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Optimizing Work Hours for Electric Heavy Equipment

January 2nd, 2024

The construction industry is undergoing a significant transformation, embracing electric equipment as viable alternatives to traditional diesel-powered counterparts. The increasing popularity of electric heavy machinery is attributed to several advantages, including lower or zero emissions, reduced operating costs, and quieter operations. However, as construction companies contemplate integrating electric machines into their fleets, understanding the operational nuances becomes crucial. One pressing question arises: How many hours must an electric machine run daily to match the performance of its diesel counterpart? Equally important is the concern about the longevity of the electric machine’s charge.

In assessing the operational requirements of electric machines, it becomes apparent that relying on the hours logged for equivalent diesel models may lead to significant overestimation. A pivotal factor contributing to this discrepancy is the elimination of idle time in electric machines, a stark contrast to their diesel counterparts.

Diesel engines necessitate idle periods for warming up and maintaining performance. Idle time also accumulates when an operator pauses work while another machine completes its designated task. This idle time adds up swiftly, and if diesel machines idle unnecessarily, such as during lunch breaks, the logged hours are not an accurate reflection of the actual operational hours required for their electric equivalents. Idle times can vary widely depending on the application, with machines idling 25% to 50% of the time not uncommon on many job sites.

Transitioning to electric equipment requires a departure from these traditional expectations. Electric machines offer instant power when the operator is actively controlling them. However, once control is relinquished, these machines quickly power down, eliminating excessive idle time.

As an example, Volvo compact electric machines are equipped with Auto Electric Motor Shut Down. When an operator ceases machine operation, the electric motor automatically turns off after a predefined period, selectable by the operator between three and 20 seconds. Resuming work prompts an instantaneous restart of the electric motor, providing immediate power as soon as the controls are engaged. This is a departure from the diesel engine scenario, where stopping work leads to idling and fuel consumption. In electric machines, the electric motors shut down based on the operator’s preferences, minimizing unnecessary idle time.

It’s essential to note that extreme cold weather can influence the operational duration of electric heavy equipment in certain applications. In colder regions, collaboration with local equipment dealers becomes crucial. They can assist in understanding how the machine(s) will be utilized, ensuring productivity and uptime align with specific environmental challenges.

For construction companies contemplating the incorporation of electric machines alongside their diesel-powered fleet, the dealer emerges as the most valuable resource. Consulting with the dealer facilitates accurate estimations of the required operating hours for electric machines. The transition to electric equipment reveals a marked departure from conventional expectations, and companies are likely to discover that the operational hours needed are not as extensive as initially presumed.

In conclusion, the construction industry’s shift towards electric heavy equipment is a transformative journey, offering environmental and economic benefits. Understanding the operational dynamics, especially the absence of idle time in electric machines, is crucial for accurate estimations. With the right insights from equipment dealers and an appreciation for the unique characteristics of electric machinery, construction companies can seamlessly integrate these advanced solutions into their fleets, realizing the full potential of sustainable and efficient operations.