Going electric can deliver the same performance as well as being emissions-free

Major loader manufacturers are launching new electric models and technologies that they say are extending versatility and transforming the industry towards a carbon-free future.
Loading, Hauling & Excavation / June 7, 2023
By Liam McLoughlin
Volvo CE says its new conversion solution for its L120 mid-sized wheeled loaders makes it easy for customers to go electric
Volvo CE says its new conversion solution for its L120 mid-sized wheeled loaders makes it easy for customers to go electric

Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) has launched a solution to convert its L120 mid-sized wheeled loaders to electric.

The solution has been developed in conjunction with partner Parker Hannifin and converted by Volvo Group’s own CE Engineering Solutions. The 20-tonne L120H Electric Conversion will be commercially available for selected customers in Europe during 2023.

Volvo CE states: "Using the market -recognised conventional machine as the base, which will still be offered to customers, the electric conversion model will deliver the same performance with the upside of doing so emission-free."

Volvo CE adds that it is working with CE Engineering Solutions and selected electromobility partners to accelerate the availability of commercialised electric solutions across all segments and applications. This latest collaboration to expand its line of electric wheeled loaders follows Volvo CE’s investment in Dutch manufacturer Limach, announced in June 2023, to broaden the company’s electric excavator portfolio.

LiuGong's 856H-E MAX wheeled loader on show at CONEXPO/CON-AGG 2023
LiuGong's 856H-E MAX wheeled loader on show at CONEXPO/CON-AGG 2023

The manufacturer says this partnership approach, which allows for speedier implementation to the market, happens in parallel with the company’s continued development of more electric solutions – like the EC230 Electric, a 23-tonne battery -electric excavator, built on Volvo CE’s own technology. It adds both approaches are needed if the industry as a whole is expected to reach carbon-reduction targets, like Volvo CE has set out in its commitment to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 – with significant emission reductions as early as 2030 – as part of the Science Based Targets initiative.

Carl Slotte, head of sales region Europe at Volvo CE, comments: “There is no time to wait – we need to deliver solutions that allow our customers to achieve their decarbonisation goals. Change starts here. Our commitment to partnership allows us to take a leading position in transforming our industry, with electric solutions that are built to fulfil market demand and tailored to suit the changing needs of our customers.”

The L120H Electric Conversion will be available this year for selected customers in Europe. Volvo CE says it delivers the same powerful performance as its diesel counterpart, but with zero exhaust emissions and near-silent operation. These benefits combine to offer enhanced comfort for both the operator and those working near the machine.

Powered by 240 kWh batteries, it provides a runtime of approximately five hours in most medium-duty applications. Consistent with Volvo’s existing charging solutions, it is estimated to charge from 0-100% in just 1.5-2 hours.

The L120H Electric Conversion offers the following features as standard: Comfort Drive Control, Load Assist with On-Board Weighing plus radar detection with the new Collision Mitigation System. In addition, the L120H Electric Conversion will be supported by dedicated electromobility applications which allow the operator to check battery and charging status and to preheat the cab.

Volvo CE says that, depending on market demand, it brings the possibility to convert existing customers’ L120H wheeled loaders to electric in the future.

Volvo CE has also announced an investment into battery-pack production at its excavator plant in Changwon, South Korea, again signalling its ambition to drive industry transformation with sustainable solutions.

With the SEK80m (around US$7.8m) investment from Volvo Group, a new production facility and equipment will be built at the Changwon plant in South Korea – which at around 1.1m2 , is the largest excavator production site in Volvo CE, producing around 55% of its total excavator volumes.

The new facility at the Changwon plant will produce a wide range of common electric storage solutions (battery packs) for Volvo Group and become a core competence centre for electric excavators. This will enable Volvo Group to offer more sustainable solutions to its APAC markets in a more flexible, cost-effective and agile way and include supply chain, manufacturing and logistics.

Volvo CE’s new EC500 excavator delivers high performance
Volvo CE’s new EC500 excavator delivers high performance

Andy Knight, head of operations excavator and managing director of Volvo Group Korea, says: “As the largest plant in Volvo CE and the core site for excavator development and production, Changwon is at the forefront of our shift to a sustainable future.

“This investment is an important milestone in our electrification roadmap and supports our recent investments in production facilities for electric excavators. Changwon is ideally located close to battery module supply partners and other key suppliers in South Korea to meet the needs of customers in the future. We are also home to a highly skilled and motivated workforce who are fully committed to meeting our future environmental targets.”

