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A hybrid diesel-electric wheel loader is just one of the innovations currently being developed to cut vehicle emissions.

Wheel loader manufacturers are constantly striving to limit vehicle emissions. Most have focused on new engine technology – partly through voluntary improvements and partly because of new emissions regulations in many parts of the world, but principally North America and the European Union.
However, Volvo Construction Equipment is going several steps further. In the past year, the group has unveiled various elements of its electric site research project, which aims to transform bulk materials handling, notably in the quarry and aggregates industries.
At the Xploration Forum in September 2016, Volvo showcased the LX1, a prototype electric hybrid wheel loader, alongside the firstgeneration of the prototype HX load carrier (HX1). In March this year, the HX2 second-generation load carrier was unveiled.
The electric site research project aims to reduce carbon emissions by up to 95% and total cost of ownership by as much as 25%. It would achieve these objectives by electrifying a transport stage in a quarry – from excavation to primary crushing and transport to secondary crushing. This not only involves developing new machines, but also affects work methods and site management systems, which together form a complete site solution.
Fuel efficiency
The LX1 wheel loader can deliver up to a 50% improvement in fuel efficiency, as well as significant reductions in emissions and noise pollution compared with its conventional counterparts, claims Volvo. It is currently being field-tested in the US by a customer, Waste Management, the largest environmental services and recycling company in North America.  So far, feedback has been positive, says Volvo.
The LX1 is a ‘series hybrid’ that incorporates a driveline consisting of electric drive motors mounted at the wheels, electric driven hydraulics, an energy storage system, a significantly smaller diesel engine and new machine architecture, including a new design of the lifting unit. It is this combination that enables the substantial gain in fuel-efficiency. The prototype, which has 98% new parts and a fundamentally new machine design, can do the work of a wheel loader one size larger, adds Volvo.
In addition to the LX1 and HX2, a further prototype machine to makeup the electric site system is a gridconnected excavator.
Since the unveiling of the HX1 load carrier, Volvo’s engineers have been developing the machine. Although similar on the outside, the firm says it has made significant changes to the inside.
“The HX2 is fundamentally different to the HX1,” says Uwe Müller, Volvo CE’s chief project manager for the electric site project. “The HX1 was proof of concept. Once we knew it was feasible, we updated the design requirements for the HX2 to incorporate shared technologies and components from the Volvo Group, such as electric motors, batteries and power electronics.”
Integrating a completely new drivetrain was crucial to take full advantage of the electro mobility developments that are happening inside the Volvo Group, he added. Another new feature is the addition of a vision system that allows the machine to detect humans and obstacles in its vicinity.
Volvo teamed up with its customer Skanska Sweden, the Swedish Energy Agency and two Swedish universities – Linköping and Mälardalen – in October 2015 to collaborate on the project. Volvo CE is coordinating the project and is in charge of developing the machines and systems.
Skanska Sweden provides logistical solutions, application relevance and job site knowledge. The Swedish Energy Agency is helping to fund the project, and the universities are carrying out research. Two PhD students are looking at battery ageing and energy management for electric vehicles, as well as functional safety.
Skanska Sweden will incorporate the demonstration machines into its operations and test the electric site concept at a quarry in western Sweden for 10 weeks at the end of 2018. After this, Volvo will examine the project results to see if the concept is viable for industry. Currently, the work is just a research project, with no plans for industrialisation at this stage.
“Volvo CE is committed to pushing boundaries and exploring the technology of the future,” says Jenny Elfsberg, director of emerging technologies at Volvo CE. “The HX2 and the electric site project demonstrate how Volvo CE wants to work with its customers early in the development phase to improve total site performance and sustainability, while also saving customers money.
“By integrating customers in the development process, we can design the best solution for a task, application and environment together. The concepts being developed in the electric site research project are part of Volvo CE’s longterm future vision, and they have the potential to transform the quarry and aggregates industry,” adds Elfsberg.
“By using electricity instead of diesel to power equipment, we have the potential to deliver significant reductions in fuel consumption, CO2 emissions, environmental impact and cost-per-tonne. The electrification of construction equipment will produce cleaner, quieter and more efficient machines – this represents the future of our industry.”
Tier 4 models
In the meantime, other loader suppliers have introduced new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Tier 4 compliant models. Komatsu launched its WA270-8 wheel loader last year. Equipped with a Tier 4 Final certified engine, the new unit combines high production with low fuel consumption and improved operator comfort, the manufacturer says.
The WA270-8’s parallel-lift linkage, with auto tilt-in to simulate a Z-bar, can be used in virtually any application, from pallet handling to hard digging, the firm claims. Fuel consumption is lower by up to 3% in V-cycle loading and 2% in load-and-carry applications.
A 6.69-litre engine uses up to 3% less fuel than its EPA Tier 4 Interim predecessor. The Komatsu Diesel Particulate Filter (KDPF) and other after treatment components are designed into the engine’s construction.
A selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system reduces NOx emissions and is designed to last the life of the engine. More than 98% of KDPF regeneration is performed passively, with no action required by the operator and no interference with machine operation.
A hydrostatic drivetrain with variable traction control and S-mode provides better traction control to reduce wheel slip, while S-mode is ideal for snowy, icy or slippery conditions, adds the manufacturer. Creep mode in first gear is easily controlled via a knob on the RH console. This mode allows the operator to dial in travel speed from one to eight mph.
