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Connected Solutions

First published in the April 2022 issue of Quarry Management

Volvo Construction Equipment highlight six seemingly small ways to make a big impact 

Connected solutions are getting smarter by the day. While operators are working hard on the job site, hundreds of thousands of data points are doing their own job quietly in the background to allow them work more safely, efficiently, and sustainably than ever before. 

Electric machines may be the face of the net-zero future, but when it comes to a more sustainable way of working the real heart of a modern quarry or construction site is the connectivity that is filtering the numbers, pumping out vital information to every part of the job site, and keeping operations flowing smoothly. Being part of this digital ecosystem is not only a vital tool in achieving the goal of building a better world – by unlocking efficiencies right across the value chain, but also allows for more effective communication in across everyone’s individual roles. Whilst only just scratching the surface of what technology can achieve, here Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) pick out some of their most recent innovations that are significantly contributing to increased safety, uptime, and fuel efficiency.

Prevent downtime with virtual real-time tech support

To diagnose and resolve potential machine issues even faster than before, Volvo CE are enabling dealer field technicians to connect directly to their back-office product specialists, as well as Volvo product experts and engineers, through live augmented reality video feeds. Via a Real-time Tech Support app on their mobile phone, field technicians can initiate an interactive video call with their dealer back-office staff and invite a Volvo product expert and engineer, if required, to provide more expertise in diagnosing and resolving an issue. Preventing frustrating downtime for the customer and multiple visits to the job site for field technicians, this new support speeds up fault-tracing, minimizes travel, and gets the machine back on the job much sooner.

Reduce transport emissions with efficient loading

As part of a new digital service called Efficient Load Out, trucks and excavators are now able to communicate more effectively with each other on the job site, increasing the efficiency of their workflow and, therefore, reducing transport emissions. After successful field tests with construction company NCC, a first for this type of service, it proved possible to secure between 96% and 100% load utilization for each transport, compared with the typical 87%. Data show that 350,000 tonnes were excavated and transported in 11,000 trips during the pilot run. The connected process helped reduce the number of trips by 1,600 – and is expected to save around 8,000 transports once the whole project is completed.

When both excavator operators and truck drivers are logged in to the system, a notification alerts the excavator operator when there is a truck available for loading nearby. During the loading process, the excavator measures the weight of the load to the most accurate degree and only once the target weight is reached is the truck driver told to drive to the load’s specific destination. There is also significant value in being able to access all load data through the cloud-based portal – allowing for convenient monitoring to ensure the project delivers on time. And without the need for administrators to manage this process, it allows for a significant cost saving.

Automated grading for double the productivity

The perfect grade is in reach with an ingenious machine control system that automates boom and bucket movements to achieve the exact depth and angle at the touch of a button. Volvo Active Control boosts digging accuracy, allowing jobs to be completed up to 45% faster. With single-lever grading, the arm speed is manually adjusted by the operator while the machine automatically adjusts boom and bucket movements to maintain an even grade and create the desired shape. The steer-by-wire solution can also easily set swing fence, height limit, and depth limit to avoid contact with side obstacles, overhead obstacles such as power lines, and underground hazards such as pipes and cables, all of which not only helps operators to be more productive behind the wheel, but also makes construction sites much safer.

Stay on top of fleet management 

It is easy for fleet managers to become overwhelmed by the mass of data being produced by modern construction machines. What good are all these numbers if it is not easy to make sense of them and gain actionable insights to improve the work environment? Volvo Active Care has been rolled out globally to proactively take on the burden of monitoring and reporting machine health, freeing customers to get on with the job at hand. It is an intelligent telematics service that bundles together the monitoring of machine health and the provision of weekly reports to help reduce downtime. Remote analysis delivers multiple benefits, including catching problems before they become failures and helping to smooth service scheduling. By knowing what the problem is, dealer technicians can make fewer trips to the customer site and arrive with the right tools, parts, and expertise to increase the opportunity for a first-visit fix. This all amounts to increased uptime and reduced cost for the customer.

Get the full view with 3D modelling

Volvo CE’s Dig Assist machine control application for excavators has been updated with new features that make it even faster and easier to create plans and put more information at the operators’ fingertips – once again raising the bar on productivity, efficiency, and safety in digging operations. Via the Dig Assist app on the Volvo Co-Pilot interface, operators can choose from 2D, In-Field Design, and 3D tools from the comfort of the cab. Whilst the 2D app is intended for site levelling and profiling slopes, and the In-Field Design option allows operators to go from a paper drawing to a digital excavation model in minutes via GNSS and RTK navigation technology, the 3D option is the ideal choice for complex and larger infrastructure projects. Providing full three-dimensional functionality, Topcon 3D-MC and Trimble Earthworks for Dig Assist allow designs to be uploaded directly into the Volvo Co-Pilot – this ability to offer both solutions is unique to Volvo; simply import a project file and get to work.

Reach the next level with gamified operator training

An app which helps operators make small but important improvements every time is taking its cue from the world of gaming. Operator Coaching forms part of the Load Assist family and is now available in select markets across the world. The latest upgrade gives operators of Volvo’s L110H to L260H wheel loaders real-time information so that they can better understand how their actions influence output. A bit like chasing a top score on a computer game, the new feature allows operators to set targets and objectives for continual performance improvement. Even experienced and proficient operators benefit from the advantages of the new app, as early adopters have reported that it helps them to see their behaviour reflected back in a non-judgemental way, analyse their productivity from a pure efficiency standpoint, and then suggests areas of improvement they would never have considered before. Operator Coaching is just one example of how gaming trends are influencing the world of construction. 

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