JCB is completing the circuit in its Road to Zero programme with a number of electric launches. Professional Builder’s Lee Jones reports.
It was 75 years ago last year that JCB began its journey from the tiny lock-up garage of its founder Joseph Cyril Bamford to global force. Many of the innovations it has pioneered along the way are firmly established as amongst the indispensable companions of generations of contractors. Thanks to the demands of climate change – and a well-documented clean air crisis – the challenges of operating machinery on site have evolved still further, with a new era of environmentally-conscious JCB solutions emerging as a result – and the atmosphere is most definitely electric.
In just a few short years, the company’s road to zero programme has witnessed the introduction of a wide range of electric solutions, including the zero emissions JCB 19C-1 E-TEC mini excavator. Having subsequently garnered two prestigious accolades from the Royal Academy of Engineering, and the Royal Automobile Club, it’s not just on pollution control where it scores points. This battery-powered mini is also five times quieter than its diesel counterpart and is equally adept at working outside or indoors – eliminating the need to utilise expensive extractions systems in confined areas. Indeed, the machine could well be utilised in the likes of basement refurbs, where the only option previously would be the punishing physical labour of digging out by hand.
Moreover, low noise could extend the window of activity for the machine earlier into the morning and later at night, whilst it makes for a much pleasanter environment for the driver. Crucially, its four next generation lithium-ion packs ensure full energy capacity of 20kW hours, which is more than enough for a full shift.
Not ones to stop in their tracks, 2020 has seen the E-TEC become a machine for all seasons, with JCB becoming the first manufacturer to offer a cab on an electric mini excavator, providing instant heat for demisting and defrosting, whilst keeping the operator comfortable. Cleverly, even when operating on its maximum setting, the heating only draws on half of the power from one battery, so there’s no impact on digging or tracking performance.
In order to ensure that the infrastructure the end user requires to successfully run electric machines is available, JCB has introduced a number of charging options. The high power Universal Charger delivers a single solution for all of its electric machines, and is compatible with all current and future electric products from the Staffordshire-based manufacturer. What it offers is the convenience of a high-speed boost during the working day, with the 19C-1E mini fully charged from zero to full in just two and half hours.
Alternatively, JCB’s new range of power packs deliver a zero emissions, maintenance free, charging solution, with no noise and vibration at the point of use. These versatile units can just as easily be utilised as back-up power for lighting, security and site welfare provision and, when coupled with a JCB generator set, can become a part of a hybrid arrangement. A steel canopy, and fork pockets for ease of transportation – and to position for recharging from a mains supply – enhances durability and convenience respectively.
The onward charge of electric is now relentless and the more machines that are introduced to the market, the more the horizons for lithium ion will expand exponentially. That’s reflected in a swathe of new launches from JCB, which includes the HDT-5 E-Dumpster, an all-electric high tip dumpster which is capable of carrying up to 500kg. Powered by a 48V lithium-ion battery pack, that takes just two hours to charge, it makes use of either a 240 or 110V electricity supply. The 9kW motor delivers travels speeds up to 3km per hour and the machine is either walk behind or ride on. In the latter mode end users can make use of an optional ride on smart step, a feature which isolates power to the tracks if the operator steps off whilst the dumpster is moving, whilst still providing power to the skip and hydraulics.
Crucially for the smaller contractor, it can move through standard doorframes and, because it’s zero emissions, as with the E-TECH mini it’s ideal for indoor use. For larger jobs in materials handling you’ll need to move up the payload scale, of course, but that doesn’t mean you have to steer from the electric avenue, because JCB are now offering an all-electric one tonne 1T-E Site Dumper.
The ideal partner for the electric 19C-1 E-TEC mini, this high tip solution, benefits from a steel skip with a maximum load over height of nearly 2.4m, and a heavy duty articulated chassis that can handle a maximum payload of one tonne. The trend in diesel dumpers has been towards hydrostatic but, thanks to the adoption of drive axles and a dropbox in favour of hydrostatic drive motors, the 1TE remains a full-time, all-wheel drive unit. Power is provided by twin 5kW hr lithium-ion batteries, and a 7kW hydraulic motor delivers drive to the aforementioned dropbox, whilst a second hydraulic pump powers the hydraulic circuit for steering, and for the lifting of the skip. The batteries can be charged from a conventional site electrical supply with 110V and 230V cables available, or from the JCB Universal Charger for rapid charging.
Electric machines are no longer just a niche option but are destined to occupy the mainstream. With zero emissions, low noise, reduced maintenance and cost of ownership they deliver what the modern world is now demanding. The bright sparks at JCB have promised that there’s much more to come in battery powered solutions, and its customers are increasingly switched on to the idea.
For further information on the JCB E-TECH range visit https://www.jcb.com/en-gb/campaigns/etech-range