Heavy machines making light work

By Mike Hayes22 March 2022

First you dig, then you load, then you haul. Sounds simple, but today’s earthmoving machines are really anything but simple – they are simply better by design, as Mike Hayes reports

Case’s E Series crawler excavators boast engine advances, care of partner FTP, ensuring a lower total cost of ownership (Photo: Case Construction Equipment)

With so many challenges facing the European construction market – the horrific situation in Ukraine, no end in sight to materials and skills shortages, and ongoing issues brought about by the coronavirus pandemic – one might be forgiven for assuming construction is an industry in decline.

On the contrary, these very challenging circumstances are barely managing to hold back the growth of construction companies, who are largely sitting on significant order books.

At this time, most manufacturers of earthmoving equipment are finding it impossible to meet demand. Nevertheless, new machines are being released, to feed a European market expected to be buoyed by the roll out of recovery packages from the European Union.

The power to dig

Case recently announced the launch of its new E-Series crawler excavator range, which includes seven new models, culminating with the 30 tonne CX300E.

With strengthened machine structure and undercarriage, Stage V engines and enhanced cabs, plus improved hydraulics controls and settings, the range also comes with Case’s Service Solutions, which the company says will lead to greater machine uptime.

A bidirectional modem on the machine operates with the fleet management software, Case SiteConnect and SiteWatchTM. This solution promises geolocation and fleet security (including unauthorised use alerts).

Reports can be delivered on fuel consumption, utilisation rate, machine hours and idle time, with data available via a portal. Experts from Case’s Uptime Center team are also able to send alerts based on machine performance to dealers who can potentially access machine data remotely and take corrective action.

Sany’s SY305C will benefit from automatic air conditioning and a chiller cabinet behind their seat – how cool is that? (Photo: Sany)

With emissions being top of mind for most European construction businesses, Case has utilised its long-standing partnership with powertrain specialist FPT, to produce more powerful and efficient engines across the range, with the 21-30-tonne models hosting 6.7 litre models.

Egidio Galano, a construction equipment director with Case’s parent company, CNH Industrial, describes the engines as “…a solution free from exhaust gas recirculation, ensuring greater efficiency during the fuel combustion.

“When coupled with selective catalytic reduction on the filter, the E-Series delivers unprecedented total cost of ownership improvements.”

Case insists that, when running the machines in Eco mode, they are capable of delivering fuel savings of up to 17%.

Tool carriers

Another crawler excavator launch this year comes from Doosan, who revealed three new 23-25 tonne Stage V machines.

The 23.3 tonne DX235LC-7 and the heavier 25.7 tonne DX255LC-7 conventional swing excavators are complemented by the 24.3 tonne DX235LCR-7 reduced radius model and all models promise what Doosan calls “significantly higher performance in every area”, compared with their Stage IV predecessors.

The reduced radius DX235LCR-7 has a swing radius of just 1724mm, designed for heavy work either close to buildings or in the often confined spaces on road and rail projects.

All of the new models can operate with tiltrotators and have a new Tiltrotator Mode on the control panel, intended to ensure optimised hydraulic flow for the attachment.

Due to the higher lifting capacities of the machines, Doosan has incorporated a heavy 5.0 tonne counterweight as standard on two of the models, and a 6.4 tonne counterweight on the reduced radius DX235LCR-7. The company says the heavier counterweights make the machines particular suited to operating with heavier attachments, such as tiltrotators.

A Fine Swing function is another new feature across the three machines, aimed at minimising the shaking that inevitably occurs at the beginning or end of a swing movement.

A raft of new features inside the cab will also please operators. They include a 20mm touch screen, DAB audio (handsfree and Bluetooth), keyless start, a heated seat (with cooling as an option), 8 LED work lights and ultrasonic detection of obstacles as an option on all but the DX235LCR-7.

Ergonomics at work

Inside the cab is also a good place to start when looking at Sany’s latest crawler excavator, the 32 tonne SY305C.

The company speaks proudly of the user experience within the new machine, and operators will appreciate the 25mm touch display, which not only delivers machine data, but also shows images from the excavator’s two cameras.

The cab also boasts an air-suspension seat with continuously adjustable heating. Control elements are also connected to the seat, making for an ergonomic workspace.

Other comforts inside the cab include optimised insulation, reducing noise and dust, while an air-conditioning system and a chilled compartment behind the operator’s seat, help to keep things cool.

Beyond the cab, the SY305C’s Stage V-compliant drive unit is made by Cummins and has a combination of SCR (selective catalytic reduction) and DPF (diesel particulate filter) technology.

Sany says the machine’s lack of EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) results in maximum productivity and minimal fuel consumption.

The unit needs no additional cooling units, making it more compact and allowing for optimal visibility to the rear of the machine.

Quick tool changeovers are another feature of the excavator, with a hydraulic quick-coupler preparation included as standard. Sany says the hammer value can be changed with the touch of a single button, when changing from a hammer to shears.

