The X Series excavators have a new upper structure that allows JCB to mount the main boom centrally, rather than at an offset, reducing stress on the slew ring and increasing digging accuracy. (All images: JCB)

JCB reveals new crawler excavators, fully electric mini excavator

Global construction, agricultural and industrial equipment manufacturer JCB is meeting the current upturn in demand for machinery with the launch of a host of new and updated equipment. This includes the first models in a completely new range of crawler excavators, a range of lithium-ion-powered scissor lifts, along with the British firm’s first full-electric-drive mini excavator, unveiled in pre-production form at a March press event.

Chief executive officer Graeme Macdonald said that the global market for construction equipment rose by 21% in 2017, to more than 897,000 units. Crawler excavators, in particular, were up by 47%, with mini excavator sales rising by 23%, to more than 240,000 machines worldwide.

“We are on a path of growth and markets around the world are in good shape,” he said.

X Series excavators

JCB has invested £110m (approximately $155m) and four years in the development of a completely new line of crawler excavators. The X Series machines boast new levels of durability and build quality, promising lower fuel consumption, increased production, a more comfortable operator cab and reduced total cost of ownership.

The first two models to arrive are the 22-tonne 220X and the 21-tonne 210X, which has a slightly lighter counterweight and reduced performance. Both machines point the way forward to a complete range of excavators, as JCB will transition from its existing JS line of machines.

The X Series excavators have a new upper structure that is 200 mm (7.9 in) wider than previous models, at 2.7 m (106.3 in) overall. This has allowed JCB to mount the main boom centrally, rather than at an offset, reducing stress on the slew ring and increasing digging accuracy for the operator. A 38% larger slew motor delivers 16% higher slew torque.

The machines are powered by JCB’s existing 4.8-L Tier 4 Final/EU Stage IV EcoMAX diesel engine, providing 129 kW (173 hp) and 690 N·m (509 lb·ft). This drives twin variable-displacement axial piston pumps from Kawasaki that provide 2 x 228 L/min (60.2 gal/min) of hydraulic flow. JCB has stayed with Kayaba hydraulic valve blocks but has increased spool sizes by 14% for improved flow.

In addition, the company has moved to larger, 25-mm Gates hydraulic hoses with four-bolt flanged connections, delivering reduced backpressure and increased efficiency. The company claims that the 220X delivers a 15% fuel consumption benefit compared to the previous generation, while providing a 10% increase in digging productivity. The machines are offered GPS-ready from the factory, to work with a range of 2D and 3D machine guidance systems.

The X Series uses the proven undercarriage from the previous-generation machines and the same sturdy main boom and dipper arm designs. However, the operator’s cab is all-new and is now produced in-house by JCB Cabs.  Taking advantage of the wider upper structure, the cab is now a full 1 m (39.4 in) wide and 100 mm (3.94 in) longer than the older JS model. That means an internal volume that is 15% larger than the last generation of machines.

Mounted on double isolating viscous mounts, the cab is a full 5 dB quieter than its predecessor, with an interval noise level of just 68 dB. It boasts a new HVAC system with a 43% increase in capacity and 11 air vents. JCB has worked with seat provider Grammer to offer a choice of three operator seats that include heating and cooling functions. The CommandPlus cab has joysticks and controls mounted on the seat unit, to allow them to move with the operator. Improved ergonomics include a 7-in monitor with an automotive-style rotary controller and simplified switchgear, all mounted to the right of the operator’s seat.

The new upper body work features a pronounced skirt that is designed to provide impact zones on the rear corners. New cassette-style service doors offer increased strength and durability, while providing easy access to service points. Indeed, the X Series machines boast a 30% improvement in SAE service rating. The machines also offer 5000-hour hydraulic oil changes and 2000-hour hydraulic filter intervals, while an auto-lube system is available from the factory. The latest-generation Donaldson Powercore air filter also offers a 2000-hour service life, reducing operating costs.

All X Series machines will be delivered with JCB’s LiveLink telematics system, providing location and operating data remotely to service departments and management.

