When power, performance and accessibility come hand in hand.
Words // Ian Edwards
The machinery and products have certainly changed a lot over the years at Volvo. In fact, the very first piece of machinery was a horsedrawn steam engine developed back in 1832 used to run threshing machines at harvest-time.
There were several mergers and name changes that took place in the decades after Johan Theofron founded the original workshop, and it was in 1995 that the company ended up with the name we all know so well today: Volvo Construction Equipment. That same name instantly conjures up visions of award winning and premium quality, performance-based construction machines and equipment for site preparation, trenching, excavation, demolition, truck loading and more.
Volvo’s reputation for bringing more safety, productivity, comfort, quality and innovation, is synonymous as the brand itself, so when we had the opportunity to put two of Volvo’s latest offerings through their paces we jumped at the chance to get these two, brand new and shiny machines in the thick of it.
On offer were the ECR305C, a 30-tonne Reduced Tail Swing machine and the ECR50D, a 5-tonne Reduced Tail Swing machine. As we pulled up in front of these two beasts at our test site, it almost looked like a David and Goliath type battle was about to unfold, with the machines almost being at opposite ends of the Volvo excavator range in terms of size. But a closer inspection would soon prove that both excavators were equal in stature when it came to the overall performance in its class.
ECR305C REDUCED TAIL SWING 30-TONNE EXCAVATOR
When Volvo were in the designing stages of the ECR305C they were obviously looking to create a 30 tonner that offered significantly increased accessibility to confined spaces, whilst still being able to provide optimum power (153KW gross power, with a 1.23- 1.95m³ bucket capacity), stability and comfort that its excavators are renown for. Allowing much greater accessibility to tricky, hard-to-access sites, like busy roads where only one lane is available, next to buildings on busy roads, in between utility poles and in areas where trees and the natural environment throws more than its fair share of challenges at you.
The ECR305CL’s Reduced Tail Swing significantly increases safety when working next to buildings, people or other site obstructions. Improved safety is just one of this excavator’s features; another is improved performance with its powerful Volvo diesel engine with Volvo’s Advanced Combustion Technology (V-ACT). The heavy counterweight gives excellent centre of gravity, a wide working range and powerful lifting capacity through its advanced hydraulic system. Creating extremely efficient and smooth, precise control, which in turn made for an all-round enjoyable operator experience. Volvo-matched hydraulics deliver optimum productivity, command and less operator fatigue.
COMFORT IS KEY
When you are spending basically your entire day or shift operating one of these machines, operator comfort becomes significantly important. An operator that is comfortable and relaxed in his environment is always going to out-perform one who isn’t, and also be less prone to accidents. The team at Volvo has gone to great lengths to ensure the cabin is a quiet, climate controlled and comfortable environment. The class-leading leg room and wide shoulder space will keep even the bigger boys happy and the spring applied, viscous cab mounting reduces whole body vibration.
Combine that with low internal and external noise and you have a cabin fit for a king.
Adjustable consoles are another way Volvo has sought to create the ultimate operator experience. The LCD colour monitor is bright and easy to read even in direct sunlight. An easy lift front windshield stows securely under the roof line for plenty of head room. The lower front windscreen is also removable and stores safely inside the cab.
Doing the job safely is always of utmost importance and the anti-slip, punched steel steps and platforms offer great grip and safety, even when in muddy boots in boggy conditions. Another cool safety feature during high reach situations is the opening roof hatch, which offers optimal view for operator performance. The Volvo Care Cab also offers a solid protective structure and the reversing camera provides increased visibility and safety.
The safety of the operator isn’t Volvo’s only focus, with industry leading fuel efficiency and low noise/emissions, a cleaner and more efficient machine is going to have less impact on the environment. Whilst we are on the subject of the environment the ECR305CL is 95 per cent recyclable and the golden yellow paint is lead-free.
When it comes to the pounding heart that drives this beast, Volvo’s next generation diesel engine uses Volvo Advanced Combustion Technology (V-ACT) to deliver lower emissions and maintain superior performance and fuel efficiency. The engine is EU Stage IIIA compliant and uses precise, high-pressure fuel injectors, turbocharger and air to air intercooler, along with electronic engine controls to optimise the machines performance. It’s pretty safe to say that this beast has got plenty where it counts.
