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Executive Report : Electrifying Bauma
This year’s big Bauma construction equipment exhibition revealed a significant number of pre-production and concept machines. Who better to check them out than Consultant Plant Editor, Nick Johnson?
Held every three years at the Munich exhibition centre in Germany, the seven-day Bauma construction equipment show was bigger than ever this April. Utilising all the venue’s 18 main halls and every bit of the outside area usually deployed for car parking, it provided an overall exhibition space of 614,000m² for some 3,700 exhibitors from 63 countries. And it attracted a record attendance of over 620,000 visitors.
Being able to see some very innovative equipment rewarded those people who made the trip. Electric compact excavators were much in evidence, with concept machines shown by both established makers of this equipment and engine/component suppliers such as Cummins and Dana.
Yanmar brought over a concept electric mini excavator to Europe from Japan especially for Bauma. Displayed in operation within a special 6.0m by 6.0m cube, aptly called the eCubator, this 1.0-tonne class machine was itself designated the eFuzion - a name combining ‘e’ for electric and ‘Fu’ for the future. Equipped with two packs of Lithium-ion batteries, the eFuzion uses electrical actuators rather than hydraulic cylinders to operate its boom, dipper arm and bucket. It has been developed by Yanmar’s robotics research team to show how autonomous construction machinery may operate in the future.
Within the eCubator, the all-electric eFuzion was started by wireless remote control before it worked autonomously. It amazed onlookers by being able to work by itself to select red balls from a box of red and white balls to build up the Yanmar logo composed of red balls in another box. The clever machine has now returned to Japan for further development.
Takeuchi has been a pioneer of electric mini excavator development and it revealed its latest model: the 1.8-tonne class TB220e. It comes as standard with a 25kWh Lithium-ion battery that is claimed to deliver the same performance as the 1,770kg TB216 diesel version.
Another newcomer from Takeuchi was the more conventional 6,710kg TB370 powered by a 42.4kW (57.7hp) Kubota diesel engine. Both new models will be shown at Plantworx in June.
As predicted, Komatsu used Bauma to unveil its first all-electric compact excavator. It exhibited a 4,730kg machine that is powered by the same easy-maintenance battery used in the manufacturer’s FE-series electric forklift trucks.
Volvo’s dynamic duo
Amid much excitement, Volvo dramatically uncovered two new electric compact machines on the second morning of the Show. They comprised the 2.5-tonne ECR25 Electric mini excavator and
the 4.9-tonne L25 Electric compact wheel loader - the latter due to appear at Plantworx. This duo demonstrates the company’s future intention to replace diesel engines with electric motors in its EC15 to EC27 mini excavators and L20 to L28 compact wheel loaders from mid 2020.
Other electric concept mini excavators were unveiled by Hitachi and Kobelco. The former showed a 1.9-tonne ZE19 mini (being developed in conjunction with KTEG), whilst the latter highlighted a 1.7-tonne 17SR electric mini, which is the result of a collaboration with engine maker Deutz.
Two new environmentally-friendly compact machines were prominent on the Kubota stand. These included a prototype 1,755kg KX019-4 LPG-powered mini excavator and a 700kg-capacity KC70-4e electric mini crawler dumper (which is a badge-engineered Hinowa product). Both these machines will be first shown in the UK at Plantworx.
More small electric dumpers were also in evidence. Ausa showed its prototype 1.0-tonne payload D100AHA wheeled site dumper that is being tested on-site in Paris and is likely to go into production next year. And Morooka unveiled an interesting version of its small rotating-top MST-200VDR tracked carrier. Brought into Europe especially for Bauma, the concept electric version of this small 2,000kg-payload Morooka tracked carrier is equipped with 29kWh Lithium-ion batteries. The machine on show had a guidance track on the ground designed for use on sites with a regular haul route.
In the past, site dumpers with the operator behind the skip have moved up in size to compete against the smallest articulated dump trucks (ADTs), such as the 10-tonne payload Hydrema 912. Now this Danish company has moved the ADT concept down in size with the Bauma launch of the new 6.5-tonne payload 707G.
Developed to capitalise on the move towards dumpers with better forward visibility, the 707G ADT has a front-mounted cab with forward-facing seat and controls. Set to have its UK launch at Plantworx, this newcomer has a Stage V emissions-compliant Cummins F3.8 engine and a Sauer Danfoss hydrostatic transmission. It features a low, easy-entry cab, a low centre of gravity and the ability to ride on 700/40x22.5 low ground pressure tyres to facilitate operation on boggy terrain.
Electric drive is starting to find its way into small telescopic handlers and, at Bauma, Manitou revealed a prototype electric version of its popular MT625. With a maximum capacity of 2,500kg and a 5.85m maximum lift height, the ‘Oxygen Concept’ compact MT625e gains intuitive operator aids, while greater use has been made of natural, sustainable materials such as wood inside the cab. Said to provide plenty of torque, the MT625e is now undertaking an extensive series of site trials.
Other small telescopic handlers with the latest low emission diesel engines were shown at Bauma by Dieci, Genie and Tobroco-GiANT. Of particular interest was the unveiling of what will become Dieci’s smallest model. Slotting in under the existing Apollo 26.6, the forthcoming Apollo 20.4 will provide a maximum capacity of 2,000kg and a maximum lift height of 4.32m.
Having previously pioneered the introduction of three-wheeled electric mini dumpers, Ecovolve from Ireland unveiled its new EL500 battery-powered mini loader at Bauma. This 978mm-wide machine weighs 1,300kg and has a maximum safe load of 500kg. All its three wheels are driven and steering achieved using the tiller control on the rear wheel. •