What contractors need to know now

By the Association of Equipment Manufacturers

Electrification of construction machinery is hardly a new concept. For years, electric equipment has been commonly seen in a variety of applications, from demolition and mining to aerial lift and industrial work.

Now, however, electric equipment is becoming increasingly prevalent on and around job sites. Its potential is evident. Its benefits are clear. Its long-term place in the industry is no longer up for debate. And, as electric vehicles continue to be more widely adopted by consumers, all that’s left to do is examine – and try to accurately determine – how the construction industry should prepare for the technology to become fully mainstream in the not-too-distant future.

“If you go out about three years, there will be approximately 700 electric vehicles roadside, and that’s not even getting into construction and agriculture,” said David Knight, CEO of Terbine, a provider of technology for the seamless exchanging of IoT data between the mobility and energy sectors, discussing how the construction industry should prepare for the widespread adoption of electric vehicles in the not-too-distant future.

According to Knight, there are five main reasons why equipment end users in the construction industry should strongly considering investing in electric machinery.

1. Lower operating costs

The savings on diesel costs alone are significant. Most original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) cite a range of four to eight hours of runtime for “average” use on electric compact equipment, with an eight-hour overnight charge. And while it’s quick and easy to compare run times on a fully charged electric machine with a full tank on diesel units, there’s no idle on an electric machine. Therefore, an operator can get a day or more of productive work out of it because they’re typically not running a machine for eight continuous hours a day.

2. Lower maintenance costs

Reciprocating engines possess many friction-generating parts, which fail. The friction, and the frictional components and amount of heat generated with an engine running, is really what contributes to parts being replaced and maintained.

3. Tax credits

Incentives can offer savings across a fleet. It’s important for organizations to stay up to date regarding what’s available, both provincially and nationally.

4. Carbon credits and offsets

Carbon credits, such as the Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Offset Credit System, work like permission slips for emissions. When a company buys a carbon credit, they gain permission to generate one tonne of CO2 emissions. When one company removes a unit of carbon from the atmosphere as part of their normal business activity, they can generate a carbon offset.

“If you go out about three years, there will be approximately 700 electric vehicles roadside, and that’s not even getting into construction and agriculture.”

– David Knight, CEO of Terbine

5. ESG goals

Many organizations are setting and working toward environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) goals, and it’s a trend that’s only expected to become more common with time. Without goals and corresponding policies, organizations face ESG risk, which includes loss of investors, a damaged reputation and fines for regulatory noncompliance.

There is every reason to believe the electric vehicles and electric equipment will continue to develop and improve over time, says Knight, thus making a greater level of adoption even more likely in the very near future. According to Knight, the architectures of electric vehicles are going to even higher voltages. The higher the voltage, he explains, the less current is needed for a given amount of wattage. That also means less heat. And, while voltages are very good now, they are expected to improve significantly in the coming years.

“They’re going to be really good in three to five years, and that’s going to allow for even faster and more efficient charging than ever before,” he said.  

AEM is the North America-based international trade group representing off-road equipment manufacturers and suppliers with more than 1,000 companies and more than 200 product lines in the agriculture and construction-related industry sectors worldwide.