Volvo's big dig
25 April 2008
Volvo Construction Equipment has become a well established name in the small to mid range crawler excavator sector with a product line stretching from 1.2 to 46.6 tonnes. But the company is now pushing into the large excavator market in a bid to match digging power to the hauling power of its articulated dump trucks.
Volvo's prototype of the new 70 tonne EC700B LC attracted much attention when it was unveiled at ConExpo in Las Vegas, US in March 2005. Nonetheless, buyers have had to wait almost a year for the first machines to roll off Volvo's production line at Changwon in Korea.
Before its debut at ConExpo, Volvo had extensively field tested the prototype at an andesite quarry, owned by Dae Pyeong Industry, close to its Changwon plant. Dae Pyeong Industry president Suh Sung Ho said, “We have been using the EC700B here since July 2004 and has been used up to 16 hours per day, clocking up over 4000 hours of operation.”
Volvo chief engineer Kyeong Hwa Yoon added, “The quarry processes over 4000 tonnes of stone each year for asphalt and is a very tough environment for construction equipment. The quarry previously used a 45 tonne excavator to cope with the steep haul roads but was not really powerful enough for some jobs.
“Feedback from Dae Pyeong Industry's experienced operators has been invaluable to improving the reliability of the production machine. Their suggestions have led to changes in the structural design of the machine and have also helped to reduce vibration.”
The EC700B is powered by Volvo's new 464 hp (346 kW) Tier 3/Stage IIIA compliant D16E EAE3 engine. The machine has a digging reach and depth of 13.17 m and 8.4 m, respectively, and has a breakout force of 356 kN and a lifting capacity of 20 tonnes.
The machine is currently available in two specifications - standard and mass excavation. The standard machine is fitted with a 7.7 m boom, 3.55 m arm and 3.8 m3 capacity bucket. The mass excavation machine has a shorter boom and arm - 6.6 m and 2.9 m - but has a bucket capacity of 4.5 m3.
“The machine offers a good combination of stability and high productivity, as well as fuel efficiency and comfort,” said Volvo advisor Mike Ikeda. “It has been designed to work with our ADT range and can fill the 40 tonne A40D in five passes which takes 67 seconds.”
Since its launch at ConExpo, the five other EC700B's have been undergoing field trials in Sweden, China, Turkey, the US and the UAE. These trials were carried out in a variety of different environments to put the machine's reliability and endurance to the test.
The EC700B is being produced at Volvo's 1.2 million m2 production plant in Changwon, Korea which the company took over as part of its acquisition of Samsung Heavy Industries in 1998. The factory, originally set up in 1978 by Hyundai and taken over by Samsung in 1983, has previously produced cranes, dozers and wheeled loaders but now exclusively produces excavators.
“We have the capacity to produce up to 150 EC700B excavators here each year,” said Volvo's Changwon plant manager W S Suk. “Production of the new excavator started here in mid October and the first units were shipped for delivery to customers in January.”
According to Volvo, interest in the EC700B has been high with 20 orders in 2005 and 154 forecast for 2006. Volvo is expecting orders to drop back to 120 units in 2007 before steadily growing to 137 per year in 2012.
But does Volvo have any plans to further extend its excavator range? “We have no plans to move into the mining sector at the moment,” said Volvo's Korean president and CEO Eric Nielsen but during the visit to Changwon Mr Suk added that Volvo is “looking at the possibility of producing other excavators in the extra large size range.