Construction: Electrification Drives Operational Efficiency

This is Part 4 of a blog series dedicated to the major drivers and enablers for electrification within the construction industry.

Part 1: Environmental Protection Drives Electrification
Part 2: Indoor Equipment Operation
Part 3: The Telematic Advantages Electrification Achieves

The broader conversation revolving around vehicle and machinery electrification generally focuses on efficiency for environmental reasons. However, electric power’s operational efficiency advantages over internal combustion engines also reduce costs and achieve optimal performance.

Original equipment manufacturers should consider electrifying their vehicles and machinery for the market competitiveness these advantages offer when selling to construction firms.

1. Insulation from Fuel Price Fluctuations and Similar Consumables

One of electrification’s most touted benefits is the removal of unexpected expense hikes resulting from the volatility of fuel prices. Similarly, electrification removes the burden of emissions systems and parts costs associated with maintaining factory-level standards.

Furthermore, newer diesel engines are required to use diesel exhaust fluid (DEF)—a urea solution—during selective catalytic reduction (SCR) to reduce emitted pollutants. DEF prices have also begun demonstrating cost fluctuations that will impact firms’ expenses.

As early as February 2021, analysts predicted a rise in urea prices.1 By September, the cost per ton had doubled its normal level.2

2. Elimination of Fuel Consumption During Idle and Warm-Up Periods

Vehicles are less efficient when idling or operating at low speeds. This is because every engine is designed with an optimal range for power output (and fuel efficiency). Generally, this range (i.e., the “powerband”) begins a few hundred RPMs above idle speeds.3

Construction vehicles and machinery’s high frequency of lower-speed operation prevents firms from leveraging all the energy they’ve paid for at the pump. And when idling an internal combustion engine, you’ve paid to sit still. In contrast, battery operation only delivers power when it is required.

Similar to targeting an optimal range for power, engines are designed to operate within a certain temperature range. Unfortunately, reaching this temperature range often requires idling during a warm-up period or light operation—both consuming significant fuel at a lower efficiency.

3. Maximizing Torque and Power Output Via Electrification

While internal combustion engines must maintain RPMs within their powerband to achieve peak efficiency, electric power instantly delivers maximum torque at lower operational speeds. With electric power, maximum torque output occurs until a force known as “counter-electromotive force (EMF),” or “back-EMF,” begins to act against output.4

As power output is determined by torque multiplied by rotational speed (as a simplification), electric vehicles and machinery inherently produce more kW at the lower engine speeds. This maximized output at lower operational speeds provides massive operational efficiency benefits for construction vehicles and machinery.

4. Fewer (Internal) Wearable Parts

While engine temperature affects efficiency (e.g., ignition timing), its most significant problem relates to engine wear. Specifically, the relationship between optimal engine temperature and oil temperature and pressure is critical.

As metal parts heat up, they expand—increasing friction and, resultantly, wear. The proper application of oil eliminates friction concerns for movable engine parts. But, that application requires the oil to heat up and thin to sufficiently coat all surfaces and circulate throughout the engine. Therefore, during start and warm-up periods where oil is thicker and pressure falls outside optimal ranges, you significantly increase the wear an engine suffers.
With electric power, oil temperature and pressure are removed as critical operational considerations.

Regardless of temperatures, electric vehicles and machinery rely on fewer systems and parts to operate, which results in lower maintenance demands and associated costs.

5. Lower Parasitic Load

“Parasitic load” (or “parasitic loss”) refers to the energy consumed by systems directly driven off an engine or battery. With an internal combustion engine, these systems usually rely on the rotational force produced (e.g., fans, belts) or created pressures (e.g., exhaust gas). Thus, the attached systems reduce the overall power output.

Many of these engine-driven systems are installed for emissions requirements. Electric power’s removal of emissions compliance inherently helps reduce parasitic load. Larger or additional batteries can be added to vehicles or machinery to compensate for remaining amounts (e.g., dashboard, lights, electronic control units).

Charge Your Vehicles and Machinery with Delta-Q Technologies

For original equipment manufacturers considering electrification or seeking partners, Delta-Q Technologies designs, produces, and tests best-in-class battery chargers. As a supplier of choice for Tier 1 OEMs, we will help you solve manufacturing challenges and achieve optimal, continuous power delivery.

There are numerous reasons for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to pursue electrification strategies for their offerings; most of them resulting in market differentiation and competitive advantage. Ultimately, construction firms will base their equipment and machinery purchasing decisions on the intersection of capability and cost-effectiveness.

Electrification developments—especially those regarding lithium batteries—deliver performance while reducing ongoing and tangential costs. As a result, OEMs can leverage these advantages to stand out amongst competitors producing internal combustion options.

Want to learn more?

To learn more about electrification trends and advantages within construction, visit our landing page.

Read more about application & technology trends in construction equipment

Written By:

Simran Sharma

More By This Author