Taking the strain

In December last year, Cat launched its electric drive 988K XE wheeled loader.

Key features of the machine include an increase in downhill speed of up to 10% and increased hydraulic breakout force for up to 5% better production.

The Rimpull Control feature allows operators to adjust the machine’s torque up or down to match the underfoot conditions.

The updated design of the 988K also helps to improve cycle times, while an option counterweight increases stability and improves manoeuvrability.

The new machine has three braking levels, which operators can adjust with single right-hand pedal operation. In addition, Cat says its tyre slip prevention system will reduce wear and lower operating costs.

Other features include the switch reluctance electric drive technology which increases overall efficiency by 25%. While the electric drive helps to reduce emissions, Economy mode operation of the Cat C18 engine helps to reduce fuel consumption.

Caterpillar says greenhouse gas reduction using the electric over mechanical drive are equivalent to a year of electricity usage for about 10 homes.

Put to the test

CE’s test driver Dan Gilkes put Liebherr’s new TA230 ADT (articulated dump truck) through its paces recently and was impressed to find that Liebherr had reduced the size of the dump body from 19m3 to a class-competitive 18m3.

“The payload is set at 28 tonnes,” he said, “and the machine will come with Liebherr’s load weighing system, with lights outside the cab to tell the loading operator when the truck is up to weight.”

The TA230 has permanent six-wheel drive and there are both inter-axle and cross axle differential locks, for maximum traction.

The transmission is mounted above the front axle, while all of the engine exhaust after-treatment is packaged high up behind the cab.

Features on Cat’s new 988K XE wheeled loader include Rimpull Control, allowing operators to adjust torque to match ground conditions (Photo: Caterpillar)

After driving the hauler, Gilkes noted, “To achieve that steeply sloping bonnet line, greatly improving forward visibility from the cab, the engine is tilted forwards by 7°, while all of the cooler cores and radiators are mounted to either side of the engine.”

Complimenting the after-treatment system, he said, “The DPF has passive regeneration, so there is no need to stop the truck while burning off soot and it should last up to 5,000 hours before the need for a refurbishment or replacement.”

Inside the cab, Gilkes found “the front windscreen now has a glass-to-glass join with the front quarter windows. This, in combination with the lower bonnet line and much smaller mirror supports, results in a panoramic view to the front and sides of the truck.”

In summary, he said, “The ADT rides well, has plenty of pulling power and the traction to put that power to good use. The new cab is a comfortable place to spend the day and the truck promises the productivity to justify that badge. In a rapidly growing sector, Liebherr’s new TA230 should do well.” 

Volvo takes hydraulics to new heights

Volvo has commended a new Common Pressure Rail Hybrid system for excavators in its technology awards, saying it results in both improved performance and a reduction in CO2 emissions.

Volvo CE teams from Switzerland and South Korea combined with Finnish firm Norrhydro to develop the system, which originated as an academic project.

In the system, all of the machine’s functions are connected to hydraulic accumulators via a common pressure rail, comprising two or more pressure lines. For cylinder-driven functions, ‘smart actuators’ are used to convert hydraulic power to force and speed in an energy-efficient way.

The company said real-world customer trials were now taking place on the system, with its continued development expected to accelerate the introduction of e-mobility across its larger excavators.

Lars Stenqvist, CTO Volvo Group, said, “This innovation enables Volvo CE to offer its customers a truly unique electro-hydraulic solution, pushing fuel efficiency to new levels. It’s demonstrating the passion of our engineers to bring forward customer-oriented solutions and systems that will drive the transformation towards net-zero emissions operations”.

A brand new brand                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Volvo Group acquired the Scotland-based Terex Trucks business in 2014. Now, eight years later the group is rebooting the branded as Rokbak.

Rokbak is looking to make its mark on the European hauler market with its new-look RA30 and RA40 machines (Photo: Rokbak)

Following significant investment in the products and the manufacturing process, the company has launched its first machines carrying the new livery, the RA30 and RA40 haulers.

The larger of the two, the RA40, is powered by a Scania DC13 engine, with a gross power of 331kW, a maximum torque of 2,255Nm and a 38 tonne payload.

The smaller RA30 has a 28 tonne capacity and is powered by a Scania DC9 engine, with gross power of 276kW and a maximum torque of 1,880Nm.

Both machines meet EU Stage V emissions standards and boast adaptive shifting transmission to provide enhanced fuel economy.

Rokbak says the first machines have now been delivered to customers in Europe, with two haulers now at work on a high-speed rail link project between France and Italy.

Rokbak sales director Guy Wilson says, “Europe holds many exciting opportunities for us. The European articulated hauler market has increased 60% over the last year and we have seen particularly robust growth in this region – especially in the UK and France – driven by large infrastructure projects. Given the significant growth in our order book, we are feeling very optimistic for 2022.”

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