Fuelonomics Drive Developments
During the life cycle of engine operated equipment fuel is the single largest input to the equipment in terms of quantity and cost; so utmost importance is to substantially reduce the fuel cost with innovative design concepts, new technology and equipment performance management systems which will significantly enhance the fuel and energy efficiency of the equipment. Agith Antony trains its spotlight on some of the latest trends and initiatives by the CE industry.

Simply put, fuelonomic efficiency positively impacts profitability, enhances equipment brand preference and causes less air pollution. No wonder, the prime focus of manufacturers is to offer fuel efficient tier IV or V compliant engines, energy efficient power trains and hydraulics, internal energy regeneration features, hybrids and even fuel saving lubricants! These innovative but expensive developments need efficient aftermarket back up support by OEMs in their authorised dealers to develop confidence and acceptability.

According to Dimitrov Krishnan, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Volvo CE, India, for an equipment user 40-50 per cent of the cost is fuel; in some cases it even clocks above 55 per cent. Krishnan says ?Fuel efficiency is a major factor in the agenda of a contractor in construction and mining and obviously, fuel efficient engines and products are critical to this. Of course, engines are only one part as the rest of the equipment - the way it is designed; selection of components and subsystems, durability and the way it is operated and operating conditions etc can make a big difference to fuel efficiency.?

Shedding light on the changing buying pattern of end user segments he says, ?We see it as a key factor of buying criteria for a customer taking a job on his own. Many of the customers are talking about fuel efficiency in the early stage of discussion and trying to compare overall cost of operation including fuel cost before deciding on the equipment. Earlier when the customer were about to buy heavier equipment fuel cost has been a very high criterion. Now we are also starting to see the same criteria when they opt for smaller equipment too. In the case of rental operators it depends on the rental contract: if the contract includes fuel cost then fuel will be a major factor in determining the selection and profitability.?

Indian context
Fuel and energy efficiency in construction equipment is the latest industry trend in the global market. However, to what extent this can be said of India? According to Vijay Sharma, Executive Director, Terex Equipment in India, fuel efficient machines are not only going to be the trend but will also be a basic requirement for customers to select and invest in these machines. Construction equipment are meant for heavy workloads, rugged working conditions and long operating hours and this creates opportunities as well as challenges to meet fuel and energy efficiency equation. This has created need for highly fuel efficient machines that are capable of meeting such requirement and on the other hand maintain balance with customers buying budgets as without a doubt, these technologies will add to the purchase price of machines. Sharma adds, ?New innovations and improved technology undoubtedly require investment in R &D and skill up gradation and no compromise with quality. Such challenges get enhanced with increase in fuel prices, various environmental regulations and increasing raw material costs. So a perfect combination of handling such challenges and serving to Indian cost conscious buyers and meet their requirement will be required.?

?For any OEM, productivity, fuel efficiency and total cost of ownership are the most important factors for any construction equipment and the same is very much applicable even for the Indian market. As the Indian customers are more ?value driven?, than ?features driven?, it is all the more important that productivity and operating costs are at the optimum levels,? avers Ramesh Palagiri, Managing Director & CEO, Wirtgen India.

Amarnath Ramachandran, President, LeeBoy India had this to say. ?All trends which are global will be applicable in India as goals like a cleaner environment and fuel efficiency cannot be ignored. Currently, the applicability in India is poor as engines are yet to go fully electronic in the construction segment.? Says Wilfried Theissen, Managing Director, Putzmeister Concrete Machines, ?It is possible to implement such trends in India. However, it will need a strong support from the government with the stick and carrot. Carrots first to give sufficient incentives to the owners of less energy efficient equipment to get them changed; and stick to make sure that deadlines of implementations will be respected. There will be a strong lobby against it because many manufacturing companies don?t want to invest into the new technology required. However, we at Putzmeister are like always in the lead with our new stationary e-smart machines and our new generation truck pumps which drastically reduce hydraulic oil and truck fuel consumptions.?

