Running heavy machinery in a quarry environment is a dirty business, involving massive diesel trucks belching out exhaust fumes. But it doesn't have to be. Volvo Construction Equipment has teamed up with Skanska to viability test its Electric Site concept. The project will run for 10 weeks at the latter's Vikan Kross quarry, where Volvo's electric and autonomous machinery will do their thing in a real production environment.
Each transport stage at the test site will be electrified – "from excavation to primary crushing, and transport to secondary crushing" – though Volvo admits that a small amount of diesel will still be used at the Electric Site, which is located near Gothenburg in Sweden. Skanska's working quarry produces materials for the construction industry, including asphalt and cement, and the test operation will run at the same level as it did before the electric heavy machinery rolled in. But it's expected to reduce carbon emissions by up to 95 percent and, equally as important, shave 25 percent off running costs too.
Volvo CE has had to develop new concepts for the project, as well as fresh work methods and site management systems. "The total site solution we developed together with our customer Skanska is not a commercial solution for sale today and we will evaluate the outcome of the tests but we have learned so much already, elements of which will be fed into our future product development," said Volvo CE's Melker Jernberg.
Three rigid haulers have been replaced by a fleet of eight HX2 autonomous, battery-electric load carriers. The driverless hauler has been treated to a new drivetrain and vision system to help it detect and avoid obstacles in its path. These vehicles will be used to transport material from the primary mobile crusher to the secondary static crusher.
The primary crusher is loaded up using a dual-powered, cable-connected EX1 excavator based on Volvo's EC750 model. This machine will remain pretty much static during operation and will be cabled to the grid for emissions-free loading, but Volvo has included a diesel engine so that it can move around the site if required. "We've designed it with flexibility in mind, so that we have the option of using the diesel engine when it's needed, for example, to reposition the machine or quickly move it prior to blasting," chief project manager Uwe Müller explained.
A small diesel engine has also been included in the LX1 prototype wheel loader, which will move materials around the site. The electric part of this vehicle's drivetrain consists of electric motors mounted at the wheels and electric hydraulics, as well as a battery storage system. Volvo reckons the prototype is capable of doing the work of a wheel loader "that is one size larger."
You can hear from Müller in the video below.
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