Volvo Construction Equipment’s Lars Arnold, the company’s electromobility product manager, said that environmental requirements common to Europe are picking up steam in North America. He offered as evidence the adoption of clean air policies by state, local and municipal governments, as well as requirements by project owners for reduced or zero emissions.
In response to the rapidly developing emissions requirements, Building Design+Construction has introduced ProCONNECT Sustainability | Wellness | Resilience (Nov 2-3, 2021, 11am to 4:25pm ET).
ProCONNECT Sustainability gives AEC professionals and developers with responsibility for high-performance buildings—chief sustainability officers, directors of sustainability, LEED Fellows, LFAs, WELL APs, resilience directors, net-zero building experts, and other “climate-action champions”—the opportunity to meet one-on-one with top product manufacturers to discuss their firms’ climate-action, wellness, and resilience agendas and discover practical solutions that can enhance their firms’ high-performance projects.
Construction equipment manufacturers and suppliers who would like more information about sponsoring ProCONNECT Sustainability can contact: Rick Blesi, [email protected], 847.954.7931.
Contractors working in these situations, Arnold said, need to prove that they’re working with equipment with reduced or zero emissions. More comments follow below.
How is sustainability affecting construction equipment?
For most contractors who consider the move to electric machines, the biggest challenge is simply a change in mindset for electric equipment. Customers must have an adequate charging infrastructure in place to ensure machines operate as planned. Although a 110-volt set up will charge the units over time, a 240-volt setup is necessary to charge the machines quickly.
And for remote job sites, a solar array may be necessary to provide power when an electric grid isn’t an option.
How do the electric machines compare with diesel machines?
With diesel construction equipment, operating time is defined by the engine run hours, and a lot of those hours are counted while the machine is at idle. With electric machines, as soon as the operator stops working (for example, waiting for pipe to be placed in a trench he’s just dug), the electric motors turn off within a short time period. During this time, no operating hours are being accumulated. So over time, jobs can rack up 10,000 hours on a diesel machine where they might only add 6,000 or 7,000 hours to a comparable electric machine.
How do justify the higher purchase price for an electric machine?
Many of the early adopters aren’t concerned with the cost to be one of the first to use electric machines to explore new business opportunities. For many, they’re looking to potentially make the switch over time so their equipment better aligns with their core values — care for the environment, as an example.
Currently, the cost of electric machines is higher compared with diesel-powered machines, but there are also significant savings to consider in regard to maintenance. That will change as more contractors come on board and make electric machines more commonplace in the construction market.
But electric machines will accumulate fewer hours than diesel machines, there are no costs associated with engine maintenance, and they could help contractors as sustainability requirements start being incorporated into RFPs. It’s about more than just purchase price.
What will the future of machine charging look like?
In addition to solar arrays and other sustainable methods to maintain a power grid for remote charging, apps will also be developed that show operators the state of charge (SOC) of their machine. From a mobile phone, both owners and operators could check the machine’s location and the SOC, and fleet managers will have the ability to monitor machines remotely to ensure daily productivity goals are met.
As we explore new solutions for machine charging, one potential concept is to have a DC rapid charger, which would charge the machine within a very short period of time.