Market scenario in construction equipment sector has evolved tremendously as CE industry is more concerned about fuel/energy efficient equipment and machinery. Says Tushar Mehendale, Managing Director, ElectroMech Material Handling Systems (India), ?As solutions providers, it is imperative that we design products that don?t just conform to, but exceed the fuel /energy efficiency standards. Even in India, the clients are becoming more aware, and in turn more demanding when it comes to fuel / energy efficiency. At ElectroMech, we believe in ?ethical? engineering, wherein we emphasise on design improvements that help the customer derive maximum value from the product. This could be in terms of improved energy efficiency, lower maintenance requirements and reduced total cost of ownership. According to Milind Bhuwad, Sales - Head, Bauer Equipment India reducing energy consumption on construction sites is important not only from an ecological perspective but also from an economic point of view: the lower the pollutant emissions and the costs for diesel fuel, the higher is the efficiency of a construction site.

Says Abjijeet Pai, Managing Director, Puzzolana Fabricators, ?India is a developing country and the focus is optimising the overall cost and improve the efficiency and reliability. Most of the OEMs are tirelessly finding ways and means to optimise the design of equipment and machinery for better productivity, longevity, and reduce the cost per tonne of production which has a bearing on achieving fuel efficiency. There is increased focus on automation, gradual shift towards higher capacity equipment that can bring down operating costs. Training in preventive maintenance and operation of equipment and plants also plays a vital role in this.?

Tech trends
Speaking about some of the technology trends to achieve fuel efficiency Sharma says, ?A lot of work is going on for fuel efficient machines in construction equipment industry across the globe. With introduction of turbochargers in engines, that not only downsizes the engine but also reduces the material cost directly without affecting engine output. Similarly intelligent hybrid hydraulic regenerative systems and fuel saving vane pump are developed which reduce energy wastage. Introduction of telematics and GPS systems have enabled to keep track and monitor about the vehicle and manage its optimum utilisation. It is very clear that such advanced technologies will definitely going to be add-ons in the vehicle cost and this challenge gets enhanced when serving to customers which are cost conscious.

According to Sharma backhoe technology used to revolve around reliability of its structure and ability to perform, as a machine, in different types of soil strata and working conditions. Therefore, issues like machining, fabrication, welding, selection and assembly of power train components like engine, axle, transmission, and hydraulic components, viz pumps, valves, hoses etc., were the topics of discussions at engineering shop floor. He says, ?Terex backhoe loaders are designed for fastest digging and loading cycle, and can cut through the toughest of strata with ease; equipped with Kirloskar engines which are robust and well accepted engines for India terrain. SmartUC hydraulics on the machines helps save fuel even when maximising work output.? Sharma adds, ?At Terex we are committed to deliver the customer best of their value and for this product development is continuous and ongoing process. We at Terex follow Bharat Stage (CEV) III and have achieved productivity and reliability of our product range on the basis of standards in parallel with customer need and requirement and continuously working for new technology development keeping our customer in focus.?

Says Krishnan, ?Engine technology is mostly electronically controlled; it is not just the engine but how the engine power is utilised in the equipment. For example in a hydraulic excavator how the hydraulic power is being utlised is a matter of concern. If the generated power is wasted, it can make the engine less efficient. At Volvo, we have come up with new technologies to improve hydraulic efficiency, hence the engine efficiency; ultimately it is power utilised by hydraulics driving the engine fuel efficiency. So we use less power on the hydraulics.?

Integrated solutions
OEMs today specify apparently contradictory requirements for their applications: it must be powerful while being very fuel efficient; it needs to be extremely rugged while at the same time being very precise and fast. The age-old universal demands of reliability remain, but new standards of flexibility, serviceability and power are now being set. Cost pressures remain high but not at the cost of compromising on safety and quality. Better controls, precise power management through integration of electronic controls is required in order to meet the demands placed on these applications.

