Improvements in cost-efficiency, noise control, environmental design and ergonomics - the construction industry is facing such demands on many fronts. The good news is that not only the OEMs but also the aggregate and component manufacturers are responding to these challenges and coming up with innovative solutions. EQUIPMENT INDIA finds out the latest trends.
Improving cost-efficiency has become one of the most challenging aspects for any business in an intensely competitive market. In today's scenario, OEMs are focusing more on improvements in cost-efficiency, noise and dust control, environmental design and ergonomics that ultimately provides them with a cutting edge. It is no wonder then that fuel and energy efficiency have become two major parameters while selecting equipment, as the end-user community is more focused on the operating cost where bidding of projects ultimately is influenced by the lowest bid. The environmental and energy issues have also made the construction equipment industry develop more efficient and energy-saving machines.
Cost-efficiency is achieved not only just through cleaner engines but also optimising the man-machine interface trough a variety of machine control technologies, correcting the usage patterns and packaging solutions that takes care of meeting clients' business needs around project costs, topline and bottomline impact, and overall cost of ownership, etc.
Professor Gnnter Kunze, Head of the Department of Construction Machines and Conveying Technology at the Technical University of Dresden, gives an insight into current progress. According to him, in Europe and in the United States of America, significantly tighter limit values are being introduced for new machinery, varying according to performance categories. The focus is on the emission of soot particles and nitrogen oxides. Currently for the off-road category in Europe, EU Stage IIIB is the emissions standard, while in the US the standard is US Tier 4 Interim. In 2014, these will be replaced respectively by EU Stage IV and US Tier 4 Final, both of which require a further drastic reduction in emissions of nitrogen oxide.
Explaining the Indian scenario, AM Muralidharan, President, Volvo Construction Equipment India says, "For the CE equipment running on tyres, it`s Tier III emission norms and for the tracked machines, there are no norms as of now. We expect that there will be Tier II or Tier III norms brought to India for the tracked machines."
Says DV Brahme, Regional Manager, Mait India, "The Euro III norms are applicable for foundation equipment and are unlikely to change soon. However, in a few months from now, the US and Europe will graduate to Euro IV norms. The rest of the world will continue with Euro III." Brahme adds, "The real challenge before us as a country is the availability of low sulphur fuel that determines the emission of a particular engine. Even with the current emission norms, sometimes it becomes difficult to get acceptable quality of fuel at remote job sites. The adulteration of fuel with other low- cost chemicals is still taking places in many places. To stop it is a real challenge."
Speaking on the contradiction that a combustion process low on harmful emissions leads to higher fuel consumption, Prof Kunze points out, "The limit values so far were observed mainly by making adjustments inside the engine. But in doing so, in some cases, the constructors were confronted with the contradiction that a combustion process low on harmful emissions leads to higher fuel consumption. The requirement for ever tighter limit values has emphasised this ecological conflict. The limit values for off-road vehicles valid from 2014 require in most cases, an additional treatment, downstream of the engine, with effective, durable and low-maintenance emissions-reducing components. Depending on the application, a combination of technologies that reduce soot-particle and nitrogen-oxide emissions at the same time can be used to meet the low limits of EU Stage IIIB and US Tier 4 Final. Here, with mobile machinery, attention must be paid to the special conditions in which the machinery is used, to the variable operating cycles and to the performance requirements of the application in question. The enormous variety in off-road machinery makes it impossible to have a standard solution for emissions treatment."
Says Anil Bhatia, Director - Sales and Marketing, Case India, "Case has a dedicated team in place with the sole intention of keeping it up to pace with the latest trends and emission standards. We strive to achieve low levels of emissions and to have optimum fuel consumption for the machines with the help of superior technology. Our F series wheel loaders and B series motor graders are fitted with FPT 6.7 litre engines. These engines are equipped with CRD (Common Rail Diesel) injection system and EDC (Electronic Diesel Control system) systems."
