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Quality Digest

Innovation

Get Smarter About Electric Construction Equipment

Electric power is replacing diesel and hydraulics in construction industry

Published: Wednesday, November 9, 2022 - 11:59

(CONEXPO-CON/AGG: Milwaukee) -- Sustainability in the construction industry is being advanced by the public and private sectors. Governments are adopting more clean-air regulations at local and regional levels, and companies are adopting sustainability policies and asking partners to help them meet their targets.

Consequently, many manufacturers have already developed—or are in the process of developing—electric-powered construction equipment to meet increasing emissions regulations, provide efficiency improvements and lower operating costs. All electric, electric/hydraulic, and battery-operated versions rival their diesel and gas counterparts in performance, notes Joel Honeyman, vice president of Global Innovation at Bobcat.

The changing industry

“People say electric machines are not going to perform as well as a diesel machine,” Honeyman observes. “That is simply not true. In many cases they can outperform them.”

“Many people are so used to what they have and are afraid of new technology. Some companies have been running diesel- and gas-powered equipment for 40, 50 years. Hydraulics have been on equipment for 80 years. Adjusting to an electric-powered machine is quite a paradigm shift.”

The future

“We see electric-powered technologies and their applications spilling into our industry,” says Honeyman. “Look at what is happening in the auto industry. Tesla has really driven the battery electric concept and an entire industry is shifting.”

Green construction technology is only getting better and smarter with new machine and equipment applications and opportunities, he adds.

Among the many advantages of electrification, says Honeyman, are “noise and vibration reduction, instantaneous power, and software features that are otherwise unavailable with a diesel engine and hydraulics.”

Sagaser adds that “the software features allow us to advance and accelerate the technology. We are doing it in a way that is more efficient and cost-effective, and beyond expectations from a power perspective. Overall, our electric innovations allow us to offer customers an experience they may not have previously imagined.

“We could have very easily removed the diesel engine and replaced it with a battery. Instead, our innovation team, which leads this project, wanted to see what other advantages we could achieve if we made it all electric and removed the hydraulics as well. That opened up a lot of possibilities.”

Honeyman, along with Matt Sagaser, director of Innovation Accelerated at Bobcat’s Acceleration Center, will hold an education session—“Electrifying the Future: Get Plugged In”—at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2023.

They will examine the advantages of electric construction equipment beyond just being “green.” They will also discuss what an all-electric platform allows construction equipment manufacturers to do.

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