Amp­ing it up

We visit the Avant fac­tory to check out the e6 elec­tric wheel loader

Farms & Farm Machinery - - Contents -

All-elec­tric ve­hi­cles are in­creas­ingly be­ing seen as more than mere nov­el­ties as pres­sure mounts to re­duce emis­sions, but so far they have come with com­pro­mises in terms of the bat­ter­ies’ charg­ing and work­ing time.

One com­pany that has man­aged to ad­dress th­ese con­cerns is Fin­land’s Avant Tecno, which brought out the e5 all-elec­tric wheel loader late last year and started de­liv­er­ies to cus­tomers ear­lier this year.

The e5 is a fully elec­tric bat­tery-pow­ered loader with zero emis­sions, ex­tremely low noise lev­els and low run­ning costs.

It is equipped with a 240Ah lead acid bat­tery and has two sep­a­rate elec­tric mo­tors: a 6kW mo­tor for driv­ing the ma­chine; and a 2kW mo­tor for the loader boom op­er­a­tion and the aux­il­iary hy­draulics.

The Avant e5 has 30L/min aux­il­iary hy­draulics flow, which can eas­ily han­dle work­ing with var­i­ous Avant at­tach­ments in­clud­ing a hy­draulic ham­mer.

Op­er­a­tion time of the Avant e5 varies de­pend­ing on the type of work it is per­form­ing but it can op­er­ate for up to three hours in light work­ing con­di­tions such as trans­port and light lift­ing.

In heav­ier work­ing op­er­a­tions – such as push­ing, heavy lift­ing and us­ing aux­il­iary hy­draulics – the e5 has a rec­om­mended work­ing time of 45 min­utes to one hour.

The loader has an in­te­grated bat­tery charger, which makes it pos­si­ble to charge bat­ter­ies any­where a 230V/10A power out­let is avail­able.

Charg­ing time of the bat­tery pack to 80 per cent ca­pac­ity is ap­prox­i­mately three hours and to 100 per cent is five hours.

MEET­ING A NEED

Avant Tecno is based in Ylo­jarvi, Fin­land. Since be­ing es­tab­lished in 1991 the com­pany has man­u­fac­tured more than 45,000 load­ers. The com­pany has im­port part­ners in over 50 coun­tries and sales of­fices in the UK, Ger­many and the United States.

Op­tidrive im­proves the drive sys­tem ef­fi­ciency by 10 per cent, has 60 per cent fewer hy­draulic con­nec­tions and fea­tures an im­proved fit­ting sys­tem for the con­nec­tors

The load­ers are dis­trib­uted in Aus­tralia by Unan­derra NSWbased Avant Equip­ment.

Elec­tric load­ers are not new for Avant as the com­pany first in­tro­duced them in 1997, but the mar­ket, Avant says, was not ready for the tech­nol­ogy at that time and pro­duc­tion stopped.

Now, some 20 years later, the mar­ket is ready and re­spond­ing to this type of tech­nol­ogy. Avant has al­ready sold more than

100 e5s in the UK and cen­tral Europe and, thanks to im­proved bat­tery tech­nol­ogy, is launch­ing the e6 model later this year.

Avant Tecno vice pres­i­dent and sales and mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor Jani Kakela tells Farms & Farm Ma­chin­ery that the fresh de­mand for elec­tric load­ers is com­ing from cus­tomers work­ing in­doors.

“Be­cause we man­u­fac­ture com­pact load­ers, a lot of our cus­tomers are driv­ing at least some por­tion of their daily op­er­a­tion in­side; be it in a cow­shed, horse sta­ble, de­mo­li­tion site or in­dus­trial fa­cil­ity.

“In any case there are peo­ple or, in some cases, peo­ple and an­i­mals that will get ex­posed to ex­haust fumes when us­ing a loader with con­ven­tional in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gine.

“Many of our cus­tomers have con­cerns that this is not good for the health of the op­er­a­tors or an­i­mals in long term and this is why we started to work on a zero-emis­sion so­lu­tion,” says Jani, who is the son of the com­pany founder Risto Kakela.

“In ad­di­tion to the con­cern of our cus­tomers we can see that leg­is­la­tion is also tight­en­ing year af­ter year on use of in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gines in en­closed or par­tially en­closed ar­eas.

“We al­ready have cus­tomers re­port­ing that zero emis­sion is only pos­si­ble on some of the de­mo­li­tion sites. We are sure that the amount of th­ese sites will only be in­creas­ing in the fu­ture.