The trend is towards integrated system solutions (increasing synergy between hydraulics and electronics in innovative ways) in design of new models or variants by OEMs. Says Krishnan, ?This is very much aligned the way we design our products. In today?s systems everything interacts quite heavily, we are trying to find the areas of saving fuel. For example in excavator technology, in past we had negative control system, the reaction time, where the change in hydraulic demand and the engine responding to it was much longer, whereas we use positive control systems by which we have been able to reduce the time taken between the engine control system to respond to the change in hydraulic demand, because of which we are able to quickly reduce the engine power consumed and hence the use fuel. So the integrated way is the only way forward. Today many of our equipment we have 3 or 4 more electronic control units interacting with different subsystems continuously. Either these units, - engine control, vehicle electronics, the air conditioning system, monitoring system - are interacting giving signal to the operator to do certain thing, or among themselves automatically try to make the required action. According to Theissen of Putzmeister, integrating different systems is absolutely essential. He says ?we have already taken the first major steps in our new eSmart product range.?

The hydraulics industry is making major strides in the efficiency and performance of its products. Hydraulics always has been the best choice for high power-intensive applications, but new designs, materials, and manufacturing technologies are extending that advantage like never before. These new components are destined to be a smaller piece reducing the footprint and enhancing the power density. The latest trends point to customers looking for the best usage of space, better power density, energy efficiency, accuracy and quicker responses. The marriage of hydraulics and electronics will deliver smarter products that combine the intelligence of electronics with the power density of hydraulics to enable all of these applications and many more futuristic ideas way ahead of time.

Subhasis Chatterjee, Managing Director - India, Hydraulics Group, Eaton explains. ?The electro-hydraulic solutions would bring on the table the benefits of mechanical muscle with electronics brain which deliver high reliability, guarantee specified uptimes and at the same time are quick, efficient, accurate, compact, safe, and repetitive and user friendly. He adds, ?Eaton?s ?Life Sense Hoses? which can be used in critical fuel conveying areas where time of hose-failures can be accurately predicted through continuous electronic monitoring and thereby saving the users from unforeseen break-downs of machines or pollution related penalties and above all saving big dollars by avoiding under-utilization of the hoses and replacing those much ahead of the due dates.

Says Ramachandran of Leeboy India, ?Integrated system solutions are not limited to hydraulics alone. The convergence between mechanical systems and electronics is a whole new subject - Mechatronics. As electronic controllers are used in fuel injection systems in engines, hybrid motor / engine controls, battery management systems, power distribution modules, continuously variable transmissions are areas which will dominate this segment in the near future.?

Industry initiatives
Speaking about the developments in the Volvo Group Krishnan says, ?The V-ACT engine represents new achievements in combustion efficiency and overall engine performance. With new fuel injection, air management technology and advanced electronics, the inherent potential of the V-ACT engine is then tailored by Volvo engineers to meet the specific performance criteria required by differing machine types and applications.? He explains the importance technology such as OptiShift to enhance productivity and optimize fuel efficiency. ?OptiShift is a unique technology consisting of two important features: a torque converter with lock-up and free wheel stator and Volvo?s patented Reverse By Braking (RBB) function. The combination of this technology has reduced fuel consumption by up to 15 per cent as well as increased machine performance in wheel loaders.?

Highlighting the technology in-built in its range of products Ramachandran had this to say. LeeBoy has already developed excavators, graders and backhoes with CRDI engines with Cummins (our sole engine partner) for Tier III and a road map for Tier IV. We have, like most global players, incorporated auto idle and auto shut off. On the powertrain, we use ZF ergo-power transmissions with electronic control units which are fully self-diagnostic and pre-programmed with interlocks to prevent misuse of the machine. All hydraulic systems are with variable volume axial piston pumps and post compensated load sensing valves from Casappa, Walvoil and Bosch Rexroth for backhoe loaders and motor graders and Kawasaki - Kayaba for excavators. These variable volume systems have very high efficiency as opposed to conventional open centre systems with gear pumps.? He adds,?We use programmable monitors from Murphy and Cobo and convert all analog inputs to digital and simulate a CAN environment for controllers. This is ported to Trimble diagnostic systems which help monitor and control parameters.?

