We are in the midst of electrifying everything. So it’s no surprise that construction equipment is a part of this revolution too.
When construction equipment started going electric, OEMs first developed hybrid models. So most electric models used today are electric and hydraulic. The lithium-ion battery replaces the diesel engine, so it powers the electric motor and conventional hydraulics.
“From a technological standpoint, electric-powered compact equipment was one of the easiest to go after,” said Chris Lucas, product manager for excavators, JCB North America, in an article from Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM).
But now, more companies are expanding with alternatives. One such alternative is Doosan Bobcat’s T7X compact track loader. The hydraulics and engine were removed, and in their place is an electric battery and electrical drive system consisting of electric cylinders and drive motors.
“With an all-electric system, it’s power on demand, only using the energy you need for the task at hand,” said Dave Grabau, key account manager, Moog Construction, a Doosan Bobcat partner on the T7X. “You’re not running at wide open throttle or dumping hydraulic fluid over a relief valve and wasting that energy. The powertrain is not limited by emissions tiers, such as 55 kW (74 horsepower).”
The Best Way to Charge Electric Construction Equipment
Currently in production, the T7X has a power range of 100 to 150 horsepower. The first completed bobcats were delivered to Sunbelt Rental in Sacramento, California, on September 29.
But how do you charge the equipment? Temporary job site equipment must be easily chargeable without a lot of preparation requirements.
It would be counterintuitive to charge it with a diesel generator. As a result, JCB developed a universal fast charger, designed to charge Sunbelt Rental’s fleet of E-Tech machines.
Also Beam Global has partnered with Volvo to bundle Beam’s ARC system to use for electric equipment at Volvo dealerships.
As for cost of using electric construction equipment, JCB did a return-on-investment study that showed a 50% ROI within three to five years, Lucas said. “There are no maintenance costs with electric machines,” he added. “All you’re doing is charging the machine and filling up the hydraulic fluids.”
In the end, the best way to eliminate diesel and fully adopt electric construction equipment is have it become economically viable.
Ray Gallant, vice president of product management and productivity for Volvo Construction Equipment, “Widespread adoption of electric equipment starts when it becomes economically viable. But everyone seems to be willing to see where it develops, and that’s encouraging.”