Construction Tech Future: Excavator Technology Innovations and Full Electric Revolution

A white paper published by HCM (Hitachi Construction Machinery) on the Europe component provided the construction industry with a glimpse of what is in store in the near future.

The paper pointed out that the compact equipment segment is indeed the fastest-growing segment not just in Europe, but around the world based on the fact that 70% of compact excavators that are sold within Europe are below three tons. 

This is not just because it is easy to obtain a permit to tow any of these compact models with a trailer by just owning a regular driving license, but because these machines are also the most advanced compared to their standard-sized cousins. Mini excavators are also paving the way for remote monitoring technology and based on the facts presented in the White Paper, remote monitoring is set to play a crucial role within the scope of the compact construction equipment segment from which, mini excavators are the biggest component. 

Excavator Technology Innovations

These machines are not just being loaded with GPS systems and work hour clocking databases, but they are also currently in process of being controlled remotely without operators. The report says that within the next few years based on the rapid progress manufacturers are commanding under their R&D wing, remote-controlled mini excavators will be a reality. 

A quote from the report states, “this is not just about tracking the location of an excavator hire which frequently moves from one project site to another and compiling working hours data, this is about ‘perfect automation’ which will essentially help project managers and rental companies that give out excavators for hire the ability to plan and enhance their level of efficiency and schedule maintenance appropriately. 

Different manufacturers seeking differentiation elements offer unique telematics along with their latest mini excavators which are still grappling with establishing an industry-standard that at the moment is ‘nonexistent’. For instance, Hitachi mini excavators are connected to Hitachi’s in-house RMS (remote monitoring system), a Global e-Service component of Hitachi that allows business owners and project managers to have access to data via their smartphones. 

Komatsu has also announced the release of their total electric remote-controlled mini excavator (non-hydraulic drive) that is powered by a battery pack (lithium-ion). The concept machine made its debut during Komatsu’s 100th-year celebration which according to Komatsu’s development team has been designed to establish a foundation for electric construction equipment of the future.

The 3-ton compact excavator was a spinoff from the Komatsu’s extensive experience with electric forklifts over the years that eventually led them to focus on mini excavators. 

It is not just about making the compact excavator electric; it is also about making the compact excavator intelligent. This was based on the fact that the new mini concept excavator does not have any hydraulic component and the machine is capable of being operated entirely from a remote location.

Other companies that are hot on the heels of electric developments include Volvo CE, Bobcat Kubota and Kobelco excavators.