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Hawk Plant investigate hybrid power

Komatsu HB365LC-3 Hybrid excavator

Company orders 13 fuel-saving Komatsu Hybrid excavators following week-long trial at Welsh Slate

HAWK Plant Hire are one of the largest independent plant hire companies in the UK with more than 40 years’ experience supplying equipment.

With a comprehensive fleet of more than 2,000 items, including excavators, articulated dumptrucks, dozers, compaction equipment, loading shovels, backhoe loaders and bowsers, they have the equipment to satisfy numerous industries.

In today’s competitive marketplace, however, simply offering a broad range of products is not necessarily a differentiator, so Hawk focus on offering their customers the most technologically advanced and reliable equipment from leading manufacturers, and it was this business ethos that prompted an enquiry about Komatsu’s range of Hybrid excavators.

One specific aspect of Hawk’s enquiry focused on how the Hybrid machines would compare with the conventional machines currently in use at the numerous quarrying sites Hawk are contracted to.

After discussing their requirements with Ross Smith, Marubeni-Komatsu’s technology products manager, it was agreed that the best test of the new machine would be a week-long trial.

‘When our customers are considering a new type of machine for their fleet, giving them one to demo for a week provides the opportunity for them to really get to grips with the machine and explore its innovations and benefits,’ explained Mr Smith.

‘In the case of Komatsu’s Hybrid excavators, its primarily about the fuel savings that can be made, although the amount of fuel saved varies depending on what the machine is used for – another reason why the machine demo is invaluable.’

Mike Brazendale, operations manager for Hawk Crushing, said: ‘We already had a Komatsu PC360 in use at the Welsh Slate quarry site in Bethesda, North Wales, and were interested to see how the hybrid equivalent would compare, both in terms of fuel usage and productivity.

‘I talked to Ross about it and he agreed a week-long demo would be worthwhile, especially as the machine would be primarily used for loading material into the crushers and this type of work plays to the strengths of the hybrid system.’

Marubeni-Komatsu delivered their demo HB365LC-3 hybrid excavator to Welsh Slate and, with Peter Barrett, Marubeni’s expert machine demonstrator on site to provide a machine walk-around and answer any questions, the machine was quickly put to use in the quarry.

According to machine operator Arwel Griffith, first impressions were very positive.

‘I wondered if the Hybrid machine would be powerful enough and might struggle, but in operation it was actually very good and did everything the regular machine would do, with ease,’ he said.

‘I could tell straight away that it was noticeably quieter than the normal machine and also seemed much smoother in its operation. It was fast to slew round but very precise – I liked that.

‘In many ways, it felt like operating a much lighter class of machine. The cab was as comfortable as ever – maybe even more so because of the smoothness. Every now and then I’d have a quick check on the digital display to see how it was doing – it definitely used much less fuel,’ he concluded.

‘At the end of the week’s trial we had a rough idea what the fuel saving looked like,’ explained Mike Brazendale. ‘We were estimating on using around 60 litres less fuel each day, which represents a massive saving over the course of a year.’

These estimations were fully backed up by the Komatsu Komtrax report.

‘By identifying one of Hawk’s own PC360LC-10 excavators – itself an efficient machine – we could draw a direct comparison against the Hybrid HB365LC-3 where both machines were undertaking almost identical tasks,’ explained Ross Smith.

‘The results were staggering,’ he said. ‘Based on an actual work rate of 87.3%, the Hybrid machine saved a massive 7.9 litres/h. Assuming an 8-hour working day and a conservative 200 working days per year, that equates to 12,640 litres per year.

‘At current prices, that’s an annual saving of more than £6,000. On top of that, CO2 emissions would be reduced by a staggering 33 tonnes per year.

‘This test has really proven just how efficient the Komatsu Hybrid system can be under the right circumstances. For machines that are primarily used to load, slew, unload and slew back with very little travelling, the hybrid system operates at its peak, as hybrid regeneration occurs during slewing deceleration,’ said Mr Smith.

Based on these findings, Hawk have ordered three HB365s and 10 HB215 Hybrid excavators. These fuel-saving machines will be put to use on many of the company’s contracted sites as well as forming an essential part of their hire fleet.

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