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JCB: Efficient response

JCB has reaffirmed its commitment to making all new machines as fuel efficient as possible, as well as making them easier and safer to use. The company’s chief innovation and growth officer Tim Burnhope claims the efficiency features of its recent machines have saved customers a total of 750M.l of fuel - worth around £386M - since 2010.

“Customers tend to buy on price, but the total cost of ownership is what really matters,” he says.

Burnhope’s comments come as the firm unveils its latest innovation - a six cylinder engine that will go into its large excavators and wheel loaders. JCB only started making engines in 2004, and until now has focused on the smaller, high volume machines, like backhoes, compact loaders and telehandlers, while buying in engines for larger models from other manufacturers.

With this launch, over 70% of JCB machines will now be powered by its own engines.

Describing the new 7.2l Dieselmax engine as a “milestone in JCB’s 67-year history”, Burnhope says: “Larger wheel loaders and excavators are a very big market for us. In the developing markets, where infrastructure is being built, we are seeing good growth of these products, and we anticipate it being a big part of our business.”

Although destined for emerging markets like Russia and South America, the new engines will be built in the UK, with 50 jobs being created at JCB Power Systems’ Derby production facility to meet demand. The company says it has spent £45M developing the engine, which has undergone 50,000 hours of testing, of which 25,000 have been in the field.

JCB claims that the large tracked excavators fitted with the new engine will use 30% less fuel than the previous models.

A lot more emphasis is now going to be placed on reducing CO2, in operation and in production, and that drives real fuel efficiency benefits

Peter Jowett, JCB

All construction equipment manufacturers have been forced to rethink their engine strategies over recent years to meet stringent emissions legislation in the United States and the European Union, the final stage of which comes into force in 2015. But many have also used it as an opportunity to make their machines more fuel efficient, and JCB sees this trend continuing.

“The emissions legislation had a massive impact on the industry, but a lot more emphasis is now going to be placed on reducing CO2, in operation and in production, and that drives real fuel efficiency benefits,” says JCB director for advanced engineering and research Peter Jowett.

“Our work in this area will continue - especially as the price of fuel is such a significant factor in owning and running machines - and, as technology progresses, new solutions will emerge - for example alternative fuel types.”

Like all the big manufacturers, JCB has been investigating the potential for building hybrid machines that harness, store and re-use the kinetic energy that is generated during some machine movements.
But Burnhope says this is not the company’s current focus.

“I firmly believe that it’s important to get the base products right and efficient before we move fully into hybrid technology,” he says. “We are currently achieving [fuel] savings of over 24% on a base excavator, and we want to increase that before we move to hybrid.”

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