A quiet revolution is taking place. Electric machines are here. As well as being better for the environment, they’re also opening up opportunities for new ways of working, allowing environments beyond traditional construction sites to get the job done with less noise, fewer vibrations and no exhaust fumes.
Not only can an electric machine do everything a diesel can, but it can also do other jobs a diesel can’t, thanks to reduced noise and zero emissions. So while electric machines are allowing us to do today’s jobs better, they are also allowing new jobs, environments and markets to be opened up thanks to electromobility.
Here, Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) evaluates the six key ways electrification is transforming the way work gets done.
By 2030, there will be 8.6 billion people on the planet, 70% of whom will live in cities. Urban noise is not just a mere annoyance, a by-product of living in built-up areas, but according to research by the European Environment Agency, environmental noise is a major problem affecting the health and wellbeing of millions of people in Europe. Long-term exposure can lead to stress, disturbed sleep, serious illness and can even increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
The near silence of electric machines – such as the Volvo ECR25 Electric and L25 Electric – is the ideal antidote. It also provides the operators with a more peaceful work environment with less vibrations and less noise so they can talk more easily with co-workers. What’s more, they open up practicable working hours. Digging outside a bedroom window, school zone or hospital room – even through the night – is no problem.
The tight spaces and lack of ventilation on most indoor demolition jobs or factory depots can be quite a challenge for users of diesel machines, often precluding their use. The potential exposure of workers to harmful exhaust fumes must be managed with adequate ventilation, which can often be expensive and cumbersome to install. Electric compact machines with zero emissions are the ideal solution. Add to this their near silent operation, and indoor construction and factory depots become ideal candidates for the electromobility revolution.
Maintaining a healthy environment for crops and livestock is vital for farmers. With a busy workload, machines are a lifeline, helping to complete a variety of tasks, from digging and loading, to ditch work, fence building and land clearing. Imagine electric machines that can do all of the work of their diesel counterparts, but without the fumes and lower noise levels. This also makes them ideal to use indoors in livestock buildings.
With a full day’s work on a single charge and up to 80% charge in as little as 1-2 hours, they’re certainly up for the job, helping keep operations running smoothly, whilst creating a safer, greener and more peaceful setting for the people, crops, animals and wider environment.
4. Food production
The air quality in greenhouses, orchards and fish hatcheries is of paramount importance, having a significant impact on the quality of produce that can be grown. And with customers demanding higher standards of environmental practice and food provenance, quiet, emission-free operations are the future.
Space is often also an issue in greenhouses and hatcheries, with narrow paths presenting a particular challenge and requiring excellent maneuverability. Electric compact machines offer the ideal solution: pollution free, quiet and with minimal vibration, they can be safely used on a variety of jobs to help with cleaning, cultivating, maintenance and heavy-lifting jobs.
5. Dust hazards
In high-dust environments like sawmills, diesel engines pose a danger because of the potential of sparks from the exhaust. But with electric machines this is no longer an issue. With no engine, and less noise, enabling co-workers to talk to one another more easily, they offer a safer, quieter alternative to diesel for all those heavy lifting jobs. What’s more, they require less maintenance than a diesel machine.
Another reason why the near silence of these machines is better for everyone, is that excessive noise is said to seriously harm human health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it “can disturb sleep, cause cardiovascular and psychophysiological effects, reduce performance and provoke annoyance responses and changes in social behavior.”
Landscaping jobs require a delicate hand, which is why the ECR25 Electric was chosen to work on one of the main show gardens at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show as one of its very first jobs after launching in 2019. The sustainable garden was dubbed the ‘quietest on site’ by BBC film crews, thanks to the machine’s low noise emissions. An additional benefit for landscaping projects such as this is that there are no pollutants emitted that can damage the precious trees or herbaceous borders. The fumes from a diesel exhaust can even kill buds before they get the chance to grow. It is one of the cleanest possible ways to do all the construction jobs a garden of this stature requires.
With the advent of stricter carbon emission regulations, and as we all look to meet our own CO2 reduction targets, electric machines will be key. The electromobility revolution is well and truly here.