Volvo CE’s EC500 excavator enhances the operator experience

Volvo Construction Equipment’s new EC500
Volvo Construction Equipment’s new EC500

Designed with the operator and safety as priority, Volvo Construction Equipment’s new EC500 features a new operator interface, cab design and safety features. 

Volvo CE provided the first look at a prototype of the EC500 excavator at ConExpo in March. The new excavator is also the first of the next generation machines introduced by the manufacturer. 

As the successor to the Volvo EC480E, the EC500 is a 50-ton crawler excavator designed for construction, road building and aggregate applications. 

“It’s the same size and same weight, but we increased the engine power and kept the same digging force,” said Sejong Ko, Product Manager for Excavators at Volvo CE North America. 

“This is a faster machine with better fuel consumption that provides our customers with a good total cost of ownership.”

Volvo Smart View

As part of Volvo CE’s vision of zero accidents, the EC500 is fitted with Volvo Smart View with Obstacle Detection, providing operators with an enhanced, 360-degree, real-time view of their surroundings and automatic alerts should obstacles be detected.

“This is a unique technology to Volvo. It is a radar detection system that can figure out if it detects an object or a human. On the monitor, the bird’s eye view screen will catch if something is approaching,” Ko said. 

As well, three-point access guard rails and a foldable top handrail for transportation are additional new safety features.

EC500 cab 

New features include a high-definition co-pilot screen, keyless engine start, wired and wireless smart phone charging and a new work mode switch.

“Our current design is good, but we wanted to move forward, so we completely changed everything inside of the cabin. The seat, the screen, the layout. Everything,” Ko said. 

The next generation EC500 excavator is also set up for a range of options to help operators complete their tasks faster, more easily and more safely. 

New electric joysticks give the operator more control over the hydraulic system. This system allows up to nine operators to set their personal preferences for boom and swing speed. 

“Operators are hard to hire nowadays, and their skill level is very different. Each operator setting is different, which will help them work accordingly,” Ko said. 

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The EC500’s new joysticks include rollers to control the machine’s tracks. As well, a smaller joystick within thumb’s reach allows the operator to navigate the in-cab screen’s options. 

“He or she doesn’t have to stop working to navigate the menu,” Ko said.  

The hydraulic pumps can be operated together or virtually disconnected, allowing the operator to control the boom without affecting track speed, delivering a smooth ride for the operator. This also increases controllability, shortens cycle times and improves fuel efficiency.

“No matter if I raise the boom up or down, the track speed is the same. It’s very convenient and safe,” Ko said.  

New tech

The EC500 is equipped with several of Volvo’s tech features, including the operator coaching app, Volvo Dig Assist, which is a suite of tools designed to help deliver excavator accuracy by eliminating the need to manually mark out a site and check depths and grades.

Volvo Active Control, an automated grading system and part of the Dig Assist suite of tools, will also be available for the first time on a 50-ton excavator.

“All of these combined functions will help operators to work in a better way,” Ko said. “No matter how skilled they are, the operator will work like an expert.”

Volvo has also increased the cooling capacity of the EC500 to tolerate extreme temperatures, and extended service intervals for hydraulic oil and filter from 2,000 hours to 3,000 hours. 

Manufactured at Volvo CE’s crawler excavator plant in Changwon, Korea, production of the EC500 will begin in the fourth quarter of 2023 and the machine will be available in select markets including North America.