Cost-efficiency is achieved not only just through cleaner engines but also optimising the man-machine interface through a variety of machine control technologies. Says Sanjoy Chakrabarty, Managing Director, Soilmec India, "We have a control system on our machine called Drill Mate System (DMS). It is a monitoring system, like a GPS, by which we can monitor the equipment from the control room. So it can be a control room monitor, or control room support can be given to it. It's like the machine is working in a remote place, the owner can sit in his office and watch the screen knowing exactly what is happening. This is something unique to our machines and it is a big advantage when you are using machines which are far away."
According to Muralidharan, Volvo CE is the first manufacturer to introduce a telematics system called CareTrack, a telematics system that allows remote monitoring and machine diagnostics by using exclusive Machine Tracking Information System (MATRIS). It allows customers to monitor a machine through a GSM connection and provide suitable maintenance suggestions. CareTrack com¡bines two independent systems, GPS and the mobile phone network, or data via satellite. These systems are coordinated in CareTrack and only two items need to be installed in the machine: a small computer with an integrated GPS receiver and modem plus an antenna. With CareTrack, a customer gets the knowledge and information he needs to make the right decisions about his machine and thereby increase profitability. The customer can access the information he needs by entering into a password protected website, which gives him detailed information about his machine.
"The eco-friendliness of the new Dash 3 generation exceeds the values specified in the exhaust emissions standards by far. The innovative EcoPlus package achieves fuel savings of more than 20 per cent and significantly lowers noise emissions. This results in a tremendous financial advantage due to lower operating costs, says P Ramesh, Managing Director and CEO, Wirtgen India.
Bauma 2013 witnessed some of the latest and most innovative fuel/energy- efficient technologies unveiled by OEMs. JCB presented its Ecomax engines which meet the rigorous emissions standards Stage IIB and Tier 4 Interim, without the need for diesel particle filters or emissions after-treatment. Instead, JCB is using a new engine technology (patent-pending) which enables particularly clean and efficient combustion. As well as the environmental benefit from lower emissions, this new development gives customers improved torque across the whole range of speeds, which according to the manufacturer significantly reduces fuel consumption.
Says Vipin Sondhi, MD & CEO, JCB India, "The JCB ecomax engine comes in the range of 76 hp to 150 hp and is naturally aspirated, turbocharged and with a common rail. They are pressurised by a high pressure rotary pump. The oil change period and engine filter change period of 500 hr each reducing maintenance cost, main filter change period of 1,000 hr, state-of-the-art Delphi fuel system. Features on the hot side include a heavy duty cylinder block specially designed for off-highway applications, aluminium alloy pistons for optimised cooling, centralised location of fuel injectors for even burning of fuel, four cylinder sixteen valves, deep bed plate design for improved stiffness, low noise and improved sealing. The engine can be put on full load directly, no running is required."
Caterpillar unveiled its new Cat hybrid excavator 336E H. Instead of losing the kinetic energy when braking the upper structure, it is captured in accumulators and re-used during swing acceleration. As per reports CAT has mastered the technically very difficult challenge of re-using hydraulic energy. Another way of saving on operating costs is offered by the Cat wheel loader 966K XE, also on show in the Bavarian capital in April 2013. This has been fitted with a new, step-less powertrain system designed to minimise fuel consumption.
The German manufacturer Liebherr unveiled a hybrid solution for heavy duty applications, the HS 8300 HD duty cycle crawler crane. Weighing in at over 350 tonne, this world's first such crane is fitted with a powerful and also environmentally friendly hybrid drive on a hydraulic basis.
Doosan Construction Equipment has brought out two new heavy-duty excavators in the 50-tonne class, both of which meet the Stage IIIB emissions standard: the DX490LC-3 model, with an operating weight of 49 tonne, and the DX530LC-3, with 52 tonne. According to this Korean manufacturer, the ratio of productivity (excavated cu m/h) to fuel consumption (l/h) in standard operating mode was increased by nine percent in both these models as compared to the previous models. The secret to the lower overall fuel consumption, says Doosan, lies in improved cooling, a display to inform the driver about fuel consumption and optimised main control valves, which reduce energy losses and deliver higher efficiency. In addition, extra sensors are fitted which ensure better electronic control of the pumps, the engine and the main control valve. As a result, throughput, pressure and torque can all be precisely adjusted to suit the individual operating requirements.
