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Volvo Construction Adds New Product Class of Pipelayers

Wed September 12, 2007 - National Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

Volvo Construction Equipment has announced the development of a new product class of pipelaying machines targeting, primarily, contractors in the on-shore oil and gas industry. It is anticipated that the new class will be available to the North America market in the second quarter of 2008.

The Volvo Pipelayer represents a major technical advance over traditional pipelaying dozers with a side-based boom, the basic design of which originated in the 1930’s and has changed little since, according to the manufacturer.

The Volvo class of purpose-built pipelaying equipment includes five models — the Volvo PL4611C, Volvo PL4608C, Volvo PL2904C, Volvo PL7015C and Volvo PL2102C. Lift capacities range from 22 to 165 tons (20 to 150 t), originating from an adaptation of Volvo excavator-machines combined with modern lifting technology.

With its excavator configuration, the new Volvo equipment provides a 360-degree swing with full lifting performance and functionality at all radius positions — a function unattainable with conventional pipelayers. Conventional dozer side-based booms are limited to a fixed position for lifting off one side only with boom mountings on the outside of the track roller frames, limiting stability. By comparison, the Volvo Pipelayer has a wider gauge, lower center of gravity, and a lifting platform where the boom is mounted inboard of the track frame and closer to the machine’s centerline. This combination offers stability to work on slopes with much higher lift capacities — up to 29 percent higher — than conventional equipment.

The largest Volvo pipelayer model, the Volvo PL7015C, has a 165-ton maximum tipping lift capacity, a capacity 41 percent higher than the largest pipelaying side-based boom dozer. The boom, car body, and roller frames also provide structural integrity to manage these higher loads.

Volvo Pipelayers have significantly longer booms that offer higher hook height for better work positioning or in working further away from the trench to avoid caving in side walls. Boom lengths range from 30 to 38 ft. (9.1 to 11.6 m), depending on model size, compared to typical dozer side-based booms of 20 to 28 ft. (6.1 to 8.5 m).


Volvo Pipelayers are fitted with the modern on-board Load Management System (LMS) that is designed to enable the operator to better determine what he can safely pick up depending on the angle of the boom, the cab’s position relative to the tracks, and the incline on which the machine is operating.

Load charts are constantly updated for 360-degree rotation and infinite machine geometries up to a 35-degree grade slope. The system matches and coordinates these factors to current operating conditions via a graphic display on a monitor in the cab, including a wide variety of warning and operational aids.

Load-indicating light bars, located on the boom tips, provide visible warning to the operator, adjacent operators and ground personnel to optimize safety and site management. The LMS is a major improvement over traditional side-based booms that have only been rated for flat, level ground operation and not generally available with onboard monitoring.

The new Volvo Pipelayer is equipped with an anti-two-block device as standard, designed to improve safety with auto kick-out at full lift. Visibility is substantially improved over conventional machines due to elevated cabs and an asymmetric boom design. The wide gauge of the Volvo Pipelayer also allows the straddling of the trench if this suits the project layout.

Load Positioning

Dozer side-based booms do not swing through positions. Positioning a load with these conventional machines often requires jockeying the entire machine by twisting and turning the tracks, a method that is time consuming, inaccurate, and can be unsafe.

The Volvo Pipelayer positions its load smoothly by simply swinging the upper structure — just like an excavator. The result is precise, efficient load positioning that increases both productivity and safety. These new machines also have a mechanical, upper structure swing lock for working on severe grades.

The excavator undercarriage system allows for counter-rotation of the tracks for easy positioning and directional changes. High-ground clearance ensures the ability to work in rugged terrain and muddy conditions. Single and double Grouser shoes are available to ensure solid footing in most conditions.


One of the key benefits of the new Volvo Pipelayer is the cost-saving versatility of its design. Conventional side-based boom dozers, traditionally built on a heavily modified track-type platform, cannot be adapted for other uses while the Volvo Pipelayer equipment, built on the Volvo excavator platform, is a multipurpose machine.

When not being used for laying pipe, the Volvo Pipelayer can be quickly converted into a high-production excavator or used in applications that would ordinarily require a crane in a variety of applications where their heavy-lift capability can be brought into play, according to the manufacturer.


Adding to the versatility of the Volvo Pipe layer is its ease of transportation.

Transportation requirements and restrictions often limit optimum machine size selection on a project or in the anticipation of future projects. Larger models of the Volvo Pipelayer — where transport is an issue — are designed with variable gauge or easily removable track side frames, counterweights and booms. This permits easy disassembly to roadable weight modules.

The new equipment can self-disassemble and self-reassemble without the need for other lifting machine assistance. The entire process — either way — can be accomplished in less than one hour.

This creates an ease and efficiency of transportation that lowers the cost of ownership considerably over the lifetime of the machine.

The Volvo Care Cab

The Volvo Pipelayer is equipped with the Volvo Care Cab, an operator environment well known for its spaciousness, visibility, ergonomic controls and climate control. The features of the Volvo Care Cab increase operator comfort and efficiency — and are especially welcome on demanding pipeline projects where site conditions can be extremely harsh.

For more information, call 828/650-2000 or visit

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