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Wheeled excavators have been staples in construction fleets throughout Europe and Asia for decades, but in the United States they’ve been slow to catch on, largely due to lack of available machines in the market. With several manufacturers, including Volvo, introducing a slew of new wheeled size classes into the North American market, there’s an opportunity for contractors to rethink the way they build their fleets. Here’s what you need to know about wheeled excavators.
1. You’re not sacrificing performance
A common misconception about wheeled excavators is that you lose the stability of a crawler. That is simply not the case. With outriggers, a wheeled excavator is every bit as stable as a comparable crawler — and you won’t be sacrificing on power, breakout/tearout forces, reach or digging depth, either.
2. They’re not just for roadside work
Wheeled excavators are great for roadside work due to their mobility and versatility. Not only can they work in narrow lanes for less traffic disturbance, but they’re able to easily transition from placing concrete barriers to digging after a quick attachment swap. But wheeled excavators can do so much more than just roadside work. Swap out an outrigger for a dozer blade, add a tilt rotator, and you have an incredibly versatile and mobile machine for utility installation. Outfit the machine with a hydraulically elevating cab and a grab arm with grapple for a mobile material handler. Add a guarding package and ventilation system, and it’s the perfect machine for waste handling. Add solid tires and a rotation grapple, and you can travel around a scrap yard with enough finesse to dismantle a car, component by component. Switch from a one-piece to two-piece boom for extra lift capacity in tight quarters. For added benefit, a short-swing wheeled excavator can turn within one lane of traffic. With this level of versatility, replacing a backhoe with a wheeled excavator starts to become a no-brainer for many applications.
3. You’ll save on labor and cleanup
With a top speed of 18.6 mph, you can avoid having to use a lowboy and a CDL for around-town work. Outfit the trailer with brakes, and you can haul up to an 8.5-ton trailer with all your supporting tools and attachments. That saves time and labor. Wheeled excavators don’t damage asphalt the way tracks do, which means less time and money spent on cleanup.
4. You’ll spend less time repositioning
Tilt rotators, such as the Steelwrist available on Volvo wheeled excavators, can drastically improve productivity. Not only do they allow for 360-degree rotation of the attachment, but also 45-degree tilt from the left or right sides. The Steelwrist also has a claw on the back — essentially a two-finger grapple — that makes it great for utility work. Imagine replacing a section of pipe. Simply park your machine in a stationary position and adjust the bucket angle to get the top, sides, and bottom of the pipe, and then rotate it 180 degrees, open the claw, grab the pipe, pull it out of the ground, use that same claw to lower in the replacement pipe, and the bucket can be rotated 180 degrees to start filling in the materials — all without repositioning the machine a single time.
5. You can expect more from Volvo
There are a number of differentiators you can expect from Volvo. First, the Smart View feature, which provides 360-degree aerial visibility of the machine’s surroundings from inside the cab. Secondly, Volvo wheeled excavators are now covered under the Lifetime Frame and Structure Warranty, which covers the boom and arm for the entirety of the initial period of ownership. Lastly, Volvo is undergoing a significant wheeled excavator lineup expansion. In addition to the EW60E, EW160E and EW180E, Volvo is adding a conventional swing EW220E and a EW240E material handler, as well as short swing EWR150E and EWR170E models — all in early 2018.
To learn more about Volvo wheeled excavators, visit volvoce.com/ExFactor.