one building site to another because of its compact size and lightweight.
Dump Trucks and Mining Trucks:
German automaker Kuhn Schweiz has created a 45-ton electric mining tractor, making it the largest electric vehicle in the world. The Elektro Dumper is a fully electric truck explicitly designed for hauling marlstone without the requirement for a charging station. Downhill braking retains the energy created by the truck’s motion in its 600 kW/hr battery pack.
There are now multiple producers of electric mining trucks, so the Elektro Dumper isn’t the only one out there. For instance, Epiroc manufactures a battery-operated mini truck that is ideal for use in underground mines.
Forklifts are quite tiny compared to other types of heavy gear, therefore, this made it easier for producers to create all-electric versions. Toyota presently provides five electric models, and Cat just introduced four electric forklift trucks to its product line.
As more goods flood the market, competition is heating up for makers of electric forklifts. To keep ahead of the competition, Cat equipped its line of electric lift trucks with built-in service reminders, on-the-go system monitoring, and self-diagnostics technology. Deliveries to North American customers of Greenland Technologies’ new range of electric lithium forklifts will begin in September 2021.
The future is Electric:
In the United States, electric construction equipment is just getting started, but that will certainly alter in the coming few decades. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published Tier 4 in 2004 as the final stage of its method to reduce carbon emissions, mandating near-zero emissions levels for nitrogen oxides and particulate matter from new diesel engines. This stimulated the development of a slew of cutting-edge hybrid machines that were cleaner than their predecessors without sacrificing functionality.
In 2016, the European Union implemented Stage V non-road emissions rules to restrict particulate matter emissions further, whereas the EPA has no plans to release subsequent stages. Many manufacturers are adapting their products in anticipation of possible new regulations as a result of these shifts.
While an all-electric future for the building sector may sound farfetched, it is not completely out of reach. For instance, the auto sector actively promotes the shift to electric automobiles. Several European Union members, notably Norway,, Denmark, and Iceland, have announced their intention to outlaw the sale of gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles by the year 2025.
Construction equipment that runs solely on electricity has already demonstrated its ability to perform at or above that of diesel-powered machinery, but at a lower cost and with fewer emissions. If you need to rent construction machinery soon, consider getting a hybrid or electric forklift, wheel loader, or something else in the category. It can assist you save money on your project and pave the way for a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future in the building industry.