“An­other kind of emis­sion on in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gines is noise. Elec­tric load­ers are very silent and it of­fers fur­ther pos­si­bil­i­ties to work on noise-re­stricted hours and in in­hab­ited ar­eas it will cre­ate less noise pol­lu­tion.”

EN­TER THE E5

The ma­jor hin­drance in de­vel­op­ing any elec­tric ma­chine is how long it will run for and what bat­tery life can be ex­pected be­fore need­ing to be re­placed.

“Ob­vi­ously the op­er­a­tion time is one ma­jor lim­it­ing fac­tor which is hold­ing it back in some uses at the mo­ment,” Jani says. “The e5 has an op­er­at­ing time of one to four hours, so it works well in most agri­cul­tural en­vi­ron­ments.

“It has also proven to work as well with some of our test cus­tomers in de­mo­li­tion op­er­a­tions,” he adds.

The Avant e5 loader has lead acid bat­ter­ies sim­i­lar to those used in con­ven­tional elec­tric fork­lifts. The ben­e­fit of this tech­nol­ogy is that it has been in use for decades and is fa­mil­iar to any fork­lift dealer. Spare parts are eas­ily avail­able and its char­ac­ter­is­tics are well known.

It has taken Avant quite some time to de­velop the e5 – and find­ing the right time to bring it to mar­ket has been a ma­jor chal­lenge for the com­pany.

“The de­sign process was very long,” Jani says. “Avant did man­u­fac­ture the first bat­tery op­er­ated loader al­ready in 1997.

“How­ever it was not suc­cess­ful back then due to many things. The prod­uct was not com­pletely there and also the de­mand was not quite as high as it is at the mo­ment.

“In 2009 we did some stud­ies again in the elec­tri­cal loader area, but again we de­cided the time was not com­pletely ripe. In 2014 we saw that the tech­nol­ogy and de­mand for this kind of prod­uct was truly here so we used all the info we had gath­ered over the years and re­alised the e5.

“We in­tro­duced the loader in 2016 and the first cus­tomer de­liv­er­ies started in early 2017.”

The e5 fea­tures the Op­tidrive hy­draulic sys­tem which Avant has also in­tro­duced to its big­ger 700 Se­ries. This sys­tem is im­prov­ing drive ef­fi­ciency by 10 per cent, ac­cord­ing to Avant.

“In short, the Op­tidrive sys­tem im­proves the ef­fi­ciency of the drive sys­tem by 10 per cent, has 60 per cent fewer hy­draulic con­nec­tions and fea­tures an im­proved fit­ting sys­tem for those con­nec­tors,” Jani says.

LOOK­ING AHEAD

As suc­cess­ful as the e5 has been, plans are now afoot within Avant to in­tro­duce a new all-elec­tric loader with longer work­ing times, less down­time for charg­ing and twice the bat­tery life. (The e5’s cur­rently lasts for 1500 days.)

Thanks to fur­ther de­vel­op­ment in bat­tery tech­nol­ogy, Avant is launch­ing the e6 model later this year.

“The e6 is a sis­ter model of the e5 with the prin­ci­pal dif­fer­ence be­ing their bat­tery,” Jani says.

“The e6 has a lithium-ion bat­tery which al­lows it to be used for two to six hours. Charg­ing the bat­tery takes only one hour when us­ing the quick charg­ing de­vice.

“This makes the e6 a more at­trac­tive model for more con­tin­u­ous use, which you would find typ­i­cally on a de­mo­li­tion site, for ex­am­ple.

“As there is still quite a sig­nif­i­cant price dif­fer­ence be­tween the e5 and e6, we be­lieve there is de­mand for both of th­ese mod­els and they both have a place in the mar­ket,” he adds.

The e5 and e6 elec­tric wheel load­ers are avail­able in Aus­tralia through Avant Equip­ment. For more in­for­ma­tion call 1800 686 411 or visit www.avan­te­quip­ment.com

1. The Avant e5 is a zero-emis­sions elec­tric

mini-loader

2. Load­ers on the as­sem­bly line at the

com­pany’s fac­tory in Ylo­jarvi, Fin­land

3. Avant ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent sales and mar­ket­ing Jani Kakela tries out the e5 for size

4. Finn-Power!

5. The Avant e5 has an aux­il­iary hy­draulics

flow of 30L/min

6. Some of the Avant loader and

at­tach­ment range

7. Con­trols and in­stru­ments are

user-friendly

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