Contributing editor Becky Schultz recently spoke with David Venable, Director of Off-Highway Sub-Segment at Cummins Inc. They discussed current and future electrification trends in the heavy-duty off-road equipment industry.
Venable says electrification for earthmoving equipment is still on the verge of a major takeoff. However, more OEMs are looking at development of electric equipment. Excavators are of particular interest due to the many opportunities for energy recuperation due to boom and bucket movements throughout the daily duty cycle.
Listen to the Digging Deeper podcast from our sister brand ForConstructionPros.com to learn more about Venable's insights into the electrification trends of the off-highway equipment industry.
Cummins has increased its electrification research and development efforts in recent years due to growing demand in heavy-duty applications. This work includes development of batteries and other electric power system components. In addition to off-highway electric vehicles such as the mini excavator, Cummins is also developing on-road electric vehicle systems.
At this year's bauma, Cummins exhibited an electric mini excavator prototype developed in partnership with Hyundai. The excavator is powered by Cummins BM4.4E flexible battery modules, each of which produces 4.4 kWh of power. It can support a full work shift and be recharged in 3 hours.
Electric equipment in the market
Technology advancements in batteries and other components are enabling the rise of electrification in the off-road equipment industry. Noticeable benefits such as reduced emissions, noise and costs—including those for fuel and maintenance— are also aiding uptake.
Volvo Construction Equipment has announced it will stop making diesel versions of some compact excavators and wheel loaders as soon as mid-2020. the will be replaced by electric versions such as the electric compact excavator ECR25 and L25 electric wheel loader.
The ECR25 has already been put to use building a garden for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in the U.K. Volvo's machine produces zero emissions and operates quietly, benefiting the plants, workers and residents in the area where the show is taking place.
Compact equipment like the ECR25 is seen as the first entry point for electrification in off-road machines as they don't require as much battery power or storage as larger equipment.
Epiroc recently received new orders for its battery electric mining equipment. Just a year ago the company introduced the newest version of its battery electric mining equipment which can be used above and below ground.
Underground mining greatly benefits from the advantages battery-electric power systems provide. The lack of emissions keeps workers safe and reduces the amount of ventilation systems needed in the mines, which are costly.
The trend toward further electrification is expected to continue as technology matures and becomes more ruggedized for off-road applications.