Hamm AG of Germany, part of the Wirtgen Group, is expanding its range of articulated tandem rollers. The new models - HD+ 70i and HD+ 80i - are fitted with engine technology that already meets the EU IV / Tier 4f standards, which will come into force in 2014. Two separately controlled ventilators cool the charge air, hydraulic oil and engine cooling fluid. In doing so the load-dependent control of the ventilator for engine cooling saves fuel and reduces noise emissions. In addition, the rollers are fitted as standard with the Hammtronic engine management system, which, according to Hamm, ensures that the engine is always operated in the right loading range.
Today the end-user segments are highly appreciative of fuel and energy efficiency and are really serious about improving cost-efficiency through all possible ways. But unfortunately the pull for green technologies that may help achieve this objective which has a direct link to the overall cost factor, is pushed to the market by the OEMs and other component manufacturers. Says Kapil Sehgal, Managing Director, Bucher Hydraulics, "In my opinion, energy efficiency should be user-driven. Unless the user is educated, they don't know from different kinds of technologies. Today, advancement in various technologies enables the machine manufacturer to make the machine more efficient. But the users are a bit reluctant to accept the changes. You have to educate them. Sometimes, the OEM has to take a risk, giving them better technology maybe at a better market acceptable price, and then educate them and show them the benefits and do some road shows. And then the demand will come." (Refer to page 72 for full interview).
Says Nitin Chalke, Managing Director - India, Eaton, "Globally, across industries, OEMs are getting technically more demanding with their needs becoming seemingly contradictory: the equipment must be more powerful while being very fuel- efficient; it needs to be extremely rugged while being very precise at the same time. The old demands of reliability remain but new standards of flexibility, serviceability and power are now being set. Hydraulics providers have a major role to play in enabling OEMs to meet these demands. OEMs are looking to their hydraulics partners to provide the smart muscle to power their machines. Hydraulic systems that can handle greater pressure with increased flow capacity and combined together into smaller packages to increase power density are in demand. At the same time better controls, precise power management through integration of electronic controls is required in order to meet the demands placed on these equipments." (Refer to page 74 for full interview).
"Due to the growing awareness around environment and prevention of worker fatigue, demand for smarter technologies like electro hydraulics and products with low NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) levels is also growing. Segments like construction, agriculture, mining, energy and oil and gas are the crucial ones which are fueling this demand for quality hydraulics products." According to him the latest trends in hydraulics systems point to applications of electronics, high pressure systems, compactness and systems without foundations. The customers are now mostly looking for the best usage of space, better power density and energy efficiency," says Nitin.
"Bonfiglioli has developed a range of mechatronics solutions for new generation of hybrid vehicles capable of integrating electric power with mechanical transmissions. It incorporates a high - power electric motor, instead of the conventional hydraulic motor and a braking system. The solutions not only guarantee greater energy efficiency and reduced fuel consumption but also help cut operating costs by extending service intervals and making servicing simpler than hydraulic drive solution. Innovations like a central tyre inflation/deflation system may be also included in the solution to improve overall efficiency of the diesel engine to wheel drivetrain. Power losses due to incorrect inflation can be avoided by optimising pressure to suit field work or on road transport condition," says Kennady Kaippally, Country Manager, Bonfiglioli India. (Refer to page 70 for full interview).
Speaking on the challenges, Nitin had this to say, "The real action in the coming years is going to be focused not on components but rather on integrated system solutions that marry hydraulics and electronics in increasingly innovative ways. This marriage will deliver even smarter products that combine the intelligence of electronics with the power density of hydraulics to enable all of these applications and many more that have not ever been thought of yet. Eaton is answering the emerging needs through the development of new smart electro-hydraulic technologies that shrink the footprint of hydraulics systems, improve their performance and energy efficiency and reduce emissions. These technologies give equipment manufacturers greater design flexibility to achieve the goal that every customer desires: more function, less fuel."