Says Ramesh of Wirtgen, ?The challenge is to continuously innovate products and that is what we at Wirtgen group are doing and that is what is reflected in the products we offer to the market where the average age of machines is less than 2.5 years. With these continuous innovations we are able to bring new technologies to achieve our goal of offering products which meet the customer requirements in terms of productivity and operating costs. For example, our Kleemann EVO range of machines are equipped with Continuous Feed System (CFS) which enhances fuel efficiency and higher productivity. This system ensures continuous feed to the crusher, touch screen and cable less remote through which we can control all parameters of the crusher. These features are also available on our Vogele Dash 3 range of pavers.?

Speaking about the Vogele Dash 3 paver ? Super 2100-3 Palagiri avers, ?The machine is powered by an ultramodern liquid-cooled Cummins 6-cylinder diesel engine. The start-up and operating characteristics in the thin high-altitude air are extremely reliable thanks to the splitter gearbox of the Vogele ?EcoPlus package?. The innovative Vogele EcoPlus low-emissions package has a number of features that ensure low noise emissions and a substantial reduction in fuel consumption. All the hydraulic pumps needed for ?traction?, ?conveyors and augers? and ?compaction? are automatically disengaged if the paver is idle for more than one minute. The combination of an energy-optimised tamper drive, engine speed-dependent variable-speed fan and controlled hydraulic oil temperature circuit allows fuel costs to be reduced by roughly 25 per cent.

The research project team of Bauer has developed a new Energy Efficiency Package (EEP), which is now offered as an option with Bauer rotary drilling rigs and MC duty-cycle cranes. Multiple measures to increase energy efficiency are combined in the EEP and coordinated with each other in such a way that a significant increase in efficiency, and therefore in productivity, is achieved. Says Bhuwad, ?Extensive before-and-after comparisons prove that up to 30 percent fuel saving is achieved in the winch operation of rotary drilling rigs and up to 20 per cent saving is achieved in usual practice while drilling. In addition, the implemented measures also lead to significant noise reduction during operation because the diesel engine and fan are appropriately regulated ? an advantage for the environment as well as the operators and workers. The independent operation of multiple functions additionally allows easier handling of the drilling rig and ensures efficient operation.?

He adds, ?The drive system of the main winch of a rotary drilling rig, with its significant share in energy consumption, especially during kelly-drilling, was fundamentally re-engineered. The new system now makes it possible to recover the energy released during the lowering of the tool. Thus, the fuel consumption can be significantly reduced, especially when drilling deep boreholes. Further benefits are increased efficiency during lifting, higher speed and independent parallel operation of several functions (e.g. main winch, feed, swivels and rotary drive). Energy consumption by all ancillary devices, such as fan drives and pressure supply units was optimised. This reduces not only the energy consumption but also the noise emissions.?

Putzmeister has introduced new generations of stationary as well as boom pumps, the new BSA eSmart range. With its high-tech HMI (Human Machine Interface) control panel and an in-built ergonomic Graphic Display (EGD) the operator can determine the real time operating status of the machine and all diagnoses faults. This system reduces the restrictions in hydraulic oil flow; and as a result, the heat generation in this hydraulic system is minimised and thus saves recurring maintenance cost. Says Theissen, ?We have achieved a lot of success with eSmart range, as it only requires 100 litres of hydraulic oil except BSA 1409D. This is almost up to five times less as compared to equivalent machines that you find on the market today. And, since this oil needs to be changed every 500 pumping hours or 1500-2000 engine hours, it makes the eSmart machines the most economical machine to run and incredibly environmental friendly.?

Putzmeister also introduced the new generation boom pump M36-4 NG that has been built using aluminium and high-grade lightweight steel to reduce the weight by more than two tonnes. The boom pumps come equipped with ?Big Mouth? delivery cylinders of 230 mm diameter, are 32 per cent more efficient in filling the pipeline than its smaller counterparts with a diameter of 200 mm. The hydraulic tank capacity has been reduced to 275 litres, which is 30 per cent less compared to other machines in the market, making it much more economical and eco-friendly to run. They come with advanced features like, Z fold system, OSS and radio remote. The OSS (one sided support system): is the most advantageous feature, this innovation makes sure that construction is running smoothly in space constrained jobsites. Many metro and urban projects run into difficulties as truck mounted concrete pumps block the service roads and create traffic congestion. This technology allows the operator to extend the outriggers only where the concrete placement is required.