The electrical systems are high-capacity that are well protected, and double-lock harness plugs are used to secure corrosion-free connections. The main relays and solenoid valves are shielded to prevent damage.
To make sure you don’t have any problems getting where you need to go and stopping once you get there, the tracks are each powered by an automatic two-speed shift travel motor, which can travel at high speed when needed and senses when the load requires a safer, lower speed. The brakes are multi-disc, spring-applied and hydraulically released.
The Hydraulic system, which is also known as the “Integrated work mode control” is set up to smash through a pile of work with its high-productivity, high-digging capacity, high manoeuvring precision and excellent fuel economy. The summation system, boom, arm and swing priority along with boom, arm and bucket regeneration provide awesome performance.
All in all, this is one heck of a machine that Volvo should be damn proud of. The level of detail and thought that has gone into this machine is sensational. Between great features like the ECO mode, pre-welded cabin vandal cover locators, load-sensing hydraulics and auto idle we really are impressed with the long list of specs and features that make this a standout excavator.
ECR50D REDUCED TAIL SWING 5-TONNE EXCAVATOR
Next it was time to step into the ECR50D.
This compact 5 tonne, Reduced Tail Swing excavator has been designed to deliver superior digging performance, high lifting capabilities and leading breakout and tearout forces. It’s fully equipped to work on a range of jobs from utilities to site preparation, construction and landscaping, with a catch cry of “reach further, dig deeper and load higher”, it was time to fire up this 5-tonner and see what it could do.
The overall digging experience was great.
There was an increased working range due to an enhanced boom and attachment geometry. The weight of this nimble 5-tonner gives it the ability to handle heavier loads with great stability. Combine that stability with some impressive breakout and tearout forces with great lifting capacity, and you have one heck of a machine.
The automatic two-speed travel function has been improved for impressive travel speed and traction when moving around onsite. The float blade on the ECR50D has been rounded, which provides precision finishing and is perfect for ground levelling, grading and contouring.
Climbing in and out of the cab was an easy process using the three-point safety grip system to step up onto the anti-slip step and through the wide opening door into the cabin.
SPACE AND COMFORT
Once in the cab it was great to see that Volvo has carried across the range the same commitment to providing a comfortable, industry leading cab that provides a spacious and safe workplace with all-round visibility.
The seat was really comfortable and adjustable with ergonomically positioned controls and a great heating system to keep you happily working away on the cold winter days. The seat and consoles are mounted together on the same suspension to keep them moving together, which in turn provides excellent shock and vibration absorption for maximum comfort.
SLEW AND OFFSET
The machine delivers exceptional positioning and control due to its simultaneous boom offset movement (right-hand electroproportional roller) and fingertip slew control (left-hand lever).
MAINTAIN THE BEAST
Servicing and maintenance are important to get the most out of your machine. Keeping this in mind the team at Volvo have put some extra thought and design into how to make this as simple and less time consuming as possible by placing all service check points in a centralised area, which is very accessible from ground level. This will free up valuable time to get more work completed.
All greasing points are located on the same side of the machine and have a 50-hour minimum greasing interval. We really liked Volvo’s patented multifunctional hydraulic oil filter where filtration occurs when the tank is filled or topped up and before the oil returns via the drain lines. The transparent bowl means you can visually check on levels to make early detection of contaminations allowing preventative measures to be carried out before any damage occurs. Nice one Volvo!
The side position of the engine allows you to be able to check on your engine oil, air filter, coolant level and fuel filtration in the one easy-to-access area.
Other key features we were equally impressed with were the automatic shut-down, which turns off the engine after a set amount of time to save fuel. The auto idle feature also kicks in after a set amount of time, or when the left-hand console is raised. The engine instantly returns to the pre-selected speed when the operator touches any control.
Load-sensing hydraulics supply power on demand, lowering fuel consumption. This system provides a quick cycle time while delivering extremely smooth operation through precise control of the machine.
All in all, we were really impressed with both the ECR305C and ECR50D from Volvo.
These machines really are cutting edge in terms of technology and features and their ability to get the job done safely, quickly and in complete comfort for the operator.
If you get a chance to get your backside into one of these machines, go for it – you won’t regret it.
[colored_box color=”yellow”]For more information visit www.cjd.com.au or call 1300 139 804.[/colored_box]