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Thu April 05, 2018 - National Edition
The cost of owning a machine is much more than just the initial purchase price.
Operating costs begin as soon as the engine is started, so knowing the combined life cycle costs and equipping machines with the right features is crucial in getting a good return on investment.
Here we look at the innovations helping to reduce machine costs.
1. It's good to be idle
It stands to reason that if you cut down on fuel usage, you'll be saving valuable money. There's no point in leaving an engine running when it's not being used. Volvo excavators are equipped with an auto engine shutdown feature that automatically engages if the machine has been motionless for a predetermined time, set by the operator. For most owners, fuel consumption is the number one operating cost, so cutting back on unnecessary engine use will save both fuel and money.
2. Less is more
One factor that most significantly impacts a machine's resale value is its total operating hours — the fewer it has done the higher the machine value. So, fitting a machine with telematics capabilities that can monitor operator behavior and machine usage is one of the best ways to identify periods of inactivity when machines can be switched off. Savings in fuel and resale value can be significant. Imagine for example two of the exact same machines doing the same work on the same site. Machine A runs at 50 percent idle time, running about 2,000 hours a year, and Machine B at 25 percent with 1,500 hours a year. The difference in resale value after about five years could be upwards of $20,000 depending on machine size.
3. The secret of app-iness
Machine efficiency can vary by up to 40 percent according to the skill of the operator so if you can make the job easier, productivity is sure to rise and costs fall. Intuitive machine control systems like Volvo DigAssist give operators real-time guidance to ensure they are completing tasks more quickly, accurately and safely — all of which help to reduce operating costs.
4. Like real life. Only Better
No longer confined to video games, virtual reality (VR) is capable of providing advanced operating training simulations that can drastically improve performance on job sites — in turn preventing accidents and delays. With the costs of VR software decreasing, the financial benefits of offering a realistic environment for trainee operators becomes more apparent. Training workers in a virtual world allows operators to be confident that they are working to their optimum capacity when they are out on site, as well as eliminating the fuel costs and wear and tear of real machines when used for training.
5. Great oil rush
Proactive machine monitoring that identifies problems before they occur is a clever way to reduce costs. Like a blood test, oil quality can tell a lot about the health of a machine. Technology is now available that uses sensors to constantly monitor the quality of an engine's oil. This allows owners to not only see when an oil change is required but spot any potential issues that need fixing before oil quality deteriorates — all without the need to wait for an engineer to come out. Not only is this technology increasing machine reliability but also reducing total cost of ownership.
6. The electric future
Fully electrified machines may not yet be commonplace, but Volvo CE has illustrated the potential power of electromobility through its concept hauler HX1 prototype, which when used in an all-electric quarry research project, is helping achieve the target of reducing carbon emissions by up to 95 percent and cutting total cost of ownership by 25 percent. As soon as the technology is robust and proven and the industry begins the shift to fully accepting these new technologies the cost benefits of hybrid and electric machines are destined to be substantial.