Manitowoc launched new best-in-class 250T Grove GMK5250L with VIAB turbo clutch and integrated retarder - the first ever mobile crane to feature the system. The VIAB turbo clutch module eliminates both fluid overheating and clutch burning, while enabling wear-free starting and braking. It also contributes to fuel savings and on the GMK5250L fuel consumption is estimated at approximately 30 per cent below that of its predecessor, the GMK5220. Says Jens Ennen, Senior Vice President, all-terrain and truck cranes at Manitowoc, ?This new Grove is packed with innovations that we will also be extending to other new cranes, adding them as standard and giving our customers even more value. Design features from us that first raised the bar in all-terrain innovation are now becoming our standard. We are continuing to work with the latest technology and this will keep us at the forefront of mobile crane efficiency and design.? The Grove GMK5250L is designed for efficiency, giving users a highly versatile crane, packed with the latest innovations. Operators will feel at home in the new Grove GMK5250L superstructure cab, with its Crane Control System (CCS) and the new Boom Configurator Mode. ?Customer return on investment has been the key driver in the development of this ground-breaking machine,? says Jens Ennen. Says Mehendale, ?At ElectroMech, we believe that energy efficiency should be a standard feature for our solutions to every sector including CE and we continuously work towards this goal by while developing customised solutions to our clients.? Speaking specifically about the cranes segment Mehendale adds, ?For our gantry cranes which are used on construction sites, this could be in terms of optimal selection of the power supply system (or power pack in cases where an on board generator is required). At the design stage, a lighter crane structure will reduce the overall power requirement, this is achieved through carefully considered design that maintains the robustness of the crane while keeping it as light as possible. We endeavor to work with our clients to understand their work cycles and site challenges so that the equipment we design for them is more than capable of handling their site requirements, while at the same time offers them the lowest possible total cost of ownership.?

In India construction equipment manufacturers follow Bharat Stage (CEV) II & III for range of products. According to Sharma of Terex these standards are based on the EU Stage I & US Tier 2/3 requirements. These regulations and standards are in place and focus on gradual reduction of exhaust emissions of particulate matter and oxides of nitrogen and to meet these regulations, development in technology is must while taking care of output power, reliability, longevity and cost of machines .Need of technology like exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), diesel oxidation techniques (DOCs), particulate filters, catalyst reduction techniques is there and this creates challenge for equipment manufactures to reformulate turbocharging, cooling systems of engine, oil and coolant to get in line with this.

While speaking on the major challenges especially from the end-user point of view Vinayak Chavan General Manager, Deutz Engines (India) had this to say. Globally, there are different engine technologies developed to meet the stringent emission norms. However, the major challenge is the availability of clean fuel. Of course, there are steps initiated in the urban centres, however as construction activates is spread across the length and breadth of the country, the availability is still a major challenge.?

Ramachandran of LeeBoy adds, ?Apart from the general trend towards clean energy and control of emission quality, a lesser known fact is that higher tier engines consume more fuel than their predecessors. The new environmental standards are the single driving force behind driving these changes. This is due to the fact that the latest engines (Tier III and Tier IV) consume more fuel than Tier II or Tier I engines. Designers are thus forced to recover these losses from other sub systems. In order to compensate for this, all international machine and major component manufacturers have started investing in research and development towards this end. These vary from machine to machine based on the type and nature of mechanisms.

Cost pressures
What is the acceptance level from the various end-user segments for the advanced range of product? Is cost a deterrent? Says Ramachandran, ?The main challenge of incorporating advanced systems and features that help optimise fuel efficacy and productivity is cost and a strong misplaced mind-set that all this is not required in India.? However he adds, ?The acceptance level in motor graders with advanced features is high as we deal with corporate users. Our excavators are also specifically aimed at the high productive segment and are popular in the quarry segment as it works comfortably with a rock breaker and loading of abrasive aggregate. Our backhoe loader is well received in the export market with higher engine power, power shift transmission, heavy duty axle and ergonomic cabin (joy stick operated variable volume hydraulic system).? He adds, ?We have worked with customers who look at features on the machine and not just the initial price. The cost is higher but not really a deterrent. An engine with a CRDI system would cost 33 per cent more than a conventional one. So, a company needs to upgrade its marketing and sales teams before the equipment, otherwise it?s hard to explain and convince the customers that these changes are necessary.

