The Future of Diggers

JCB Electric Digger

With huge environmental pressures and the government currently encouraging motorists to make the switch from ICE cars ‘internal combustion engine’ to Hybrid or Electric, in this blog post, we will look at the construction industry and the future of diggers.

BENEFITS OF GOING GREEN

From the point of view of owning hybrid or electric diggers, the running costs are much cheaper than that of a machine which runs purely on diesel. Believe it or not but the running costs of electric diggers are around £1 per hour.

There are zero emissions which means for the operator, there is no breathing in diesel fumes. The impact on the health of the workforce is therefore much improved. This is something forward thinking companies should be considering and acting upon very soon.

Finally, no engine noise means it is actually much safer to use hybrid or electric diggers on a construction site. The hybrid and electric diggers do however have a murmur sound and a beep sound, this is to notify the operator that the digger is on, otherwise the operate literally wouldn’t have a clue. Electric diggers are so quiet! Not only will having a hybrid or electric digger save on the cost of ear defenders but workers will be able to hear each other, give instruction better or warn each other of any danger.  

WHAT IS HYBRID TECHNOLOGY AND HOW DOES IT WORK?

Hybrid machines means that an ICE engine, most likely diesel run is combined with an electric motor. Unlike a purely electric machine, a hybrid would not need to be plugged in to charge the battery. Instead the electric motor powers the machine, drawing on the battery for power. With a digger, the energy is generated when the machine turns, and is then stored in the capacitor. When the machine accelerates, the stored energy is then used to assist the generation motor. 

Let’s take a Komatsu PC210 excavator. on average when using a hybrid equivalent of the PC210, you will reduce fuel consumption by 30% compared to using an ICE machine.

WHAT IS ELECTRIC TECHNOLOGY AND HOW DOES IT WORK?

Electric diggers must be plugged in to charge the battery. Unlike ICE or hybrid machines, there is no alternative fuel source such as petrol or diesel to power the machine. The excavator will have an electric motor and lithium-ion battery packs to deliver the energy. 

CONCERNS OVER HYBRID AND ELECTRIC DIGGERS

There are concerns over the purchase and use of hybrid or electric diggers, which we fully understand. 

Some of these concerns include: 

  • The digger will run out of charge at the side of the road.
  • It takes too long to charge the machine.
  • I can’t charge the machine if I’m on a construction site.

MYTH BUSTERS

  • Electric diggers are capable of giving 8 hours of use between charging.
  • An electric digger can take as little as 30 minutes to charge or up to 12 hours, depending on the kW of the charging point. However, if your workers don’t work during the day or through the night, this is ample time for your digger to charge and be ready for use. 
  • It depends on where you’re carrying out the construction work. If on the side of a motorway then the cost of a generator may not be practical. However, if you’re working close to buildings such as offices, an airport or hospital you should be able to plug in and charge. 

HYBRID DIGGERS CURRENTLY ON THE MARKET

So let’s look at hybrid diggers currently available on the market. If you’re looking Komatsu HB215LC-3 Hybrid excavator to buy a Komatsu, you will see that Komatsu currently manufactures two types of hybrid machines. These include the HB 365LC and the HB 215LC.

A new hybrid digger to have recently hit the market is the Takeuchi TB216 Mini Hybrid Excavator, which works on both diesel and electric. This 1.9 tonne mini excavator is equipped with an electric motor, which does not require any maintenance, therefore keeping the running costs very low. 

ELECTRIC DIGGERS CURRENTLY ON THE MARKET

In March 2018, JCB announced the release of their first ever purely electric JCB 19C-1E Electric Diggerdigger. A 1.9 tonne mini excavator with zero emissions. This machine was designed to work indoors, underground and in urban areas. 

The machine once fully charged can carry out tasks digging at the same speed as its diesel counterpart.

There is a huge demand for purely electric diggers whereby when working in hospital grounds, on school premises or in urban city areas, the noise of a diesel or petrol engine machine is less than favourable for health and noise reasons.

ELECTRIC DIGGERS COMING ON THE MARKET SOON

Manufacturers of construction machinery are constantly researching and conjuring up new ideas for the next best thing. Some of those ideas pass through and enter the market, others sadly stay locked away. 

Keeping up to date with the competition, Volvo announced in August of this year, that they are carrying out their first site trials testing their new electric compact excavator. The Volvo ECR25 Electric has 48V lithium-ion batteries and an electric motor that powers the hydraulics, which allows the machine and its attachments to move. This machine once fully charged will output 8 hours of use. 

CHARGING ELECTRIC DIGGERS

Electric diggers can be charged much the same as electric cars. You have one cable that plugs into a special socket on the digger from one end and the other end plugs into a 230 volt domestic electricity supply. However, note that going forward each electric machine may have varying requirements with regards to charging. As such this information would come with the manufacturer’s manual.

LONDON’S LOW EMISSION ZONE FOR NON-ROAD MOBILE MACHINERY

The government and various authorities are pro low emissions more so now, than they ever have been previously. The ULEZ is already in place and for vehicle owners who do not meet the set out requirements, a daily fee of £12.50 on top of the London Congestion Charge in central London applies. 

The Mayor of London has already introduced new standards to reduce emissions produced by the construction industry. This is as part of the Control of Dust and Emissions.

Other areas of the country including Oxford now have Low Emission Zones, and other councils are starting to wake up and follow lead. 

It’s only a matter of time before this will apply in certain areas to construction machinery. Adding a cost of £12.50 or possibly more per day when working on long-term projects can wrack up quite a bill. 

STILL NOT SURE ABOUT ELECTRIC DIGGERS?

Check out the Fully Charged YouTube channel, whereby Robert Llwellyn actually experiences the new fully electric 1 tonne digger. 

WHEN CAN I BUY A SECOND HAND ELECTRIC DIGGER?

All of the diggers sold through our team here at Buy A Digger come direct from both H.E. SERVICES (Plant Hire) Ltd and Diggerland UK Theme Parks. The machines that both of these companies use are purchased new every three years or so. Both companies are looking to expand their fleet in order to include hybrid or fully electric diggers, so you should be able to purchase one of these from us at Buy A Digger within the next 3-5 years. 

In the meantime, you can buy a Komatsu, from a mini digger PC14 up to a PC 360 SLF. If you prefer to buy a JCB, we have everything from a JCB Hydradig to a JCB 3CX all at very reasonable prices. 

GET IN TOUCH WITH THE TEAM

You can view all of the machinery available at Buy A Digger via our machines web page. Be sure to sign up to our newsletter whilst visiting our website and be the first to hear of our exclusive construction machinery special offers. 

You can also meet the team prior to buying machinery from us. 

Call us on: 01634 779123 

Email us on: mail@buyadigger.com

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