Construction Equipment Technology
An important part of many industrial operations over the past century has been construction equipment. Companies like Caterpillar, Case, Komatsu and Deere have made continuous advancements in the capabilities and safety features of these machines, making them the useful tools they are today.
These same heavy equipment manufacturers continue to develop new machines with improved features aimed at:
- Lowering maintenance costs
- Decreasing operation costs
- Increasing machine versatility
- Improving machine efficiency and reliability
In the years ahead, construction equipment manufacturers will likely be focusing more on improvements in areas like:
- Increased fuel efficiency
- Energy conservation
- Decreased harmful emissions
- Development and implementation of new machine technologies
Hydraulics – Construction equipment such as excavators, backhoes and loaders rely on hydraulics to lift, load / unload and move materials and objects. New hydraulic technologies are emerging, optimizing both hydraulic flow and pressure including the ability to modulate both. As these improvements are introduced, the efficiency and versatility of the equipment will continue to improve.
Engine – Many construction machines are equipped with diesel engines because they are efficient and reliable. Many improvements to engine controls, fuel injection systems and the engine combustion process are in the works and aim to increase fuel efficiency while decreasing the amount of harmful emissions released into the air.
Computer Systems – Computer systems are being integrated into some new models of construction equipment and will continue to be utilized even more in the future. Computer systems are being used to remotely monitor machine operation, analyze fuel efficiency, control hydraulics, report machine performance and more.
Hybrid Construction Equipment
Hybrid technology has come a long way since hybrid cars were first introduced. Similar hybrid technologies are being used for heavy equipment equipped with diesel engines.
We are already seeing the introduction of hybrid excavators and hybrid bulldozers. The released hybrids are the first and second generations of hybrid construction equipment and offer many advantages including:
- Dramatically increased fuel efficiency
- Fuel savings of a 20-ton machine reaching 25% as compared to non-hybrid models is not uncommon.
- Recovery and reuse of energy
- Reduction in carbon emissions
- Decreased operating costs
- Reduced maintenance
- Increased machine life
The first hybrid-drive, heavy equipment, construction vehicle was released by Komatsu in 2008. The hybrid excavator was a huge success and many valuable lessons were learned, ushering in newer and improved generations of hybrid equipment.
The third generations of hybrids in the construction field are underway and will likely offer even more impressive advantages for hybrid machine owners.
Future of Construction Equipment
Hybrid technology will most likely be the most dramatic improvements made to construction equipment. However, technologies and advancements are being developed for individual equipment types.
For example, improved hydraulics for excavators and backhoes, which improve lifting capabilities and efficiency, or redesigned bulldozers with increased earth moving power.
The future of construction equipment will likely follow a theme. That theme being “environmentally friendly”, aided in part by emissions regulations set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This means cleaner air, more cost efficient operation and improved fuel efficiency.