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The electrification evolution for industrial machinery
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The electrification evolution for industrial machinery

At April’s IDTechEx event in Berlin, Germany, Aman Atak explored the rationale behind the proliferation of clean technologies for industrial machinery and operating equipment.

Working with clients in over 80 countries around the world, IDTechEx provides coverage and support on a range of emerging technologies, including: 3D printing; life sciences; robotics; wearables; materials; electric vehicles; and energy storage. The organisation operates under three objectives – research, support and events.

In April, IDTechEx hosted a conference and exhibition in Berlin, Germany, where key industry figures met with SMEs to discuss emerging technologies, including sustainability in industrial machinery. The second largest IDTechEx event will be held in Santa Clara, California, USA, later in the year, with satellite events in Cambridge, UK, Boston, US, Korea and Japan, demonstrating the global relevance of these technologies.

With the electrification of vehicles for personal use increasing, the technology is now starting to be harnessed for industrial purposes, whether that be construction, agriculture or mining vehicles. Government Europa saw IDTechEx technology analyst Aman Atak explore the rationale behind the proliferation of clean technologies for industrial machinery and operating equipment.

Commitments to CO2 reductions

“Companies are making bold commitments to phase out diesel and petrol fuelled vehicles, as can be said for countries such as Norway and the Netherlands,” Atak began. However, she recommended reconsidering some of the incentives for uptake, alongside phased strategies. Some of the key drivers which are influencing uptake include:

  • Fuel economy evaluations;
  • Long-term savings; and
  • The advancement of energy storage and battery technologies.

Atak added that, as a result, higher energy densities have overseen and facilitated new applications for electric vehicles.

“When we think of an electric vehicle, we have to consider associated technologies and infrastructure,” Atak said, but she also emphasised that this is only one factor. With significant developments in charging infrastructure and technologies, such as fast charging, uptake of electrified vehicles will increase. Atak furthered: “We cover three main segments: land, sea and air.” Under these core segments, the industrial applications of electric vehicles ranges from:

  • Cars to tractors;
  • Commercial to recreational boats; and
  • Manned to unmanned aircrafts.

“This allows us, in covering this wide scope, to really benchmark and forecast appropriately across the market,” she explained.

Mechanics for the future of mining

Greater innovation in the commercial vehicle sector occurred as a result of market changes, Atak continued: “Following the post-2013 decline in the [mining] industry, the industry had to re-evaluate whether maximising production was really the key to success, and whether cost cutting exercises were really effective.” One key resultant trend is an increase in the capacity for innovation; “innovation and the capacity to innovate really goes hand-in-hand with emerging technologies.”

With mining operations focused on exploring deep deposits below ground level, the cost of both ventilation, and of having the adequate equipment in underground operations, is significant. Atak added: “This can be a critical factor when considering expansion in existing mine operations.”

A barrier to uptake

Hindrances to the electrification of mining equipment have previously centred on the costs of innovation, and the fact that the industry has historically seen a period of decline, and has now seen an unexpected upturn.

Atak concluded: “In the case of mining, the cost benefits of going electric – in terms of ventilation [and] cost savings – really come when you have an entire fleet that is electric. It costs to do part electrification, and so what we’re seeing is [that] feasibility is really for new sites to be all electric.”

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