The new production facility will be built inside the current component workshop at Changwon – without disruption to the existing operation. Once complete, the facility will be approximately 2,500m2 , including assembly and logistics areas. The building work will begin in April 2023, with battery-pack production expected to commence in June 2024.

Coming soon after an announcement to invest in the production of electric wheeled loaders at its plant in Arvika, Sweden, and electric haulers from the company’s production facility in Braås, Sweden, Volvo CE says this is another sign of its commitment to becoming completely fossil-free by 2040 – in line with the Paris Agreement and as laid out in its Science Based Target goals.

Volvo CE has already successfully introduced compact electric excavators to the global market with the ECR25 Electric, ECR18 Electric, EC18 Electric and the mid-size EC230 electric excavators.

LiuGong North America has sold it first battery-electric vehicle in the United States. The Chinese manufacturer says the new 21-tonne 856H-E MAX wheeled loader is part of its worldwide range of electric construction vehicles. Powering the machine is a 432kWh large-capacity lithium-ion phosphate battery from renowned battery manufacturer CATL.

The 856H-E MAX is capable of 10 hours of working time for light applications and eight hours for heavy applications. It also features an Intelligent Battery Management System that can be fast charged in 90 minutes.

"The industry is talking about battery -electric vehicles at a greater volume than in years past," said Andrew Ryan, president of LiuGong North America.

"LiuGong is the world's largest manufacturer of wheeled loaders, so it makes sense for our company to lead the industry in the adoption and application of battery technology."

The 856H-E MAX has already proven its reliability in the field, with more than 2,000 electric wheeled loaders operating in the world's toughest conditions as of October 2022, and exponential growth is expected. Its reliability is reinforced by the IP67-rated wiring harness and waterproof integrated battery package. All of that is backed by a standard five-year or 10,000-hour battery, motor, and controller warranty.

Komatsu has launched its SubMonitor system for wheeled loaders
Komatsu has launched its SubMonitor system for wheeled loaders

LiuGong says the 856H-E MAX thrives in work sites where traditional combustion engines aren't allowed or fixed-site operations where investments in charging infrastructure make sense.

In addition to making work easier, the wheeled loader's new electric technologies are also environmentally conscious while offering a competitive cost of ownership. The 856H-E MAX consumes zero fuel, produces zero emissions, and significantly lowers noise and vibration levels.

The 856H-E MAX features intelligent controls and a human-centric design for a claimed superior operator experience. This includes load-sensing hydraulics, an EAT700 transmission with an electro-proportional valve for fast, smooth shifting, and independent control of the dual-motor drive for maximum hydraulic lift.

The LiuGong Intelligent Auto Digging System automatically cycles repetitive digging to reduce operator fatigue. Its electric control box also improves transmission efficiency compared to conventional machines.

In the non-electric, heavy-excavator sector Volvo CE says that its powerful new EC500 model has been designed to deliver high-performance outputs as well as superior levels of safety in use.

Replacing the EC480E, this new 50-tonne class excavator is well-suited to working alongside Volvo CE’s A25G or A35G ADTs in large earthmoving, roadbuilding, or quarrying applications.

The excavator is fitted with Volvo Smart View with Obstacle Detection, providing a real-time view of the machine’s surroundings. It is a safety system that issues automatic alerts when obstacles are detected.

Operator comfort has been a priority during design and the EC500 features a new and improved operator interface and cabin design.

Stephen Roy, president of Volvo CE North America, said that the pre-production model on show at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2023 “gives an insight into the future, with enhanced safety, operability and productivity.”

The next-generation excavator is set up to access a range of machine options to help operators complete tasks faster, more easily and more safely. It will also boost performance and productivity levels.

Manufactured at Volvo CE’s crawler excavator plant in Changwon, Korea, production of the EC500 will commence at the end of 2023 and the machine will be available in selected markets such as North America, Europe and Korea.

Komatsu Europe has unveiled the Komatsu SubMonitor system for wheeled loaders.

Focusing on simplified operation by merging many features into one device, the SubMonitor creates a new touchscreen interface for the operator to interact with the machine's assist systems, which include an Extended Load-Pilot, a new rear-view Supervision system with a high-definition camera and rear-radar obstacle detection, and an all-new, performance-boosting Efficiency Trainer module.

