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Electric Site delivers ‘groundbreaking’ results

HX2 fleet of autonomous load carriers

Carbon emissions reduced by 98% at Volvo CE and Skanska Electric Site research project

VOLVO Construction Equipment and their customer Skanska have recorded groundbreaking results from their Electric Site research project, including a 98% reduction in carbon emissions. The two firms have been testing the viability of the Electric Site over the last 10 weeks at Skanska’s Vikan Kross Quarry, near Gothenburg, Sweden.

The results are now in and Volvo CE and Skanska say they are even better than expected. The tests showed a 98% reduction in carbon emissions, a 70% reduction in energy cost and a 40% reduction in operator cost.

The results also indicate that the Electric Site project represents a big step in helping Volvo CE achieve their future vision where work sites are 10 times more efficient, with zero accidents, zero unplanned stops and zero emissions.

Together, the results support the potential for a 25% reduction in total cost of operations, although at this stage this is still just a prediction. As the prototype machines are part of a research project and are not commercially available, it is impossible to give a guaranteed figure.

‘Over the last 10 weeks, we’ve made incredible progress, learnt a lot and seen huge potential in the Electric Site solution’s environmental, efficiency, safety and cost benefits,’ said Uwe Müller, chief project manager for the Electric Site at Volvo CE.

‘In fact, we have decided that we want to learn more, so we will extend our test period with Skanska until the end of the year. The results we have seen so far confirm that this research project is a step towards transforming the quarry and aggregates industry and creating emission-free quarries.’

The Electric Site project aims to electrify each transport stage in a quarry – from excavation to primary crushing, and transport to secondary crushing. It incorporates electric and autonomous prototype Volvo CE machines, new work methods, and site management systems, which together form a complete site solution. New technology encompasses machine and fleet control systems, and logistic solutions for electric machines in quarries.

‘With climate change reshaping our industry, we need to find new, sustainable solutions and build partnerships with organizations that have different competencies,’ said Anders Danielsson, president and chief executive officer of Skanska.

‘Our ambition is that this collaboration with Volvo CE will help us and our customers to reduce our carbon footprint. The power of partnership will make it happen.’

The Electric Site project involves eight HX2 autonomous, battery-electric load carriers, which transport the material from the primary mobile crusher up to the secondary static crusher. In terms of energy use per tonne, the HX2s proved that they could help Volvo CE take a big step towards achieving their future vision where work sites are 10 times more efficient.

The second-generation prototypes incorporate shared technologies and components from the Volvo Group. They use a lithium-ion battery to power two electric motors which drive the machine; the hydraulics are driven by an additional electric motor. The HX2 is fitted with a vision system that allows it to detect humans and obstacles in its vicinity. It can follow an adjustable, pre-programmed GPS path.

The LX1 prototype electric hybrid wheel loader delivered more than a 50% improvement in fuel efficiency at the quarry, as well as significant reductions in emissions and noise pollution, compared with its conventional counterparts. Its job was to organize the piles of material at the site.

The LX1 is a series hybrid that incorporates a driveline that consists of electric drive motors mounted at the wheels, electric-driven hydraulics, an energy-storage system, a significantly smaller diesel engine and new machine architecture, including a new lifting unit design. It is this combination that is said to deliver the substantial gain in fuel efficiency.

The 70-tonne EX1 dual-powered, cable-connected excavator prototype loaded the primary crusher at the quarry. The base machine for the EX1 is a Volvo EC750 crawler excavator that has been upgraded to incorporate an electric motor in addition to the diesel engine.

At the quarry, the machine was plugged into the grid, so zero emissions were emitted. If the cable is connected, the EX1 automatically starts in electric mode; if it is not, it starts in diesel mode. The EX1 is operated in exactly the same way as a conventional Volvo excavator.

‘At Volvo CE, we believe in a sustainable future and we are doing our best to build the world we want to live in,’ concluded Melker Jernberg, president of Volvo CE. ‘The Electric Site is one example of how we are trying to achieve this. With this research project we are combining intelligent machines, automation and electromobility to challenge traditional ways of working in the quarrying industry and explore new alternatives.

‘We will now further mature the technologies involved and the reliability of the concept. Developing, testing and validating prototype machines with a customer at an early stage in the process speeds up development and ultimately brings more value to us and our customers.’

Quarry Management magazine sent journalist Dan Gilkes to Sweden to find out more about results of the Electric Site research project. Read his detailed exclusive report which appeared in the January edition of the journal.

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