A new, more comfortable, high-back, heated seat softens machine vibrations for operators. While a Komtrax telematics system and monitor provides key machine metrics, including KDPF status and DEF-level data, fuel consumption, plus performance information collected and sorted by operator ID, autoidle shutdown reduces idle time and saves fuel.
Doosan line-up
Doosan has extended its wheel loader line-up with the DL220-5. Also Tier 4-compliant, the DL220-5 has a 2.3 m3 capacity bucket.
Replacing the DL220-3 model, the 160hp DL220-5 is claimed to provide greater productivity. The DL220-5 is driven by a powershift transmission. The fully automatic transmission, with three selectable transmission modes, uses a vehicle control unit (VCU), which means the engine’s computer and transmission control system constantly communicate with each other to reduce fuel consumption.
The wheel loader falls in the 150-175hp size class, and is powered by a DL06 diesel engine without the need for a diesel particulate filter (DPF).
Like its predecessor, the DL220-5 is manufactured with a standard Z-bar lift-arm linkage, and Doosan claims it is ideal for scooping, loading, carrying and general construction tasks.
For operators requiring additional dumping capabilities, the DL220-5 is available, forthe first time in this model, with a high-lift Z-bar configuration,  extending the dumpheight 18 inches above the  standard DL220-5. This configuration is ideal for loading material into high-sided trucks or high hoppers, building stockpiles or handling solid waste.
Cab enhancements include a better, adjustable steering column to provide more leg room, ease of operation and more floor space. Also inside the cab, a new fuel consumption gauge tells operators how much fuel the wheel loader is using in real time. Updates to the keypad on the dashboard make it easier for operators to push buttons, review and adjust settings, and clean and maintain the keypads.
Better view
Visibility within the cab and around the wheel loader has also been improved. Two rear LED lamps, working more efficiently than the prior lamps, provide better rear visibility when working at night. Lastly, an adjustable sun visor allows operators to limit direct sunlight inside the wheel loader cab for improved operating conditions.
Ease-of-maintenance updates from the DL220-3 to the DL220-5 include additional oil sampling ports to improve preventive maintenance procedures. In addition, various fluid pressures are now viewable from the dash panel, allowing monitoring from the cab.
An adjustable auto-shutdown feature helps operators save fuel during non-working conditions. Operators can configure the idle time before auto shutdown, from three to 60 minutes. When enabled, the feature will shut down the wheel loader’s diesel engine when the pre-set idle time is met.
Uptime protection features include a fuel filter separator with double filtration that is easily accessible behind metal panels that protect internal components. The engine air cleaner prevents abrasive  particulate matter from entering the cylinders. Thick wheel loader lift-arm plates provide strength without sacrificing visibility, and the plates, chassis and joints have been analysed using finite element techniques to confirm the components’ durability.
With this standard feature, the new loader has more traction when digging, grading or loading trucks. Limited-slip differentials help with these tasks and come standard on the DL220-5 wheel loader. To manoeuvre in tough terrain, the limited-slip differential allows the wheel with the most traction to receive the proper torque, providing superior tractive effort to ensure operators can keep working, even on soft or wet ground conditions.
Greater operator comfort is a key benefit claimed for CASE Construction Equipment’s seven-model G-Series range. CASE says the G-Series loaders deliver the highest possible levels of visibility and control.
“We are soon marking the 60th anniversary of CASE Construction Equipment wheel loaders,” says Alain de Nanteuil, EMEA wheel loader product manager. “Through the years, every generation has introduced new innovations and capabilities, and this all-new G-Series generation of CASE Construction Equipment wheel loaders is the biggest leap forward.”
As drivers can spend many hours a day in the machine, cab comfort and the working environment are essential components of a productive machine, according to CASE. Improvements to the G-Series cab include a full-width panoramic windscreen, a colourful Premium Control interface with 8-inch display, fully adjustable seat-mounted control console, the security of a password-protected ignition, and the ease of automatic bucket functions, adjustable from within the cab. The operator also benefits from smooth, low-effort loader controls, an active suspension seat and hands-free mobile phone connectivity.
Building upon the popular CASE F-Series cab, the G-Series loaders have a one piece curved front screen that provides a view from side to side, from the ground to the sky. This is complemented by a slim engine cover, heated rear window and multiple rear view mirrors.
Noise control
In-cab noise levels are a full 2 dB lower than the previous generation of machines. The 521G to 821G loaders boast just 68 dB in the cab, while the 921G to 1121G have noise levels set at just 69 dB, the lowest internal levels yet seen on a CASE loader, the company says. The cabs benefit from improved primary and recirculation air filtration, with longer filter replacement intervals. High effectiveness and active carbon filters can also be supplied for tough working conditions.
The operator control interface in the G-Series wheel loader cab is easy to use, contributing to improved controllability and productivity. The 8-inch colour display is easy to read, regardless of external light conditions, and provides a wide view rear monitor when required.
There is a new control pad for automatic bucket functions to be set and adjusted from within the cab. The seat mounted console is fully adjustable and features a wide armrest and ergonomic joystick that, combined with electro-hydraulic controls and the redesigned active suspension seat, delivers accurate control in all working conditions.
A joystick steering option provides two equally sized joysticks with wide armrests on both sides of the seat. Joystick steering features speed proportional sensitivity, with three settings that allow the operator to perfectly match the machine to every operation and jobsite requirement.

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