Northern Ireland-based Skipway has bought two new Hyundai A-Series wheeled loaders
Northern Ireland-based Skipway has bought two new Hyundai A-Series wheeled loaders

"The 12.1" ergonomic touchscreen is said to provide easy, intuitive operation, reducing confusion and work interruptions versus the multitude of separate sub-systems that are all too common today. The Komatsu SubMonitor is the base for a new era of machine features that deliver unrivalled control, comfort, and safety.

The Komatsu Load-Pilot as a weighing system has been updated in terms of functionality and controllability. Accurate and fast weighing results with the improved auto-weighing function, material definition at will and productivity and efficiency display for different materials enable smooth operation. Since all important elements are displayed on the monitor, the adjustment can be easily made on the screen with just a few clicks, without diving into the machine menu. The tidy arrangement of all functions is self-explanatory.

The SubMonitor is available as a fitting option for Komatsu's WA380-WA500-8 wheeled loaders.

Northern Irish waste firm Skipway Waste Management & Recycling has celebrated its 25-year anniversary with Hyundai Construction Equipment Europe with the purchase of two brand-new A-series wheeled loaders.

Belfast-based Skipway briefed its trusted dealer, Northern Lift Trucks, to source machines that would be durable, with a focus on good fuel economy and operator comfort. The machine that stood out as perfect for the job was the HL960A – and Skipway ordered two of them.

Matthew Heatrick, systems manager of Skipway, commented: “We’ve only ever used Hyundais here at Skipway – mostly 770 models over the years - so we knew that we liked and trusted the brand, and wanted to stick with them for our next purchase. Already we’re seeing the benefits of upgrading to the new A-series machines – their fuel economy is so much better; they’re using half the diesel of the previous ones which obviously makes a huge difference to our finances.”

The two machines have been earmarked and specified for different uses – one of the HL960As will be based at a materials -recovery site in Belfast and used for the heavy-duty tasks of stockpiling waste and loading rubble and timber. This machine has been fitted with longer arms and supplied with different bucket attachments to ensure the HL960A can tackle any load, terrain and material in its path.

The second HL960A will be used for waste transportation at a second Skipway site in Newtownards, where flexible and robust machines are key to running an efficient operation.  

One of the two Hitachi ZW310-7 medium wheeled loaders at Longwater Gravel’s Coxford Abbey quarry
One of the two Hitachi ZW310-7 medium wheeled loaders at Longwater Gravel’s Coxford Abbey quarry

As producers of quality aggregates, Longwater Gravel has invested in an expanding fleet of Hitachi construction equipment to work across its three quarries at Coxford Abbey, Horstead and Wymondham in Norfolk. Celebrating its platinum anniversary in 2022 and ongoing partnership with Hitachi Construction Machinery (UK), the Costessey-based company has purchased the first two ZW310-7 medium wheeled loaders in the UK for the Coxford Abbey site near Fakenham.

The impressive new machines have been added to Longwater Gravel’s expanding line-up of Hitachi wheeled loaders: two ZW310-6s, a ZW220-5 and a ZW220-6 at Coxford Abbey; a ZW310-6 and a ZW220-6 at Wymondham; two ZW220-6s at Horstead; and two ZW180s servicing the stockyard at its Costessey headquarters.

In addition, the company has a ZX210LC-6 medium excavator working as the main production machine at each of the quarries.

As an example, the two ZW310-7s and ZX210LC-6 at Coxford Abbey help to achieve an annual production of 120,000 tonnes of sand and shingle, type 1 sub-base, natural shingle, and recycled, decorative and specialist aggregates. Once excavated and loaded on to an articulated dump truck, the raw materials are hauled to the production plant.

One of the wheeled loaders feeds them into the hopper and on to a dry screening process. This separates the large (25mm and bigger) from the fine materials, with the former being crushed and the latter being moved along to a washing barrel, which separates the sand and cleans the stone.

The stone then emerges from a wet screen into the bays for 10 and 20mm gravel, as well as coarse and soft sand. The water from the process is recycled into a lagoon, with the silt being periodically removed by an excavator. The new Hitachi wheeled loaders are also used for loading trucks, material handling and creating stockpiles.

Simon Smith, Longwater Gravel’s operations director, says: “Our Hitachi fleet has been reliable over the past eight years. The machines work well and there’s minimal downtime. In addition, the all-important support we receive from HCMUK is excellent.”

For more information on companies in this article