Sustainable Technology on Construction Equipment

Green building is changing the way work is done in construction. The words green building or sustainable construction often drum up an image of an eco-friendly building or infrastructure system that is highly energy efficient. This can include leveraging solar panels, automation technology, green materials and more to create this “green” structure.

However, green building is much more than just the building or infrastructure. Sustainable construction starts first at the construction jobsite where contractors and operators are promoting the creation and adoption of new technologies and innovation. The ultimate objective is to reduce the use of natural resources at the construction jobsite. Doing this often requires the use of technology to reduce the damage to the environment.

A report from Research N Reports suggest this market—green technology in construction—will grow. This is because there is a strong focus to invent products that can be reused for energy creation and consumption.

What does this look like out on the job? From equipment, to materials, to a change in process, every single aspect of a job can be impacted, and it will become key to watch the trends as they continue to emerge and grow in the future.

Energy-Efficient Construction Equipment
Perhaps one of the biggest ways that the jobsite can become greener is with the equipment that is leveraged out in the field.

Today’s construction equipment is highly connected. Construction companies have the capability to measure machine health, fuel consumption, productivity, cycle segmentation and more. Monitoring these parameters can help business lower cost and energy consumption.

Todd Tuntland, large wheel loader application specialist, Caterpillar, speaks specifically to the technology and benefits of loaders and points to the example of Cat Production Measurement, which provides the operator real-time bucket payload, total truck payload, and total tons moved, as a useful piece of technology in loaders today.

Further, he says economy mode or on-demand throttle is another useful technology in loaders. “This technology provides engine power automatically and only when it’s needed. The result is up to 20 percent fuel savings,” he explains.

Finally, another example of useful technology is tire pressure monitoring that reports pressure and temperature of each tire to the operator via an onboard touchscreen display. “If configurable target pressures are not met, a message will be sent to VisionLink informing the customer.”

Looking to the future, Tuntland also suggests that technology will continue to play a very significant role on equipment going forward.

“As we look to the future of wheel loaders there is no doubt that technology will play a major role,” he explains. “A great example is the recently launched 988K XE that utilizes electric drive technology to maximize fuel efficiency. In this particular case we have replaced the traditional mechanical transmission with a generator, inverter and motor. The new powertrain utilizes switch reluctance technology. This results in a 25 percent overall improvement in efficiency and up to 49 percent in high production tough digging applications. In the future I think customers are expecting a loader that is more fuel efficient, automated and connected.”

This is one example of how the jobsite is becoming sustainable today. New equipment offers new opportunities to improve fuel efficiency and create a greener jobsite.

Trend Toward Green Building
The trend toward green building and construction continues to grow across the globe, according to many analysts and consultants.

Solidiance, for example, is a consulting firm with a specific focus and expertise in the areas of industrial applications and green technology. The objective is to help with sustainable and profitable growth for businesses.

The company sees green building as a worldwide trend, with cities across the globe analyzing and assessing green building policies and targets. Further, adoption of green building certification and projects often depends on the efficient performance of the city’s built environment. This trend toward green building also extends to work that is being done at the construction jobsite.

For instance, Gervasius Samosir, associate partner, Solidiance, says the new development of technology are affected by at least three key main concerns which may hamper the internal growth of a company. This includes:

  • Enhance operational safety
  • Improve operational efficiency
  • Green awareness/green sustainable business operations

With regards to the trend toward greater green awareness, specifically in mining construction, he says, “Some of remote mining operation now has replaced the usage of diesel engine power plant to the installation of solar photovoltaic panel.” Further, he adds many construction companies are also using environmentally friendly tire products and more.

Today, construction companies recognize that green construction is forward-thinking, cost-effective, and the right way to build. Skanska, for instance, believes environmental health is economic health and green contributes to the fiscal stability of clients.

As another example, Turner Construction Co., believes both in delivering green buildings to clients and reducing the environmental impact of operations and the supply chain. It does this through education and training to improve corporate governance and reporting of environmental metrics.

Green building is here—and it extends from what is being done at the jobsite to what is being done in the buildings and infrastructure itself. It is changing the way teams work and deliver projects, and it is ultimately improving the environment, creating a safe and healthy workplace.

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