Earth eaters

27 February 2008

All of the excavators launched atBauma this year featured new EU Stage IIIA/US Tier 3 compliant engines. The Stage IIIA regulations are being introduced in steps, and first affected were the larger excavator models in January 2006. At beginning of 2007 the regulations impacted on the 75 to 130 kW and the 19 to 37 kW engine power bands, which in turn affected 14 tonne to 25 tonne and below 5 tonne mini excavators respectively. The 37 to 75kW power band – 5 tonne to 14 tonne excavators - will be the next to be affected by Stage IIIA regulations in January 2008.

New Machines

Hitachi introduced the latest additions to its Zaxis excavators at Bauma this year including the 17,9 tonne ZX160-3 and 22 tonne ZX180-3. The company also introduced four Stage IIIA compliant wheeled excavators in the shape of the 14,7 tonne ZX140W-3; 16,6 to 18,6 tonne ZX170W-3; 18 to 20,4 tonne ZX190W-3 and the 19,4 to 21,7 tonne ZX210W-3.

Paul Burger, the international sales general manager for Hitachi Construction Machinery in Europe, said due to increasingly stringent EU noise and engine emissions regulations, Hitachi has altered its five to seven year cycle, for developing new machines, to a shorter three to four year cycle.

Caterpillar has introduced the new 319D L, 319D LN and 321D LCR medium sized hydraulic excavators complementing its existing D-series range. These machines replace the current 318C L, 319C LN and 321C LCR models. In addition, the 320D and 323D hydraulic excavators have been updated with the new C6,4 ACERT engine. A company spokesman said this increases machine performance while meeting the EU Stage IIIA regulations. All D-Series medium hydraulic excavators incorporate a 4-cylinder C4,2 ACERT engine or a 6-cylinder C6,4 ACERT engine, he added.

“While meeting the Stage IIIA emissions regulations, these proven engines feature enhanced fuel economy by electronic control of fuel injection and air management resulting in more efficient combustion and lower owning and operating costs. The costs are further reduced by an improvement of the long service and maintenance intervals in combination with the pro-active system diagnostics,” the spokesman said.

The new 4-cylinder C4,2 ACERT engine on the 17,3 tonne capacity 319D L and 319D LN allows for -15% lower fuel consumption and +9% higher productivity, the spokesman said.

A new range of Stage IIIA compliant D-series wheel excavators have also been introduced by Caterpillar, ranging from 13 to 22 tonnes including models, M313D, M315D, M316D, M318D and M322D.

The company spokesman said, “They deliver increased lift capacity and faster cycle times through changes in engines and hydraulics compared to the C-series machines they replace.” He added fuel efficiency in the D series is +7 to +8% greater than the previous models. Cat also introduced three midsized hydraulic excavators, the 320D L, the 320D LRR and the 321D LCR, each with a different swing radius for various types of application.

Doosan introduced four new excavators at Bauma, including the 13 tonne DX140W, the 15 tonne DX160W, the 17,5 tonne DX190W and the 19,0 tonne DX210 W. In addition, three new middle range hydraulic crawler excavators, the 16 tonne DX180LC, the 19,5 tonne DX225LC and the 22,4 tonne DX255LC were also launched at the show. A spokesman for the company said the new machines are powered by the new Doosan DL06, common rail, 6-cylinder engine with air to air inter-cooling equipped with four valves per cylinder and exhaust gas re-circulation.

The spokesman added production performance levels have increased in all machines.

“The improved performance is not only related to the engine, but also includes the hydraulic system, that has been fundamentally redesigned to give improved controllability of each service and better combined operation of arm, boom and swing,” he said.

This year JCB launched its new series of JS Auto tracked and wheeled excavators, which the company claims are the most powerful and efficient machines it has ever produced. The new models are the JS160/180 Auto, JS190 Auto, JS 200/210/220/235 Auto, JZ235/255 Auto and the JS240/260 Auto tracked models. The new wheeled excavators in the range are the JS145W Auto, JS160W Auto, JS175W Auto and JS200W Auto models.

