24 Days in May and June

Aug. 1, 2011
Fifty new products is a pretty good reason for thousands to converge at Volvo CE's Eskilstuna, Sweden, customer center.

For 24 days, Volvo was flooded with visitors. More than 3,000 international customers and dealers from more than three dozen countries, more than 3,000 Swedish customers, 1,000 employees and 1,500 visitors from the general public, converged upon the Volvo Customer Center in Eskilstuna, Sweden. RER also attended for a couple of days and had the opportunity to visit the customer center and component facility and see, in action, more than 50 new Volvo products, including several world premieres. RER also met and heard from the new president and CEO of Volvo Construction Equipment Patrick Olney who told a group of international journalists about Volvo's plans, vision and achievements.

Olney, although new to the position of CEO, is a 14-year Volvo veteran who most recently served as executive vice president of the company's global industrial operations and played a major role in crafting the company's current strategy. A Canadian by birth, Olney is very much a world citizen and was once quoted as saying he gets restless if he stays in any country for more than a week. It's a good thing, because Volvo CE's international growth in recent years has been dramatic, and its strategy for the coming year will involve significant investments in many countries, from Volvo's historical core markets such as North America and Europe as well as the “BRIC” countries and other emerging markets.

After the first quarter of 2011 resulted in a 57-percent year-over-year increase in Europe, a 59-percent boost in North American business, and 54-percent growth in Asia (70 percent in China), Volvo then posted a 32-percent worldwide year-over-year sales jump in the second quarter.

Volvo CE is definitely in a growth mode. The company is investing $100 million into its new U.S. headquarters in Shippensburg, Pa., where it is going to start rolling out production of wheel loaders, excavators and articulated haulers to complement the existing range of road machinery products already being produced there. Volvo will also add a customer demonstration center and training center there.

Volvo has implemented or will be implementing more than SEK 2 billion (more than U.S. $315 million) of investment in the “BRIC” markets. More than half of that investment is in China. Since opening a plant in Shanghai in 2003, Volvo CE has invested more than SEK 260 million (more than $40 million) in the development of that facility, and is currently investing even more to build a Volvo technical center for product development in China. The company has invested comparable quantities to build excavators for the Chinese market and to build a component factory.

In Brazil, the company has a factory in Pederneiras, and last year announced it was spending SEK 65 million to produce excavators in Brazil, beginning production in the first quarter. Volvo CE is investing SEK 140 million to start production of excavators for the Indian market. Volvo is also investing SEK 700 million into the Russian market, especially the expansion of the distribution network in that country.

The component facility in Eskilstuna, Sweden, recently underwent a SEK 1 billion facelift to extend the factory, install modern equipment and new production and assembly methods. The factory manufactures power trains — axles and transmissions — for Volvo CE, and now covers 65,000 square meters. The entire layout of the factory has been adapted to flow-oriented production methods similar to those found in the automobile industry, with a changeover from station assembly to paced-line assembly. The company has made considerable investments in training.

The company's recently built customer center in Eskilstuna offers a 750,000-square-meter demonstration field that can accommodate the heaviest machines Volvo produces. The customer center also features modern conference facilities with an auditorium, multi-purpose machine hall that is suitable for exhibitions, machine walk-arounds and meals. The facility is designed to accommodate up to 200 guests at a time.

The customer center plays a major role in Volvo Days, with daily machine presentations of more than 100 models. The facility also features a new generation of excavator training simulators that enable the operator to feel precisely how the machine will react in various situations, in a realistic environment without risk. The simulators are now being used by Volvo CE customers in Europe, South America, Asia and Australia. Research has shown that simulator-trained operators are more productive upon beginning work in real-life situations.

The nearby Munktell Museum features a wide range of Volvo machines, particularly engines dating back as far as 1839.

A product parade and show demonstrated the scope of Volvo CE's product areas, including several products never shown before, such as its L110G and L120G wheel loaders, designed for high-production applications in heavy infrastructure, quarrying and recycling. At 20.7 to 21.6 tonnes, the units fulfill the requirements of the latest EPA and European emissions legislation, along with other improvements. The L110G and L120G feature a 20-percent increase in lifting force, a 5-percent increase in breakout force and lower fuel consumption — up to 5 percent in load-and-carry and truck-loading duties.

