Eivind Hafslund

Project Leader Special Products.

An electric excavator? Just do it!

Norway has a world premiere: it’s the first country to see a fully electric excavator at work. And it has Pon Equipment to thank for that. To be sure, the world’s first e-excavator won’t be alone for long

How can we respond to the sustainability mega-trend?” That was the question Erik Sollerud, Managing Director of Pon Equipment Norway, asked
during a meeting in his office with colleagues, two years ago. “Could we design a fully electric excavator?”, he proposed. Only one man in the room was prepared to second the idea, without any reservation. That man was Eivind Hafslund. “To be honest, I wasn’t totally sure what I was giving my vote to”, quips Eivind. But it got the ball rolling. There were several follow-up talks; after all, we’re a dealer for Caterpillar, we don’t build excavators. But a few weeks later Erik announced: “Let’s do this!”

Z Line, Pon, Cat, Eivind Hafslund
Eivind Hafslund, Project Leader Special Products in Pon Equipment, in front of ‘his’ electric excavator.

Digging for adventure
Eivind has since fulfilled the role of Project Leader for the electric excavator Project. An adventure that took some time to gather pace. “We applied for a special government grant which took seven months to come through. We were then able to actually procure the parts and set to work. Caterpillar assisted by furnishing the required data and 3D drawings. Via Pon Power, we procured an electrical engine with enough capacity to
handle heavy digging.”

Piecing it all together
“The biggest challenge”, explains Eivind, “was fitting all the necessary parts in an existing CAT model. All those parts had to be installed logically in accessible places. Servicing the machine shouldn’t be awkward and repairs ideally should occur in a simple manner to the extent possible. That took
some figuring.”

The puzzle, however, was solved. Meanwhile, the first prototype has performed excavation work at a number of locations. In normal conditions, the battery lets the machine operate from 5 to 7 hours. “With more demanding work, in a single location, the machine can be connected to the power grid by means of a cable and, in principle, can continue until the job is done.”

A winner
The first three electric excavators were delivered to customers in 2018. With another four deliveries slated for the first half of the year, the project is already a success. Thereafter, electric models in the new NGH-series of
Caterpillar are scheduled. “Those machines actually have different dimensions”, notes Eivind. “So, another puzzle to look forward to. But that won’t stop us!”