JCB chief operating officer, Matthew Taylor, said the eleven new 14 to 26 tonne capacity models featuring Stage IIIA compliant engines are more productive, more comfortable and cheaper to run.

He added, “The new engines across the range give maximum efficiency, low noise levels and emissions, and are up to +25% more powerful than their predecessors. Torque on the new models is also increased by as much as +27%. The result is a typical productivity increase of +5% over previous models which will lead to major cost and time savings for owners.”

Komatsu's new 13 tonne PC138US-8 ultra short-tail excavator is the latest in the company's advanced Dash 8 excavator range. A spokesman for the company said the model is fitted with an electronically controlled high-pressure common-rail engine, which is compliant with EU Stage IIIA emissions regulations, which come into force for this class of machine in January 2008.

“In addition the engine is very quiet and together with a unique low noise design, the PC139US-8 meets EU noise regulations with a dynamic noise of just 100 dB (A).

New crawler excavators from New Holland include the E175B and E195B. The new machines are positioned in the under-20 tonne segment and are part of the development plan that will result in the total overhaul of the range by 2010, a company spokesman said.

The E175B and E195B use 4-cylinder direct injection 4,5 litre diesel with turbo charger and intercooler. The machines use Stage IIIA compliant engines, which can operate with fuels that contain up to 20% bio diesel.

The engines used in the new range of C-series EW wheeled excavators from Volvo produce high torque at low revs and efficient fuel consumption, according to a company spokesman. The models: the 14,4 to 15,8 tonne EW140C, the 16,4 to 18,0 tonne EW160C and the 18,0 to 20,1 tonne EW180C use Volvo Stage IIIA compliant engines with V-ACT (Volvo Advanced Combustion Technology). The engines feature a large capacity turbo charger, new air management and precision high-pressure fuel injection. The larger models in the C-Series; models EC240C, EC290C, EC360C and EC460C, cover weight classes between 25 to 49 tonnes and follow the launch of the 16 to 23 tonne EC160C, EC180C and EC210C models

Market

The rapid pace at which the construction industry has developed across Europe and the implementation of new engine emissions regulations in the past year has boosted sales of excavators. Managing director of Off-Highway Research, David Phillips, said after several years of growth, sales of crawler excavators in 2006 grew by +17% to 29662 units, up from 25380 units in 2005. He said this represents the peak of demand and reflects the popularity of the 8 to 12 tonne midi excavator.

“Very strong demand continued to be seen in the UK (the largest market in Europe, with 22%), France and Germany, although Italy proved to be disappointingly flat,” Mr Phillips added.

Mr Burger echoed these sentiments adding that all European markets in the excavator sector are performing well except for the Portuguese and Italian markets. However he added, even in Portugal, contractors are demanding more excavators for jobs outside of the country, for example in Africa.

He added, “Norway is growing out of all proportion if you compare the number of crawler excavators going into the country with the number of people living there.” He said there has been particular demand for the company's heavier excavators – in the 22,5 tonne to 35 tonne range – throughout Europe. However, he said like most manufactures and industry experts Hitachi predicts that the growth will slow down by 2009.

Mr Phillips said sales of wheeled excavators increased by +12% in 2006 to 10200 units, the third successive year of growth. He added that the market would increase slightly in 2007 as demand in Germany strengthens once again, although it is likely to decline to more sustainable levels of around 9000 units over the medium to long term.

Outlook

The drive towards improving machine performance and efficiency as well satisfying new engine emissions legislation means the immediate outlook for the market looks promising. However, Mr Phillips said future demand for crawler excavators is likely to decline by about -18% over the next five years. But he added, “even at 25000 units a year the market will remain in robust health.”

Germany and the UK are expected to show further growth against a regional background of decline, while sharp falls are forecast for France, Italy and Spain, he added.

Meanwhile, the key to future product development centres on improving machine performance while reducing the impact on the environment. One example of this is Hitachi's aim to manufacture solar powered excavators for the Japanese market.

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