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“More important than what it costs is what it delivers.” A fair comment once made by an entrepreneur. He realised early on that major investments can be smart if they pay off down the line. He did not have to think long before purchasing a zero emission machine. Of course, he was also aware of the drawbacks at first glance. What about the limited charging capacity, operating time and power output? And perhaps most importantly: what is the price tag on electrification?
Many concerns about electric machines stem from a lack of knowledge and a fear of change. They often have their roots in outdated information, which can be misleading for many people. But on the flip side, a different conclusion can also be drawn. Working with a zero emission construction equipment is ultimately much better for business and for the environment. So let’s take a look at each of these concerns and see if we can’t dispel some of the misconceptions.
Just ask any construction company or independent contractor in the building, infrastructure and green sectors. They will inevitably mention the loading capacity required as their greatest concern or preconception. Working electric requires a slightly different set-up at the workplace or building site. More electricity is needed than is customary and currently available. In order to be able to charge up during lunch breaks and at night, there needs to be adequate power sources. That requires the right preparation. The fact that Boels is hiring out more and more electric machines is proof of the growing demand for them. It also demonstrates that a lot of users are able to quickly adapt to electric charging. This is partially because Boels provides them with advice and assistance in setting up the charging structure. You can read more about this in this article.
In practice it appears that many electrical machines are not actually being used continuously. Unlike a fuel engine an electric motor is truly switched off. So the idle time doesn’t come at the expense of the operating time.
Plenty of tools
There are already many tools and solutions available. This allows for a suitable loading capacity to be achieved in virtually any situation. One example includes Stage V generators that can run entirely on biofuels such as HVO and GTL. Another alternative is using (mobile) battery packs. These deliver power without any emissions, noise or exhaust gases, making them ideal for jobs in dense urban areas. They can be charged on location. For instance, using (mobile) solar panels, a zero emission generator or simply a standard building connection. Portable conversion kits are also becoming increasingly popular. Boels is closely following all of these developments. The technologies are embraced as soon as they are mature and affordable enough. In short, there is no need for ‘charging stress’ at all, and companies actually stand to gain by working with zero emission machines.
Another frequently mentioned concern is limited operating time. It is impossible to work for an entire day with an electric machine. It takes too much time to recharge in between, for example at lunchtime. These were fair criticisms of the first generation of ‘wet’ lead-acid batteries, but these have long since been replaced by the ‘dry’ lithium ion battery in the latest machines. This battery is more powerful, more durable and weighs less. Most importantly, it also has a much higher energy density. That means it can provide adequate power for longer. Boels offers a 2.2 tonne wheel loader or a 1.9 tonne mini excavator that easily gets through an eight-hour work day.
Moreover, in practice it appears that many electrical machines are not actually being used continuously. They are generally at work for 4 to 5 hours at most and the rest of the time they are on stand-by. Unlike a fuel engine, which still consumes power, an electric motor is truly switched off. So the idle time doesn’t come at the expense of the operating time. That’s something to consider when looking at the specifications of a particular machine. How long is it actually used on a daily basis?
The third concern has to do with power. Allegedly, electric machines have much less power than diesel motors. This was in fact true of the first electric machines. But those days are long gone. Modern electrical construction equipment is very good at performing tasks that require a lot of power in a short amount of time. Take the electric G2200E X-TRA that can be hired from Boels. This 2.2 tonne shovel has two separate electric motors. The first has 6.5 kW of power for the drive and the second is a 12 kW motor for the hydraulics. So there is always plenty of power available. This is evident in its lifting height of 2.45 metres and tipping load of 2,200 kg.
In short: it is at least as powerful and perhaps even more powerful than its diesel motor predecessor. So it more than meets all the requirements. The new G2200E X-TRA is in high demand.
And the final bone of contention is price. Yes it’s true – a zero emission machine still has a higher rental price than its fuel-powered counterpart. Not surprising, of course. Not many of them are being produced at this point, development is ongoing and batteries are still expensive. For the time being, this means a higher purchase price. But as the smart entrepreneur pointed out – ultimately, it all comes down to the return on investment. And at the end of the day, using a zero emission machine is comparable to using a fuel machine.
Electricity is cheaper than diesel, which is certainly expensive now. Maintenance is much cheaper. There are fewer moving parts that need less lubrication. There is also no need to change filters and oil (except for the hydraulic oil). And the service life of an electric drive is much longer while it also works more quietly and cleaner to boot. That means that it can also be used without any problems inside buildings, halls and so on. Another important factor nowadays is that it can also be used to help win tenders.
Buy, hire or lease?
Those interested in working with electric machines should carefully consider what offers them the most advantages. Is it for a short-term project or needed for a longer period of time? What will it be – buying, hiring or leasing? Hiring offers flexibility and the opportunity to find out how everything works. On top of that, it quickly becomes clear what kind of an impact it will have on the workplace or building site. In other words, perfect for short-term projects. Boels is happy to help with focused, expert advice. Leasing offers the chance to diversify financially. Buying is still the most popular option.