Is the future of construction equipment electric?

13 June 2022

Due to (among other things) various climate measures and regulations to curb emissions, construction equipment is subject to electrification. That evolution poses many advantages, but the roll-out is not the same for all machine types. While already 50% of mobile elevating work platforms are electric, small earth-movers and telehandlers still have a lot of catching up to do. As a parts supplier, TVH pays close attention to the electric changes in the market. We talked about them with Lorenz Verfaillie, Director Electronics International at TVH.


About the expert

Lorenz Verfaillie began his career at TVH in 1996 as an Electronics Engineer. During his 25+ years at the company, he took an active part in the growth of the Electronics Department. He oversaw the recruitment of extra colleagues and played an important role in the development of several repair teams, a Purchasing & Business Development team and an R&D and Quality team. Since 2018, he is Director Electronics International.


The importance of electrification


“One could say that electrification is an unavoidable development”, Lorenz begins. “All over the globe, targets are being set to reduce emissions and to mitigate the effects of global warming. Just think of the European Green Deal, for example, which aims to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. In addition, more and more cities are establishing emission standards, which has significantly increased the need for zero-emission machines in those urban environments.”

Why go electric?

“Electrification seems inevitable, but electric equipment luckily poses many advantages”, Lorenz nuances. “Currently, the total cost of ownership is much lower for electric vehicles (EV) than for their counterparts with internal combustion engine. Even though they have a higher purchase cost, the operating costs of EV are actually about 40 to 60% lower. That is a result of their higher efficiency and lower maintenance costs. However, the cost of the charging infrastructure must also be taken into account, which is no small investment. Another advantage of electric machines is that they are quieter and that they produce less vibration, leading to less noise pollution for workers and the environment. They are also more accurate and faster to operate, since an electric motor instantly delivers its full torque.”


Electrification in construction

The number of electric machines in construction is definitely increasing, but there are significant differences between machine types.


Mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs)

Mobile elevating work platforms are undoubtedly the furthest along when it comes to electrification”, Lorenz explains. “Today, about 50% of all MEWPs in use are electric. Those machines are often operated indoors and regularly remain stationary, so they are ideal for electrification. However, that process is still in full swing and is greatly driven by increased regulation. Therefore, it is to be expected that the percentage of electric mobile elevating work platforms will continue to rise until it reaches an unavoidable ceiling.”

Small earth-movers and telehandlers

“For small earth-movers and telehandlers, the situation is completely different, since only a small percentage of machines sold are fully electric. But that might soon change. While electric models were powered by cable in the past, more and more models are now being equipped with a lithium-ion battery”, Lorenz explains. “The prediction goes that the share of electric small earth-movers and telehandlers will increase by 5% each year. This would mean that by 2030, 30% of all machines produced will be electric.”

An electric future, or something else?

“For years, hydrogen was named as an alternative for lithium-ion. However, there are still few machines that run on hydrogen and the refueling infrastructure is slow to take off. So I doubt that’s where the future might lead”, Lorenz states. “By contrast, many are looking forward to the development of the Solid State Battery, which could be an absolute game-changer. They are safer than lithium-ion, have a higher energy density, they charge faster, … Unfortunately, Solid State Batteries are still too expensive and not ready to be used at this moment. But their development is in full swing and the expectations are high.”


TVH and electrification


“At TVH, we are of course attentive to the development towards electric equipment”, Lorenz points out. “With the rapid expansion of the Electronics Department, for instance, we are not only focusing on electrification, but also on the circular economy. In addition, we also offer remanufactured parts, which come with the same great quality, the same warranty, and the added benefit of a much lower carbon footprint!

Moreover, we have a dedicated sales engineer in our Electronics Department, who can support electrification projects with a team of R&D engineers. We are primarily aiming at small and medium-sized original equipment manufacturers who do not have the necessary resources or knowledge for the development of their electrical applications. TVH can support them in this and also offer them the necessary parts that are involved in electrification.

Sounds interesting? You can read all about it in our Electric System Design brochure!” Lorenz concludes.


Ready to order?

Do you want to access more than 7 million known references for (electric) construction equipment?

  1. Go to the MyPartsFinder search function on MyTotalSource
  2. Enter your machine’s details
  3. Find the parts you need