BY RICHARD LEVINGS
The construction industry is seeing the beginnings of change. Electrical equipment is starting to gain traction in many parts of the world. While worldwide transition may be slow, the benefits of electric equipment will loom large in the future.
Many cities around the world already have regulations in place that will limit or ban the use of diesel-powered cars in the coming years. And now some cities are eyeing similar regulations to reduce the use of diesel-powered construction equipment. In Oslo, Norway, for example, a new procurement strategy has led to nearly zero-emissions building sites.
However, contractors shouldn’t only consider a shift to using electric equipment as a matter of compliance. Electric equipment can deliver many on-the-job benefits – from quieter and safer worksites, to enhanced equipment performance.
The value that each contractor can realize from electric equipment will depend on their unique business challenges and jobsite requirements. But there are some common benefits that every contractor can expect to gain from using electric equipment.
Traditional diesel-powered auger boring machines generate exhaust and diesel fumes. And because the machines are typically used in sub-surface environments, these fumes can create health and safety concerns for workers.
In some jobs, a contractor may need to limit the amount of time operators can spend underground because of exposure to fumes. In addition, the contractor may need to use special equipment to monitor air quality and cycle fresh air down to the pit. Of course, this can slow down work and add extra costs and logistics to a project.
An electric auger boring machine has no emissions. It allows crews to do their jobs without worrying about breathing in fumes or having to step away from the jobsite for health reasons. An electric option also saves costs by reducing the need for air-monitoring or circulation equipment.
The loud whir of equipment is a mainstay on any construction site – and too often a factor that limits when a contractor can work. That’s because many cities have noise ordinances in place that only allow crews to run their equipment during certain hours of the day.
Electric auger boring machines are significantly quieter than their diesel-powered counterparts, allowing contractors to work longer on jobsites, with less risk of violating ordinances.
One of the biggest benefits operators have with an electric auger boring machine is the ability to step off the machine and control it from somewhere else.
With wireless remote control, operators can get off the rig or even out of the pit to operate the machine. This can give them more freedom of movement and better visibility through all machine operations.
Also, while noise and vibration are significantly reduced with an electric auger boring machine, they’re not eliminated. Being able to control the machine remotely can reduce on-machine distractions while operators work.
From a performance standpoint, contractors will appreciate the greater versatility that an electric boring machine can bring to a job.
First, an electric machine gives operators the freedom to adjust speed and torque according to what the job requires. On traditional machines, torque and speed are tied together and determined by the operator’s chosen gear. But an electric machine can achieve full torque instantly. This allows operators to balance torque and speed based on soil conditions.
Second, an electric machine can meet a wider range of job demands than a traditional machine.
For example, diesel-powered machines are typically only rated for 0- to 20-degree angles because of a need to keep oil level in the machine. An electric machine doesn’t have this concern, allowing it to be used in high-angle applications. Also, as contractors in places like Canada have discovered, an electric machine is more reliable in extremely cold environments, where diesel-powered machines can struggle to start.
Regulations limiting the use of diesel-powered equipment won’t take effect for years, but they are coming. Because of this, contractors who are looking to invest in an auger boring machine today may want to take a long-term view with their investment.
Also, while regulations limiting diesel equipment may not be in effect today in most cities, the populations in many cities are largely wanting to see lower emissions in their communities. Contractors who can address this sentiment with solutions like electric machines may be able to strengthen the marketability of their business.
The Future Is Electric
From North America to Europe, early adopters of the industry’s first available electric auger boring machines are discovering how the machines can reduce their jobsite emissions and improve their operations. Today, that can be a competitive differentiator in the marketplace. Tomorrow, it will be the table stakes for doing business.