Every day, connected solutions become smarter. While you labor hard on the job site, hundreds of thousands of data points quietly work in the background to allow you to perform more securely, efficiently, and sustainably than ever before.

Electric machines may be the face of our net-zero future, but the actual heart of a construction site when it comes to a more sustainable style of working is the connection that is sifting the numbers, pushing out important information to every section of the site, and keeping operations going smoothly. Being a member of this digital ecosystem not only helps us achieve our aim of making the world a better place by unlocking efficiencies throughout the value chain, but it also allows for more efficient communication in our individual jobs. We are only touching the surface of what technology is capable of, but let’s take a look at some of the most recent advancements that are significantly contributing to increased safety, uptime, and fuel efficiency.

  1. Prevent downtime with virtual real-time tech support

Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) is enabling dealer field technicians to connect directly to their back office product specialists, as well as Volvo product experts and engineers, via live augmented reality video feeds to diagnose and address any machine faults even faster than before. Field technicians can conduct an interactive video conversation with their dealer back-office employees and, if necessary, request a Volvo product specialist and engineer to provide extra knowledge in diagnosing and fixing an issue using a Real-time Tech Support app on their mobile phone. This new support speeds up fault-tracing, minimizes travel, and puts the machine back on the work considerably sooner, avoiding annoying downtime for the client and several visits to the jobsite for field technicians.

2. Reduce transport emission with efficient loading

As part of a new digital service called Efficient Load Out, trucks and excavators are now able to communicate more effectively with each other on the job site, increasing the efficiency of their work flow and therefore reducing transport emissions. After successful field tests with construction company NCC, a first for this type of service, it proved possible to secure between 96% and 100% load utilization for each transport, compared to the typical 87%. Data shows that 350,000 tons have been excavated and transported in 11,000 trips during the pilot run. The connected process helped reduce the number of trips by 1,600 – and it’s expected to save around 8,000 transports once the whole project is completed. When both excavator operators and truck drivers are logged in to the system, a notification alerts the excavator operator when there is a truck available for loading nearby. During the loading process, the excavator measures the weight of the load to the most accurate degree and only once the goal weight is reached, is the truck driver told to drive to its specific destination. There is also significant value in being able to access all load data through the cloud based portal – allowing for convenient monitoring to ensure the project delivers on time. And without the need for administrators to manage this process, it allows for a significant cost saving.

3. Automated grading for double the productivity

With an ingenious machine control system that automates boom and bucket movements to achieve the correct depth and angle at the push of a button, the perfect grade is within grasp. Volvo Active Control improves digging accuracy and speeds the work completion by up to 45 percent. The arm speed is manually set by the operator with single-lever grading, while the machine automatically adjusts boom and bucket movements to maintain an even grade and make the required shape. To avoid interaction with side obstructions, overhead obstacles such as power lines, and underground risks such as pipelines and cables, the steer-by-wire system may easily configure swing fence, height limit, and depth limit. All of this not only helps operators be more productive behind the wheel, but it also improves the environment. 

4. Stay on top of fleet management

It’s easy for fleet managers to become overwhelmed by the mass of data being produced by modern construction machines. What good are all these numbers if it’s not easy to make sense of them and take actionable insights to improve the work environment? Volvo ACTIVE CARE has been rolled out globally to proactively take on the burden of monitoring and reporting machine health, freeing customers to get on with the job in hand. It is an intelligent telematics service that bundles together the monitoring of machine health and the provision of weekly reports that together help reduce downtime. Remote analysis delivers multiple benefits, including catching problems before they become failures and helping smooth service scheduling. By knowing what the problem is, dealer technicians need to make fewer trips to the customer site and arrive with the right tools, parts and expertise to increase the opportunity for a first visit fix. This all amounts to increased uptime and reduced cost for the customer.

5. Get the full view with 3D modelling

Volvo CE’s Dig Assist machine control application for excavators has been updated with new features that make it even faster and easier to create plans and put more information at operators’ fingertips – raising the bar once again on productivity, efficiency and safety in digging operations. Via the Dig Assist app on the Volvo Co-Pilot interface, operators can choose from 2D, In-Field Design and 3D tools right from the comfort of the cab. While the 2D app is intended for site levelling and profiling slopes, and the In-Field Design option allows operators to go from a paper drawing to a digital excavation model in minutes via GNSS and RTK navigation technology, it is the 3D option that is the ideal choice for complex and larger infrastructure projects. Providing full three-dimensional functionality, Topcon 3D-MC and Trimble Earthworks for Dig Assist allow designs to be uploaded directly into the Volvo Co-Pilot – this ability to offer both solutions is unique to Volvo. Simply import a project file and get to work.

6. Reach the next level with gamified Operator Training

An app which helps operators make small but important improvements every time is taking its cue from the world of gaming. Operator Coaching forms part of the Load Assist family and is now available in select markets across the world. The latest upgrade gives operators of Volvo’s L110H to L260H wheel loaders real-time information so that they can better understand how their actions influence output. A bit like chasing a top score on a computer game, the new feature allows operators to set targets and objectives for continual performance improvement. Even experienced and proficient operators benefit from the advantages of the new app, as early adopters have reported that it helps them to see their behaviour reflected back in a non-judgemental way, to analyze their productivity from a pure efficiency standpoint and then to suggest areas of improvement they would never have considered before. Operator Coaching is just one example of how gaming trends are influencing the world of construction.

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