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Caterpillar says that the Australian market has been “very receptive” to the 336E H since its introduction in 2013.
Caterpillar says that the Australian market has been “very receptive” to the 336E H since its introduction in 2013.

Global experts endorse hybrid technology

Experts from a global construction and mining equipment manufacturing company recently convened in Melbourne for a panel discussion on how hybrid technology has changed the heavy construction industry.

The panel, organised by Caterpillar Global Construction and Infrastructure, was held on 14 August at Cat dealer William Adams in Melbourne.

It featured a range of experts including the Caterpillar Asia Pacific general manager of sales and marketing Phillip Pollock, Caterpillar global construction and infrastructure manager for Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Ranil Tennakoon and Caterpillar excavator product application specialist Kit Kyaarsgard.

In addition to hearing from the experts on the history of hybrid technology in Australia, the current state of the hybrid industry and what lies ahead in its future, attendees were given an up close and personal look at Caterpillar’s Cat 336E H hybrid excavator at the William Adams facility.

Attendees were given an up close and personal look at the Cat 336E H hybrid excavator at the William Adams dealership.
Attendees were given an up close and personal look at the Cat 336E H hybrid excavator at the William Adams dealership.

LOWER OWNERSHIP COSTS Hybrid technology would appear to be a positive step towards a more environmentally friendly and sustainable heavy construction sector but it has been argued that the ownership costs outweigh the benefits, presenting a barrier to greater uptake within the industry. However, Pollock told Quarry that Caterpillar had been able to overcome this challenge.

He stated that while other hybrid solutions incorporated a large number of electronic components, which could be complex and costly to repair, the 336E H was able to conserve fuel, optimise performance and reuse energy.

According to Pollock, this last point was what really set Caterpillar’s hybrid solution apart from competitors. “The Cat 336E H hybrid excavator uses regenerative braking to store kinetic energy hydraulically,” he explained.

He said the company decided to develop hybrid machinery within the 30- to 50-tonne range first to allow customers in the quarry industry to maximise their savings and return on investment.

“The great part about Caterpillar’s hybrid solution is that it’s designed using the building blocks of the basic excavator, so
we can use a portion of these blocks or the complete package – whichever delivers the best return to the customer,” Pollock explained.

He added that the Australian market has been “very receptive” to the 336E H since its introduction in 2013.

“Australian customers like the simple design and that it is built off of the proven 336E base machine,” Pollock said, “but more importantly, they like its benefits, such as the tangible fuel consumption savings and its ability to lower their owning and operating costs.”

Kit Kyaarsgard explained that the 336E H’s three major components were the hydraulic hybrid swing system, an adaptive control system (ACS) valve and an electronic standardised programmable (ESP) pump.

The hydraulic hybrid swing system captures the excavator’s upper structure swing brake energy in accumulators and then reuses the energy during swing acceleration while the ACS valve optimises performance by intelligently managing restrictions and flows to control machine motion.

“The ACS electronically controls all the hydraulic fluid that goes throughout that valve, so it knows exactly that with boom down, it can reuse that oil because there’s a lot of pressure,” Kyaarsgard said. “With all that weight pushing that down, we can reuse it and put it in the top of the boom or switch to the six-cylinder or wherever its taking that fluid and re-route it so it’s not wasting that energy.”

The ESP pump is designed to smoothly transition between the hydraulic hybrid power sources, engine and accumulator to conserve fuel. “The ESP pump automatically knows to turn on and how much to turn off to maximise that power for performance,” Kyaarsgard added.

As a result, he said the 336E H provides a major point of difference to Caterpillar’s competitors. “In most hybrid excavators in the market place, the swing is the only place where you save fuel,” Kyaarsgard stated. “With ours, you save fuel in all these three main components. We reduce the revolutions per minute (rpm) to our engines. Lower rpm we burn less fuel and put less emissions into the air. Using the ESP pump, you are also reducing the load on the engine as much as possible.

“With our 336E H hybrid, you get up to 50 per cent greater fuel efficiency and burn up to 25 per cent less fuel. It’s a fully recyclable, quieter operation, with a lower fuel consumption and reduced carbon footprint.”

He also stated that subject to the working environment and other operational factors, customers could make their return on investment in as little as two years.

CUSTOMER FEEDBACK Since its arrival on the Australian market 12 months ago, 336E H hybrids have worked on operations in Victoria and Tasmania. One of William Adams’ first sales was to SB Groves Earthmoving Pty Ltd and more recently to Lima South Quarry, in Victoria’s northeast.

The 336E H purchased by SB Groves Earthmoving worked at Tasmanian Mines’ Kara magnetite pit, near Burnie, for over 500 hours, feeding a mobile crusher. The hybrid performed to all expectations, averaging a fuel burn of 20 litres per hour, compared to a previous Cat 336D excavator that averaged five to eight litres more per hour.

At the panel discussion, Lima South Quarry’s sales and account manager Brendan Tipple reported similar results between his operation’s 336E H and 336D excavators.

“We had a 336D up on the face of the quarry, doing quarry face work, so heavy ripping and loading of haul trucks to come down the haul road into the crushers,” Tipple explained.

“The young operator on the excavator said to me, ‘Look it’s the hardest work the machine will ever do, what’s it’s doing at the moment.’ He came out of the 336D and we put the new 336E H up on the face of the quarry. The fuel that it’s burning averages out to 20.8 litres per hour, whereas the operator felt it was around 30 to 34 litres per hour on the 336D.”

Glen Slocombe, who is William Adams’ sales manager for regional government and specialised industries, reported encouraging results from the four hybrids sold so far. “Already, in the four units we’ve delivered straight away, the fuel benefits that have been advertised have been realised,” he said. “The guys are wanting to buy more to the point where we are actually now leaning towards stocking more hybrids than any other.”

Freelance writer Jon Gibson, who also doubles as a plant and workshop manager to a large civil contracting company, also gave the 336E H the thumbs up.

“With the 336 E, our guys didn’t even realise they were pulling on a switch,” Gibson said. “I think that’s something Caterpillar have done really well. A guy can jump off one machine before smoko and then jump in the hybrid after smoko and they can get straight in it and be productive in it straight away and there is nothing they have to get their head around.

“The hybrid is a massive step in the right direction,” Gibson added. “It’s the biggest thing to happen in excavator manufacturing since the day the first excavator was invented. Basically, this is huge.” 

By Stephanie Chan and Damian Christie

Hong Hui

Friday, 20 September, 2019 10:14pm
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