Putting a new spin on ‘construction on the fly’, a Volvo CE compact excavator has been delivered to a construction site in Switzerland by helicopter.
The company delivered jaw-dropping images of the all-electric ECR25 hovering 3,000m above the slopes of the Schilthorn mountain in the Swiss Alps, as it arrived at the summit, to aid the construction of foundations for a new summit station.
According to Volvo, the ECR25 is one of the few compact digging machines able to work at the site’s 2,970m altitude, due to its electric driveline – while the less dense and oxygen-rich air in the mountains causes issues for internal combustion engines, the electric machine operates equally well at high and low altitudes.
Volvo said the obvious advantage of the ECR25 being a zero-emissions machine were also a consideration in its use on the project.
Melchior Burlon, site manager at Ghelma AG Baubetriebe, which is carrying out the work, said, “There are two main problems up on the mountains: on the one hand, we don’t have much space here; and on the other hand, we often encounter problems with diesel engines operating at altitude owing to the thin air and the cold.”
Bulon added, “Volvo CE is the only supplier that offers something of this magnitude. Otherwise, there were only excavators up to two tons and we wanted the most powerful machine for the job – and something that we could still transport via helicopter if necessary.”
Iconic project for electric machine
When completed, the Schilthornbahn project will include the establishment of a cable car route between the village of Stechelberg and the Schilthorn summit.
With an estimated cost of €102 million, the new cableway and iconic summit station – made famous by its use in the James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – will enable up to 800 tourists per hour to visit the mountain’s summit.
Timur Abied, utility product manager from Volvo CE, said, “We’re thrilled that the ECR25 Electric has been selected for this project. Not only is it a tricky location, it’s also hugely iconic.
“We’re used to discussing the benefits of near-silent zero emission electric machines in busy urban locations and for indoor works. But this project shows the versatility of electric to solve more problems than one might think.
“We’re very much looking forward to proving the power of electric machines to rise to the toughest of challenges. “