JCB has gone to extreme lengths to ensure durability and reliability with the new excavators. Up to 42% of the machine is now built in subassemblies off the main line, to ensure quality targets are met. There are now 13 quality inspections, covering more than 1100 checks during assembly. The company even put an excavator on an automotive shaker rig for 150 hours, simulating 15,000 operating hours, while climate testing was carried out from -30 to +55°C (-22 to +131°F).

“Every detail of these excavators has been examined and perfected to provide maximum durability and reliability in operation,” said Tim Burnhope, JCB’s Chief Innovation and Growth Officer.

Electric mini excavator

JCB has unveiled its first electric mini excavator, offering a zero-emission solution for contractors working within buildings, or in a noise-sensitive environment. Based on the Premium version of the company’s 19C-1 mini, with electrohydraulic servo controls, the machine swaps the diesel engine for a permanent magnet motor. This is connected to the standard excavator’s Bosch Rexroth load-sensing hydraulic pumps, while the rest of the machine’s driveline is unchanged.

Power is supplied by three latest-generation NMC (nickel-manganese-cobalt oxide) automotive 104 A·h (5 kW·h) lithium-ion batteries, offering a total 312 A·h (15 kW·h) output through a 48-V electrical system. The instant torque afforded by the electric motor ensures that performance is at least on par with the diesel-driven model, while productivity is unchanged. However, the electric machine produces no emissions and boasts an external noise level that is 7 dB lower than the standard 19C-1.

JCB said that the machine has enough power to work through a full shift on normal duties, though constant hard digging would reduce the operating time to around four hours. The E-TEC has a built-in charging system that will allow a six-hour recharge from a 230-V supply. An optional rapid charger will allow a fast charge in just 2.5 hours using suitable charging infrastructure, while the standard charger can also be used with a 110-V supply.

The machine carries a compact hydraulic oil cooler with a thermostatic electric fan, but otherwise there is no requirement for a cooling pack. With no engine oil or fuel filters, service and maintenance are minimized and the machine has graphite-impregnated bushes on all pins to allow 500-hour greasing intervals.

Initially the mini excavator will be offered with a ROPS/TOPS and FOGS canopy; there is no cab option. However, as the E-TEC is based on the Premium 19C-1, the machine boasts proportional rocker switches for auxiliary functions and for boom offset. It also has a membrane switch pad for additional controls and the fuel meter has been changed for a charge level readout. A smartphone app can be installed that will provide battery charge information remotely through the excavator’s sophisticated battery management system.

JCB said that the 19C-1 E-TEC can power all of the attachments available with the standard model, making the machine ideal for demolition and tunnel work, as well as construction within buildings.

There is no on-sale date available yet but expect the machine to be available to customers later in the year, with additional electric models to follow.

“The 19C-1 E-TEC will provide contractors with a zero-emission, low-noise solution allowing them to work independently, in late-night urban conditions, within buildings and even in rail tunnels, with no requirement for costly exhaust extraction equipment,” said Burnhope. “The 19C-1 E-TEC points the way to a new zero-emission future for JCB mini excavators.”

Lithium-ion scissor lifts

Just one year after its entry into the powered access market, JCB Access has launched a range of five scissor lifts powered by lithium-ion battery packs. The five machines offer working heights of 6.6 m through to 10.1 m and will compete alongside the firm’s standard lead-acid battery powered models.

However, unlike the lead-acid equipment, lithium-ion batteries offer up to 40% longer operation, with a 50% reduction in recharging times. In addition, there is less risk of battery abuse or incorrect recharging, which can see a conventional lead-acid machine consuming three to four sets of batteries in its lifetime. The lithium-ion solution has been designed to provide up to 2000 recharging cycles, four times as many as a lead-acid battery and in line with the lifetime of the machine. Lithium-ion batteries also require no maintenance, no topping up with fluid, and there are no hydrogen emissions during recharging.

JCB Access has developed a Battery Management System that allows customers to monitor the health and charge of each cell within the battery pack. The BMS works with the motor controller to ensure that batteries deliver maximum power and performance throughout their lifespan.

“The main customer benefit is ease of charging, with no worries about short charging periods,” said Phil Graysmark, Sales Director at JCB Access. “The battery life equals the life of the machine, so there is a greatly reduced requirement for replacement batteries. This is a more environmentally friendly solution.”

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