Supplied by Husqvarna
Given the scale, in terms of size and energy demands, of the requirements in this industry, is battery power going to ‘cut it’?
The construction industry has been an integral part of South Africa’s economy, contributing R134 billion in gross value added at current prices in 2020 (2.7% share of the total GDP). In keeping up with global market trends, the industry has been going through a significant change. For example, construction professionals in the past relied heavily on diesel and petrol-powered machinery. However, with the advent of electrified construction machinery and availability of modern lithium-ion batteries with high energy density for small as well as large vehicles, we are witnessing steady progress towards usage of batterification in construction equipment for building resilient infrastructure – be it for commercial, residential, geotechnical or infrastructure construction.
According to Lionel Zietsman, National Sales Manager, Husqvarna Construction, the shift from traditional tools to battery powered equipment can benefit the industry through zero emissions, increased efficiencies, lower maintenance costs and zero reliability on fossil fuels. “The flexibility to use battery power at urban job sites and in noise or pollution-sensitive environments like hospitals and schools has made battery power impossible to ignore. The rise in popularity is especially visible in interior demolition, where battery-powered tools have revolutionised timetables and reduced human demand. Small home to large interior projects also benefits from the quiet operations and reduced dust emissions.”
He adds that advancements in construction machinery are mainly focused on equipment that will help drive the change in the industry with more environmentally friendly and efficient ways of working. “Operator-centric solutions focused on improving the health and safety of construction professionals will be a norm at future construction sites.”
Oxford Economics estimate the global construction market was valued at US$10,7 trillion in 2020, over 50% of this was in emerging markets. It is expected to grow by US$4,5 trillion between 2020 and 2030 and the portion in emerging markets will grow to over 58% of the total. Regional construction growth is expected to be highest in sub-Saharan Africa. With the increase in urbanisation the industry must strive to find innovative new products and solutions, to contribute to building better cities.
Zietsman says that batterification in construction products is an example of such advancement, helping with less damage to the environment and more efficiency at the project site. “Battery-powered hand tools, and other lighter-duty tools and equipment have been used on jobsites for years. However, they were typically viewed as options for intermittent rather than continuous use because performance limitations, battery life and/or charging times. Advances in equipment design and battery technology has enabled enhanced capabilities, more efficient power generation and utilisation as well as opportunities to power larger construction tools.”
“As we strive to limit the damage to our planet and ensure sustainability for future generations, the pressure from both governments and global citizens will ultimately force sustainably powered equipment as the only option. The construction industry will not be immune and, at Husqvarna Construction, we are already embracing that shift and taking the lead to manoeuvre from petrol and diesel to battery-powered equipment with our next generation battery power cutter,” says Zietsman. He explains that with the K535i Power Cutter customers can expect power and performance equivalent to petrol-powered cutters with all the additional benefits battery powered equipment brings to both operators and the environment.
Zietsman continues, “The battery system can be utilised for more machines as the battery-powered family expands. In addition to the power cutters and battery system, diamond blades in 300 and 350mm have been optimised for battery operation.”
The innovations in this industry clearly represent advancement. In the near future, the industry will witness a surge in demand for battery-powered machinery as both an environmentally friendly and economically sustainable solution for construction equipment.