With new engines and driveline systems for improved productivity, lower emissions, greater smoothness and serviceability, and operator comfort, the L110G and L120G are fitted with a Tier 4i/Stage IIIB-compliant engine fitted to drive train, hydraulics and lifting systems designed and produced by Volvo. The engine is a Volvo eight-liter, six-cylinder turbocharged V-ACT (Volvo Advanced Combustion Technology) off-highway diesel unit featuring cooled gas recirculation and a particulate filter with active regeneration. The active-type diesel particulate filter temporarily holds the particulate matter and then incinerates it, further reducing emissions. The units feature improved engine response at low engine speeds. The production of torque and power at low engine speeds, combined with load-sensing hydraulics, is designed to remove the need to overrun the engine, thus extending engine life and lowering fuel usage and reducing noise.

The L110G and L120G are fitted with heavy-duty axles whose housings absorb the weight of the machine and load. As the axle shafts transmit torque to the hub reductions, stress is reduced on the propeller and shafts. The rear axle cradles are maintenance free and the front axle is fitted with a hydraulically operated differential lock, thus transferring 100 percent of power to the wheels and reducing wheel spin, improving traction in soft or slippery conditions.

The units come with advanced electronic monitoring diagnostics designed to prolong machine life, enhance uptime and maximize productivity. Monitors function in real time and alert the operator if problems occur. MATRIS charts and analyzes data on machine handling and operation and CareTrack, the Volvo CE telematics system, allows machine location and operating data to be viewed via Internet from anywhere in the world.

The L-220G was a Red Dot Design Award Winner out of more than 4,000 contestants in that product category. “That's something that we're quite proud of and it speaks to the level of engineering ingenuity that's gone into the development of this product,” says Olney.

In addition to the L110G and L120G world premieres, the L150G, L180G and L220G wheel loaders were also shown at Volvo Days.

Volvo also showed the new L250G wheel loader, the first in the 35-tonne class. “Customers were asking for products between the L220 and the L360 Volvo wheel loader,” says Arvid Rinaldo, global market communication manager. “We listened to them and we developed a brand new size class that doesn't exist in the industry. This machine can fill a truck in two passes instead of two and a half. You had to go two passes and then half a bucket. Now with this brand-new machine size you can fill a truck with just two buckets. So that will actually fill 30-percent more trucks in a day.”

World premieres were presented in the excavator product area as well. The EC250D and EC300D weigh 54,230 and 61,730 pounds respectively. The units, which meet the requirements of international emissions legislation, are designed for heavy digging and lifting, with superior cycle times and enhanced fuel efficiency. Both machines are fitted with Volvo D8H Volvo engines, which feature a waste-gate turbo, externally cooled exhaust gas re-circulation and a DPF with active regeneration. Maximum power is 202 hp for the EC250D and 227 hp on the EC300D.

The excavators are designed for mass excavation and loading, piping and construction. They are fitted with Contronics, Volvo's advanced mode-selection system, which allows operators to choose from five working modes, tailoring the performance to the application and optimizing the use of fuel. An attachment management system stores up to 18 different attachment presets, allowing hydraulic flow and pressure adjustments to be accurately set according to the needs of the tool being used, at the touch of a button.

The hydraulics system features two variable displacement axial piston pumps, and long thick-gauge undercarriages. A service mode on the color I-ECU monitor in the cab facilitates diagnostic checks, and the units are fitted as standard with CareTrack telematics.

Also premiered was Volvo's L180G High-Lift wheel loader, designed for lifting logs, with a high-lift arm system that offers extended height when stacking. Fitted with a grapple-rotation function that allows the load to rotate 360 degrees, the extra lift height, reach and maneuverability allow operators to reduce log storage areas. The unit offers good visibility of the work area and can be used with grapples of various sizes. The unit is expected to make a strong impact in the logging industry and could be a good item for rental companies doing business in areas close to forests.

Volvo's core values are quality, safety and concern for the environment. The goal is to have zero accidents on their machines. And Volvo makes a concerted effort to make their products as environmentally friendly as possible and to follow environmental principles as much as possible in the facilities and production efforts. A commitment to fuel efficiency is apparent in all Volvo products, as well as meeting emissions-reduction timetables in a timely manner.