According to Krishnan of Volvo higher technology comes at a cost. On a positive note on the changing buying trends he adds, ?The initial cost discussion is becoming easier because now customer awareness about the full life cycle cost is quite high. People who take up their own job generally analyse the life cycle cost. Today clients are asking for fuel consumption pattern in a given condition that the equipment will be operating, in that site condition what type of repairs will come etc. Then they add the owning cost, and calculate the total cost of ownership. If the job what they take up is for 4-5 years this makes a big difference and premium get justified easily. But it is not enough.

Says Mehendale, ?End users are slowly but surely coming around to the fact that advanced features can benefit them in the long run. This shift will occur when a purchaser or end user evaluates any equipment on the total cost of ownership rather than the initial capital outlay. In addition, these advanced features may also provide benefits and cost savings in other areas, such as quicker cycle times or the ability to reuse equipment on multiple projects.?

?The end customer?s is naturally slightly scared by the electronic features, the additional skilled labour required, the potential cost of replacement of the electronics,? said Theissen.

Mehendale elaborates on the challenges specifically faced by the crane industry. He says, ?The OEM /cranes industry in India faces a unique set of challenges and hurdles in today?s scenario. Since crane manufacturing requires a huge amount of investment, a quality product manufactured in a state of the art manufacturing facility results into a higher product cost, which turns out to be the biggest drawback in the price-sensitive Indian market. Moreover, there are over 300 crane manufacturers vying for a slice of a market that stands at approximately 12,000 units annually. Economies of scale that exist in economies such as Germany or China do not exist in India. This makes expenditure on R&D difficult.?

Way forward
?Technologies involved go from engine efficiency to hydraulics, and so on. PLC controlled intelligent machines will become a must; and OEM?s need to invest in R&D to get it up and running,? says Theissen.

?Indian manufacturers have been taking initiatives to meet international industry standards. Technologies have progressed rapidly in the past decade. We see superior control methodologies in terms of accuracy, repeatability and efficiency in the market today. Advanced mechanisms and use of electrical sensors, invertors help ensure safety while using these equipment. As the production processes gets more evolved and with increased exposure of the Indian crane manufacturers to the modern manufacturing techniques and global best practices, there is a definite shift towards adoption of newer technologies for industries as well,? Says Mehendale. He adds, With the fast-changing business landscape, clients today demand an MHE model that yields a quicker ROI than ever before. Even companies, which are replacing or upgrading their existing range of material handling equipment, are inclined towards technology that is efficient, faster, safer and cost-effective.?

Krishnan sums up on a high note. ?This is the way to go; going forward cost competitiveness is very important for clients. In my opinion the awareness level is increasing, there is more demand for technical explanation, discussion on maintenance contract, on operator training as how an operator uses the machine makes a big difference. We see in the coming period there will be more demand for fuel efficient systems, and also how to make the given equipment more fuel efficient. Our success will be defined by the changes what is happening in the market.?

IRB Infrastructure 

  • Fuel and energy efficiency though very important, we need to see the applicability of equipment with its capability in handling. Other major things to be checked are easy availability of spares, and service.
  • In today?s world of high competition, machineries which will give fastest and cheapest result plus which can handle large volumes are the ones we need to check. With intelligent compaction and paving our risk of manual dependence will go down.
  • Efficiency, fuel, servicing cost, spares are major contributors towards life cycle cost. As already said, benefits arising out of intelligent system is risk of manual errors goes down there by getting better product and less risk of vehicle break downs too.
  • Optimum usage of equipment, its mobility and durability of parts of machine are important.

Courtesy: Sudhir Hoshing, Joint Managing Director, IRB Infrastructure

SNB Infrastructure

Fuel consumption depends on the type of job the equipment is involved with. It also influences various factors like type of soil/rock, machine, operator, maintenance, engines and other components of the equipment. If the machine is maintained properly, the fuel