When Dan Shouldice set out to add a new 36-ton excavator to his fleet, he was eager to ensure the machine featured hybrid technology.
Shouldice, owner of Shouldice Construction, based in Oxford Mills, Ontario, had previously purchased a Komatsu HB215LC Hybrid excavator about five years ago.
“I was so impressed with the hybrid system with Komatsu, that I was hoping they had a bigger machine with the system,” he said.
“It’s a good addition to the fleet. It functions beautifully and it just keeps digging,” Shouldice said.
Shouldice Construction has been operating in the Ottawa area for more than a decade. The company specializes in foundation and foundation repair, as well as topsoil screening, commercial landscaping and site prep, concrete repair and demolition. The HB365LC is primarily being used for the site prep and landscaping segment of the business and will transition to help run the snow dump in the winter.
“There’s a lot of bailing and a lot of 180 degree turns,” Shouldice said.
Komatsu’s Hybrid excavators feature a 100 per cent electric swing system. All hydraulic power is freed up for the boom, arm and bucket movements, resulting in improved cycle times and productivity.
The unique, fully-electric hybrid system uses an electric swing motor, which captures swing deceleration energy that would normally go unused. The energy captured during each swing cycle is stored in an ultra-capacitor, which provides energy for the swing system.
The diesel engine also has a generator for fast charging the capacitor when required, and to rapidly increase engine rpm from an ultra-low idle, for quick hydraulic response when boom, arm and bucket controls are activated.
As well, the HB365LC’s hybrid and total-vehicle-control systems help reduce fuel consumption and emissions by up to 40 per cent — depending on the application — while maintaining or exceeding operating performance, compared to 36-ton, non-hybrid excavators.
Although an excavator with the hybrid system costs more than a similar hydraulic machine, Shouldice expects its reduced fuel consumption will translate into a lower overall cost in the long run.
“It’s a substantial amount of savings. I feel the extra cost of the machine would be paid back within three years, depending on how many hours you put on it,” he said.
Shouldice also believes the hybrid machines will retain more of their value.
“My 215 is five years old now and I haven’t had one problem with the hybrid system in it,” he said. “I usually trade things in, but I don’t know if I’m going to. I might just keep it.”
He added using a hybrid machine has also helped elevate his business’s public profile.
“It’s not that it helps to get the job, but it definitely raises awareness,” Shouldice said.
Over the summer, Shouldice used the hybrid excavator on a job at the National Research Council in Ottawa, which proved the machine’s ability to draw attention.
“I actually had to go down and talk because the operator couldn’t get anything done. People kept asking questions about it,” Shouldice said.