4 Minutes read   20 Oct 2022

Evolution of the Volvo L220H

By Ed Hayward

Earlier this summer, Chepstow Plant International (CPI) celebrated an impressive milestone - the delivery of its 1000th machine from Volvo. The asset, a L220H wheel loader, has been extremely popular throughout its various iterations across the company’s sites. Here, Ed Hayward, Business Development Director at CPI, tells how one site in particular has played witness to the L220’s evolution over the last two decades.

As anyone working in the quarrying and aggregates sector will know, an operational site can only be as efficient as the assets and employees that are working from it.

That’s why at CPI, we’re heavily committed in making continual investment into fleet renewal and operator training. Keeping up to pace with modern developments and expectations is essential for a business to continue driving efficiencies – whether that be through costs, carbon, or anything in between – and inaction simply isn’t an option.

Contrary to popular belief though, these actions needn’t be stark or severe to be effective. Take a limestone quarry based near our head offices, for example. We’ve supplied the site with seven Volvo L220-size shovels over the last 17 years, graduating from an E-series shovel in 2005 right up to the modern H-series in 2019, and the assets have completed approximately 77,500 hours’ worth of work over this period.

So why have we remained loyal to the same machine for so long? Well, it’s quite simple really. The L220 is the ideal size to complete a good proportion of the jobs required on-site - whether it be picking up and relocating block stones once a quarry has been blasted, managing the haul roads, doing edge protection, loading lorries if it’s busy on-site, or even loading straight from the face of the quarry instead of an excavator if necessary.

The adaptable nature of this asset has meant that it’s not been necessary for us to introduce larger nor additional machines on-site, which offers up an immediate cost saving before you even investigate the performance of the asset itself. While this approach would not be workable across some of our other sites, here, it’s proven to be the right thing to do.

While the popularity of this machine across our sites isn’t in question – the L220s in this quarry have had the same operator for the last of 15 years – it’s only through making a direct comparison between the E-series and H-series that you can truly understand how the asset has evolved over time and how this has helped drive on-site efficiencies since.

Firstly, the engine. We’ve graduated from Tier II in 2005 to Tier V in 2019, and the effects of this at Stowfield have been massive:

  • Back in 2005, the L220E would have produced approximately 135 tonnes of CO2, 2 tonnes of CO and 3.3 tonnes of NOx as a result
  • The L220H however, is currently producing approximately 80 tonnes of CO2, jus 1 tonne of CO, and just 130kgs of NOx

While there are vast reductions across the board, including an impressive 40% fuel improvement, it’s when you consider that NOx is approximately three hundred times more potent than CO2 to the atmosphere that you can appreciate the significance and benefit of investing in continual fleet renewal. Local particle numbers for on-site air quality saw a 92% reduction in NOx from Tier II to Tier V – and that’s something you really put a price on.

There’s no doubt that the mechanical advancements Volvo has made to its Wheel Loader line-up over the last 15 years from an operational and fuel efficiency perspective are significant. Graduating through the engine tiers, introducing Adblue, diesel particulate filters and regeneration systems all have a substantial impact. Combine this with technological improvements such as Load Assist, bucket levelling functions, Optishift and CareTrack it really puts the shovel ahead of others.

The evolution of the L220 at Stowfield, and the delivery of our 1000th vehicle this summer, are testament to the strength and importance of the working relationship CPI holds with Volvo and SMT GB. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to operate our fleet as efficiently as we do, introduce industry-leading technology – such as inclinometers or haul assist – or even push safety standards or the decarbonisation agenda.

At times, it’s only through reflecting on the past – and the journey you’ve taken in the time since – that you can appreciate how far you’ve come. We’re looking forward to further cementing our strong and long-standing working relationship with Volvo and relish every opportunity to continue driving change within the sector together.

By Ed Hayward

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