How does an electric wheel loader work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
Everyone has heard of electric earth-moving machines. A number of manufacturers offer them. Some convert existing machines, others develop completely new ones. But how do these electric machines actually work?
The first time you drive an electric machine, you’ll immediately note a number of things. The machines are silent, swift and strong. These characteristics all result directly from the power source for these machines: the battery (more about this later). Electric motors drive the machine’s pumps. The advantage of these electric motors is that they deliver their maximum torque directly, providing direct force and speed. You will notice this as you accelerate from 0 to 20 km/h and feel that you are being flung forward. As well as these two particular characteristics, electric motors are extremely quiet – you barely hear them. The four-wheel drive works through a drive shaft rather than electric wheel motors – which you wouldn’t want in the slush and mud.
What is it like for people nearby?
Silent machines can also be a hazard. When you can’t hear the machine, you’re not automatically alerted to its approach by the sound of the motor. The Schäffer is fitted with a reversing alert as standard (you can switch it off should it bother those near you). The nice thing about working with an electric machine is that it isn’t a nuisance for people nearby, you can still communicate normally. You can easily speak to the driver.
What about wear, emissions and maintenance?
The machine doesn’t emit pollutants into the environment, either, as a diesel motor would. Since an electric machine doesn’t have a combustion engine, it doesn’t pollute the environment with combustion gases. In particular, there are no CO2 emissions. According to a number of sources, combustion of 1 litre of diesel releases 3.5 kg of CO2. Let that sink in, before you turn to a diesel machine. The electric machine also requires less maintenance, since you don’t have to replace as many filters and liquids. At 1,000 hours, you only need to replace the hydraulic filter.
The energy source in an electric machine is of course its battery. Schäffer has opted for a lithium-ion battery when building the fully electric wheelloader. The major advantage of these batteries is that they have a large capacity and no memory, so you can charge them at any time. They are charged through an internal charging system, which means that however long you have used the machine for, you need the same time again to charge the battery. Optionally, you can also use an external charger. This takes 15 minutes to load your battery pack to 80%. Want to set your machine charging, head for lunch, and then come back and work through the afternoon? Your Schäffer can do that too. Schäffer includes a battery guarantee for 5,000 charges or 5 years.
However carefully you read this article, it can’t match a physical trial if you want to know how it really feels to work with an electric Schäffer wheel loader. Hence our invitation to you: come and try out the machine on our test track at the Zeewolde branch of Schäffer Nederland. We advise you to make an appointment. That way, we can make sure everyone has plenty of time.
We’ll see to it that the coffee’s poured for you!
Region: The Netherlands