Volvo offers biodegradable fluids as a factory supplied option throughout its product range. The company has additionally taken many preventative measures to ensure hydraulic oil spillages are reduced to a minimum. The axle oil cooler found under the skin of the company’s large wheel loaders is but one example of responsible manufacturing, which translates into cost savings for the end user.
That responsibility extends much further than simply providing the customer with fluid options. Volvo takes great care to source components and materials that do not harm the environment. Paint applied to equipment is powder or water-based to reduce solvent emissions in most instances. Mercury, cadmium and asbestos is not used at all. Only CFC free refrigerant R134a is contained within air conditioning systems. Moreover, 95% of materials can be recycled. Engines and transmissions are remanufactured, while other components provide value when used as spare parts. Elsewhere, iron and steel, polymers, plastics, rubber, glass, electric components and batteries can all be recycled.
Equally important to minimizing environmental impact is how equipment provides energy savings. Machinery has to have the right equilibrium of hydraulic power versus fuel consumption to be effective in the field. Volvo achieves that balance through a load sensing hydraulic system that only uses the precise amount of oil needed at the pressure required, thereby reducing fuel usage. The system is common throughout the OEM’s product range – from large motor graders right down to the smallest excavator. Not all manufacturers can claim the same. And certain lines feature a hydraulically driven fan that cools the engine based on requirements not speed. Again, this helps save fuel.
One of the beauties of load sensing hydraulics is it means an operator does not have to run equipment at full rpm. That, say the experts, is the single biggest tip to maximizing machine life without destroying the surrounding environment. Operators should be encouraged to try and run machinery between the 1,600 and 1,800 rpm range, depending on the product. Back off rpm and let the high torque capability of today’s generation of engine do its job means more work on less fuel. Volvo considers this so important that it optimized the air conditioning/compressor ratio on its grader line to be most efficient at 1,600 rpm instead of the full throttle tactic employed by others.
All of this technology, processes, systems and components add up to one thing: a commitment to protecting the world we live in. Volvo lists quality, safety and care for the environment as its core values. The evidence suggests it is going above and beyond to do that.