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Supplier debuts electric-powered prototypes

Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) showcased concepts and innovative designs at its Xploration Forum in Eskilstuna, Sweden, from 9 September to 14 September.

An electric site research project that the company predicts could reduce the quarry and aggregates industry’s carbon emissions by up to 95 per cent and total cost of ownership by up to 25 per cent was showcased in front of customers, press, government representatives and academics.

The initiative – a SEK203 million ($AUD30.45 million) collaboration with Skanska Sweden, the Swedish Energy Agency and two Swedish universities – aimed to electrify transport in a quarry from excavation to primary crushing and secondary crushing.

The project, which started in October 2015 and is due to be completed in 2018, also involved developing new electric-powered machines, work methods and site management systems.

Technical specialist in site automation at Volvo CE Johan Sjöberg said the project was a step towards transforming the quarrying and aggregates industry.

“By using electricity instead of diesel to power construction equipment in a quarry we have the potential to deliver significant reductions in fuel consumption, CO2 emissions, environmental impact and cost per tonne,” he said.

“The electrification of construction equipment will produce cleaner, quieter and more efficient machines – this represents the future of our industry.”

Futuristic prototypes

New equipment unveiled at the forum included a prototype electric hybrid wheel loader known as the LX1. The machine is said to deliver up to a 50 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency as well as offering significant emissions and noise pollution reductions.

The unit features electric drive motors mounted at the wheels, electric hydraulics, an energy storage system as well as a significantly smaller diesel engine. Its almost completely new design features 98 per cent original parts.

Automation was a key theme of the event, as shown by the debut of the HX1 – an autonomous, battery-powered load carrier.

Volvo CE also gave a demonstration of a prototype autonomous wheel loader, the L120, filling a prototype articulated hauler, the A25F, which then dumped the material along a pre-defined route.

During a comparison with conventional equipment at the event, over the course of an hour it was found the L120 – which has already carried out commercial work at a Swedish asphalt plant – could reach the equivalent of 70 per cent of the loading and unloading productivity levels of a skilled operator.

“Autonomous machines will increase safety in hazardous working environments and eliminate the possibility of accidents caused by human error,” director of emerging technologies at Volvo CE Jenny Elfsberg commented.

“They will also perform repetitive tasks more efficiently and precisely than a human operator and, because machines will be operated in the most efficient way, customers will benefit from improved performance, productivity, fuel efficiency and durability.”

Triple Zero and 10x

It is not the first autonomous innovation revealed by the Volvo Group this year; in May it also demonstrated a self-driving haul truck.

Volvo CE has set itself four technology challenges that have been called “Triple Zero and 10x” — namely, zero emissions, zero accidents, zero unplanned stops and 10 times higher efficiency.

President of the company Martin Weissburg said: “Although this technology may be years away from – or may never enter – production, it will undoubtedly influence our future offering and has the potential to transform the construction industry as we know it.

“The progress our engineers are making is exciting.”


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