Those distinct sounds – and smells – of construction equipment are changing.
Bobcat, one of the world’s largest suppliers of compact equipment, is going green. The company is introducing new electric options for its popular excavators and loaders.
Gone is the diesel fuel, hydraulic fluid, noise, and vibration.
These machines are mostly silent and sound like a robot out of a sci-fi movie.
“My immediate reaction was wow… very quiet… you can’t even tell that it’s on,” said Mike Watrin, who has 35 years with Public Works in Los Angeles.
“We do everything from fixing the streets to doing landscaping jobs, emergency work,” said Watrin.
He says homeowners and businesses will love less noise while work is being done, but people like him that actually operate the machinery won’t miss the vibration.
“Everything’s really the same, it’s just a lot quieter and a lot less stress on your body,” said Watrin.
With a bit of instruction, I was even able to hop onto the company’s small excavator, scoop up a pile of dirt, rotate the machine and drop it off to another location.
The machine is smooth, powerful and software updates could add new features including remote operation and even automation.
“In a machine that’s basically been the same for the last 65 years… we’re going to put technology on it and make it totally different in the next 5 years,” said Joel Honeyman, Vice President of Global Innovation at Bobcat.
The battery lasts about 4 hours, and the equipment itself costs about 3 times more than traditional gas units, but Bobcat says both of those numbers should improve over time.
While city, state and governments look into adopting the new electric fleet, it will be available at Sunbelt Rentals locations starting in July.