In Waytek’s inaugural survey in partnership with OEM Off-Highway about electrification in off-road and heavy-duty equipment, the majority of respondents ranked battery power as the No. 1 challenge limiting the progression of electric-powered equipment.
When looking at battery technology specific to electric systems in off-road equipment, the challenges break down into three categories:
1) Timely recharging
2) Duration of continuous operation
3) Battery size
Here’s how each category aids electrification.
Timely Recharging Helps Equipment Return to Work Faster
The batteries inside cell phones provide about 1 kWh—which is enough to power a mobile device for an entire year.
To get a sense for the size and power of batteries that supply energy to off-road equipment, batteries inside this new battery-powered excavator by Hyundai Construction Equipment and Cummins provide 35kWh of energy.
This machine’s design allows it to operate continuously for eight hours and only takes three hours to recharge. Even so, compare its recharging time with instant refueling in combustion engine equipment, and we can start to understand why timely charging is a determining factor in pursuing electrification.
Duration of Continuous Operation Allows Electric Equipment to Perform as long as Traditional Equipment
Timely recharging goes hand in hand with duration of operation because time spent on the charger is time wasted not getting work done.
According to Successful Farming, lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries today hold more than twice the energy since they were introduced in 1991. Even though advances in battery technology continue to progress, electric-powered systems still lack the same intensity and duration as fuel-powered systems.
While traditional equipment can operate for hours on end, quickly refuel and get right back to work, electric equipment needs to be charged for several hours, which cuts into its total duration of operation.
When a crew’s success is based in part on how quickly it can get the job done, duration of continuous operation is an important consideration in a machine’s performance.
Battery Size Determines How Well It Integrates into Current Mechanical Systems
It’s no surprise the more power a battery has, the bigger the battery size needs to be. But a battery that’s nearly the size of the machine it’s powering isn’t ideal, so engineers have focused on new resources that can hold more power in smaller spaces—and it’s paid off.
Li-ion batteries quickly became the battery of choice for their ability to recharge quickly and hold a longer life. As we’ve seen in recent years, engineers continue to pack more power into smaller spaces, showing us technology is on the right track to power heavy-duty equipment.
Battery technology remains a top focus for research since it is an important limiting factor in the progression of electric-powered systems. To see what else survey respondents ranked as challenges against electrification, explore the results here or read the full report.