Electrifying the construction industry — The world’s first electric pile driving rig is charged by Kempower’s movable EV fast charger
Junttan, the leading manufacturer of hydraulic pile driving rigs, released the world’s first electric pile driving rig, PMx2e, in October 2021. The fully battery-powered machine is a long-waited breakthrough in the construction field as it can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Kempower T-Series enables fast charging on construction sites where insufficient infrastructure is a common problem.
In piling, conventional diesel-powered pile driving rigs are still widely used. The Finnish company Junttan decided to develop a sustainable alternative to diesel-powered machines which will help to decarbonize the daily operation of the construction industry.
A competent partner helps find the right solutions to speed up the product development process
The idea of a modern, fully electric pile driving rig started to evolve in 2017. The starting point was challenging, and it soon became obvious that a partner specializing in electric solutions was needed.
“The car industry, for example, is miles ahead in electrification compared to the construction industry. Pile driving rigs are special devices for which generic solutions can’t be applied to,” explains Pasi Poranen, CEO at Junttan.
“That is why we were happy to find a local partner that we can trust with providing us the right solutions and reliable products. It allowed us to be able to concentrate on the product development without having to compromise on anything,” Poranen continues.
Mobile fast chargers complement the inadequate power supply infrastructure on construction sites
Construction sites are vast, empty sandlots where everything needs to be built from scratch, even the power supply infrastructure. The temporary power generators that are used on-site provide only a limited power supply, which can cause problems for charging.
“At best, the power supply is only 63 Amps. The power supply is very limited and can be inconstant, too,” explains Tomi Voutilainen, Head of Product Management at Junttan.
To ensure continuous pile driving, the only possible solution was to set up a charging station on-site where batteries could be recharged overnight or whenever necessary. The batteries are recharged by Kempower T-Series which is a mobile fast charger that can be used even with the limited power supply on the construction site.
“Movable EV chargers are the fastest way to set up a charging station anywhere. In addition, the T-Series is weatherproof and can be used anywhere, inside or outside, which makes it perfect for construction sites,” says Erik Kanerva, Regional Sales Director at Kempower.
Long-term solutions help reduce operating costs
As the working conditions are tough, the requirements for a pile driving rig are high. The aim was to ensure that the electric pile driving rig would have the same efficiency and power as a diesel rig. The result, however, is even better.
“Compared to a diesel-powered rig, the PMx2e consumes less energy but delivers more power. It is equipped with two batteries that allow a long operating time, up to 13 hours,” says Poranen.
Switching from diesel-powered rigs to battery-powered ones helps to cut down costs. Firstly, electricity costs much less than petrol or diesel. Secondly, electric machines require less maintenance.
The life cycle of a diesel-powered pile driving rig is 10 –20 years at a minimum, which affects the total cost of ownership of the rig. Since it is impossible to predict that far ahead in the future what the charging solutions will be at that point, Junttan decided to play it safe.
“To be able to guarantee the same life cycle for an all-electric rig, we decided to only use the kind of solutions that do not limit the product use in any way in the future. So, instead of internal chargers, we chose to use DC to DC chargers, which allow maximum charging capacity”, Voutilainen explains.
A mobile charging station is easy and safe for everyone to use
Junttan started to run tests on the charger early on in the product development process. The testing was done at the factory and the test environment.
“Once we had the batteries, we started testing the charger right away. The setting up was quick, just plug and play. This is also the feedback that we have received from the field: The charger is easy to use and does not require any technical skills from pile driver operators,” says Voutilainen.
“Providing user-friendly, safe, and reliable solutions that are perfectly fitted to our customer’s needs is what matters to us,” Kanerva states.