The Construction Site of Tomorrow

02 March 2022

It is clear to everyone that we are dealing with a climate problem (caused by CO2 emissions, among other things) and an environmental problem (nitrogen, NOx and particulate matter), noise nuisance and odor nuisance. Within the implementation techniques of the groundwork, road construction and hydraulic engineering (GWW sector), the use of (heavy) equipment is by far the largest polluting factor that contributes to this. As a result, the civil engineering sector is increasingly aware of the fact that activities must cause fewer emissions and that clients include ''zero emissions'' as a criterion in their tenders. They are looking for efficient solutions and possibilities to significantly reduce the emissions of the propulsion techniques. The introduction of zero-emission earth-moving machines is the most important measure, and it also has a very positive impact on the rest of the sustainability of our sector.

The aim of the sector is to realize zero emissions with the civil engineering work as quickly as possible. Minister Schouten (Agriculture) has proposed a reduction of nitrogen emissions of 26% in 2030, but the Remkes Advisory Board advocates that emissions from construction projects be reduced by 80% in a maximum of 10 years, resulting in a reduction of 19.2 kton NOx per year to 3.8 ktonnes of NOx per year measured at construction machines and construction logistics.

In the search for possibilities to reduce emissions, a consortium of progressive civil engineering contractors, FIER Automotive and research institute TNO, together with supplier Staad, has started with the proposal to take the next major step towards zero emissions in the civil engineering sector. , through the use of eight electric earth-moving machines in combination with interchangeable power boxes.

This group of leaders consisting of; Van der Zanden, Boomrooierij Weijtmans, Huybregts Loon- en Grondwerkbedrijf, Gebr. Coremans earthworks, Janssen Group, Gebr. van de Brand and van Oort and J. Veldhuizen Westbroek have decided to take the lead and have joined forces in the consortium 'The construction site of tomorrow', which will jointly realize a living lab project within the DKTI scheme of the RVO with the following motivation:

  1. Collecting knowledge about the use of electric earth-moving machines during tests with TNO in various applications with on-site charging and/or changing the power boxes, and sharing this knowledge with each other;
  2. Being ready for the future, in particular prepared for the demand for Zero Emission on the construction site from municipal or provincial governments;
  3. To kick-start the major upscaling of sustainability projects in the sector.

The pilot project 'The Construction Site of Tomorrow' will be further developed together with the partners in order to be optimally prepared for the deployment and testing of the machines. The machines are used by the civil engineering partners in (as much as possible) normal activities, and are monitored by TNO to perform analyzes and make recommendations based on collected data. This feedback will be sent to the GWW partners, but will also be analyzed in detail with the supplier Staad for the purpose of improving the machines. An analysis is also carried out on the usability, the costs of use in relation to the diesel equipment and the financial feasibility.

One of the unique aspects of the project is the use of interchangeable power boxes, just like a cordless drill, but on a (very) large scale. The fact that an earth-moving machine does not have to go to the charging station, but that batteries can be changed, is a requirement for heavy equipment to be able to run 24/7. In addition, the charging system will be comparable in technology to that used to charge an electric car. The combination of these two elements makes the technology highly scalable in theory. With this consortium we want to experience this in practice.

Thanks to the very strong consortium, this project will give a significant boost to zero-emission working in the civil engineering sector. These parties come from all over the country, with different use cases, and will therefore be able to share the lessons and probably also the enthusiasm with the entire civil engineering sector.

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