Thousands of excavator operators across China are expected to compete in Operator Idol 2014, Volvo CE’s nationwide ‘eco-operator’ contest.
Volvo CE rises to the challenge with its new EWR150E short tail swing wheeled excavator.
Designed for city use, the new excavator boasts the shortest swing radius in this weight class of any Stage IV machines on the market and is already receiving positive feedback from prospective customers. Developed at Volvo CE’s Konz facility in Germany, the EWR150E fills the niche for a short tail machine for the urban environment.
Combining the best features of both the EW140D and the EW160E with state-of-the-art qualities of its own, a key feature of the new EWR150E wheeled excavator is the machine’s short swing radius of just 1,720mm. This allows the operator to work safely in confined areas, particularly narrow single-lane roads, without interfering with traffic.
All this has been achieved without compromising on reach, lifting or digging performance. With an impressive 8.7m digging reach using the 2.45m arm, the machine has outstanding lifting capacity and offers improved stability compared to a conventional excavator in this class.
One of the key elements of the design that makes all this possible is that the engine is now at the back of the machine.
“It took some lateral thinking on our behalf to see how we could locate the engine and cooling system and put it behind the cabin,” explains Volvo CE technical product manager Peter Bauer, central to the machine’s design team.
“Importantly, when the 150 swings round to work on a road or pavement, the back of the machine stays on one side of the road and leaves the traffic in the lane on the other side unimpaired.
“Moving the engine to the back also improves visibility, particularly on the operator’s right-hand side, and thereby improves safety. This configuration results in less noise around the cabin as the engine and cooling system are at the back.”
Developed in close cooperation with customers, the design and features have been refined through customer clinics and in the field by test operators across Europe.
Priority has also been given to the operator experience. The cabin layout and the hydraulics are designed to give operators a feeling they have ‘come home’. Operators can also bring all their tools along with them in a special tool-box drawer that slides out from the undercarriage. This is a new feature and can carry up to 120kg. There is also further storage inside the cab, as well as ample leg room.
The EWR150E has been designed with ease of servicing in mind. As soon as the machine is started, it automatically checks all fluid levels on board, including engine oil and hydraulic fluid, and alerts the operator on the electronic display should attention be required.
The boom suspension system with hydraulic circuit and gas pressure dampers means the operator can travel faster over rough terrain, while the overall hydraulic system has also been improved for greater responsiveness.
Put through its paces in Krefeld, Germany, by cable-laying contractor Gebr. Kickartz GmbH, on-site manager Thorsten Bargatsky was immediately impressed by the construction quality of the EWR150E.
Stability and maneuverability also passed the test, while the overall look and design is “pleasing” and has a “feel-good factor”, says Bargatsky.
“The short swing radius is clearly a major benefit, enabling us to work in a tight residential environment without obstructing traffic,” he explains. “Our operators are very happy with the maneuverability and reach of the 150. They often use the blade as an additional stabilizer when lifting, which further increases safety and stability.
Running a fleet of 22 mobile excavators, Kickartz is well positioned to appreciate the machine’s qualities.
“There is more and more work for us in green zones in cities and we are finding that the environmental standards and requirements in municipal contracts are constantly being raised,” says Bargatsky. “When buying new machines it is necessary to anticipate future norms and standards from the authorities. The emissions performance of the Stage IV engines make these machines potentially a good long-term investment for us.”
Volvo CE global product manager Marc Engels explains that the new machine is effectively a short tail version of the 140 model with the weight of the 160 model, and fills an important gap in the market.
“The 150 offers many welcome features in terms of maneuverability and visibility for the operator,” he says. “The operator benefits from its performance, and it is very competitive price-wise.”
Matthias Maehler, sales representative at Volvo CE distributor Swecon, is receiving positive customer feedback about the machine. Of particular importance is the power and low-emissions capability of the Stage IV engine.
“This engine is already latest generation technology compared to the competition,” says Maehler. “For us, the new short tail mobile excavator is an opportunity to approach new customers and offer a practical machine for working in more restricted environments.”
The Stage IV Volvo engine in the 150 uses V-ACT technology, which provides high torque at low engine speeds to lower fuel consumption.
Peter Grünenwald, of Volvo CE dealership Robert Aebi GmbH, also highlights the value of Volvo’s intelligent ECO mode, which can reduce the urban excavator’s environmental impact and meet the latest emission requirements.
The machine is likely to receive the operator vote, too. “The design of the Volvo cab offers outstanding visibility for the operator, while all machine interfaces, including the joysticks, keypad and large LCD monitor, are ergonomically positioned,” says Grünenwald.
The EWR150E can be specified with one of two undercarriage types, tailoring the weight and drawbar
pull of the machine to any application. The lightest possible configuration weighs 15.1 tonnes and features a welded undercarriage with a radial blade and an EW140-class drivetrain.
The heaviest configuration weighs 17.9 tonnes and offers a bolted undercarriage with a parallel blade, bolted outriggers and EW160-class drivetrain for a 30% higher drawbar pull.
The robust excavator axles with automatic or operator-controlled front-axle oscillation are highly durable, as is the undercarriage, which protects itself through high ground clearance and is strong enough to endure tough environments.
The machine is also compatible with a wide range of attachments. With tiltrotators and quick couplers, durable buckets and breakers, not only can the machine work in tight spaces, but it can dig, load, break and move material in the most efficient and productive way. Customers can choose from 12 different tire configurations (including single and twin), according to ground conditions. The machine is approved for road use and can be fitted with a trailer hitch that can pull up to eight tonnes with over-run brakes and three tonnes without brakes.
The ultimate project demands the ultimate operators. Spirit goes behind the scenes to meet the experts working on one of the largest and most complex road building projects in the world.