The Reality Behind Volvo’s High Reach Excavator

The Reality Behind Volvo’s High Reach Excavator

October 12, 2010

Having spent the best part of a quarter century writing about construction and demolition equipment for a paper (or dead tree in online parlance) publication, I have grown accustomed to my words being greeted with a deathly silence. There have been times when I have literally gone years without receiving feedback from a single reader.

Thankfully, the Internet has changed all that. By removing the reliance upon snail mail, the Internet has at last allowed writers like myself to actively interact with readers like never before. It has also provided us with a huge increase in geographic reach, our words now being spread to the four corners of the globe.

The reason I mention this is that this interaction and huge geographic spread combined recently with impressive if slightly unnerving effect.

I had innocently written about a new zero-tailswing, high reach demolition excavator brought to the market by a joint venture between Volvo Construction Equipment’s UK operation, and a leading local excavator modifier, Kocurek Excavators Ltd.

In that piece, I pointed out that the machine was the first of its kind. Turns out, such claims are a little like waving a red rag at a bull and insulting his mother at the same time. The office broadband connection quickly went into meltdown, quickly followed by the inbound telephone line, with industry experts and pundits pointing out that there have, in fact, been several zero-tailswing, high reach machines in the past.

All true, but none of these were equipped with a Kocurek Modular Joint that allows the entire boom arrangement to be switched between high reach and standard excavator configuration in under an hour. Furthermore, none of the previous machines featured a tilting cab, nor did they boast the ability of the modified Volvo ECR305Cl to carry a 2.5 tonne attachment to a height of 21 metres.

With the input of Volvo Construction Equipment GB’s national accounts manager Phil Jones, we eventually satisfied the various interested parties that this new machine was, in fact, unique as we had claimed. We patted ourselves on the back on delivering a much talked about scoop and were about to retire to the nearest bar when the broadband connection here and at Volvo’s UK headquarters began to glow ominously.

First word filtered down to would-be customers across the US and Europe for this unique machine, prompting them to contact their local Volvo dealer who in turn contacted Volvo GB to find out precisely why the Brits had apparently been given exclusive access to an all-new machine.

As a result, Phil Jones spent the best part of a week fielding calls from way beyond his sales territory while we compounded the problem by diverting any calls that we received to Jones’ cellphone.

So, is the machine worth all that fuss? At first glance, perhaps the biggest complement I can pay the machine is that it doesn’t look like it’s been modified in any way. The clean lines and smooth aesthetics look like they’ve rolled straight off the Volvo production line and into the market with ne’er a stopover at Kocurek’s Ipswich manufacturing facility.

The dozer blade and unmodified undercarriage look reassuringly Swedish, as does the cab, even though the latter now tilts a full 30 degrees to provide greater visibility to the 2.5 tonne held 21 metres aloft by a four-piece boom. The cab protection package, which includes armoured glass and steel guarding, also looks like a Volvo original. Kocurek has even disguised part of the counterweight to look like a toolbox to retain the functional Swedish aesthetic.

In fact, the only truly visible Kocurek contribution to the machine is the one that sets it apart from previous attempts at zero tailswing, high reach capabilities: a Modular Joint. According to Volvo and Kocurek, this addition allows users to switch between the 21 metre high reach front end and a straight or banana boom for low-level demolition or traditional earthmoving duties in around 30 minutes.

“The machine has been produced with the UK market in mind as work sites here can be very confined, particularly in places like London, Birmingham and Manchester,” Jones says. “Demolition companies operating on such restricted sites not only need the zero tailswing capability; they’re also looking to tackle a multitude of tasks with a single machine. That is precisely what Kocurek’s Modular Joint allows them to do.”

To view a video of the machine and Phil Jones’ reasoning behind its creation, please visit: