Editor's Note: RER's associate editor, Erin Chapman, recently visited three Volvo manufacturing facilities in Europe, touring the plants and viewing new products. Here's her report:
Volvo's construction equipment assembly plants in Europe may be in different countries, but Volvo's dedication to its core values of environment, quality and safety know no boundaries.
Volvo tries to be environmentally aware in all of its manufacturing facilities. The paint areas in the plants use degreasing products and water from treatment tanks to take care of the environment. The water is recycled to eliminate unnecessary runoff into the environment. The materials used to produce the compact excavators in Belley, France, are 92 percent recyclable, so the parts can be reused or will disintegrate when discarded.
From the beginning of the assembly process to the finish, much attention is given to the standards of quality of Volvo machines. Raw materials are inspected for quality before the assembly process even begins, and quality checks throughout the assembly line ensure that each piece of equipment is held to the highest standards. Before completed machines are shipped, they endure testing that mimics working conditions to verify that each machine can meet the demands of operators and the standards of business owners.
With available equipment features such as front and rear work lights, turn signals, horn, brake lights and ROPS and FOPS operator cabs, among many others, safety is always an important consideration.
Belley, France — Compact excavators
The Volvo facility in Belley, France, produces Volvo's entire line of compact excavators, which range from 1.5 to 4.5 tons. The plant has the ability to produce customized machines to fit customers' needs and specifications. Customers can choose various electrical and hydraulic options, as well as various attachments. The compact excavators can also be painted to meet specific customer demands. Rather than insisting on a universal color scheme, Volvo understands that its equipment also represents its customers' businesses, and the painting options allow the customer to have the look they want in their equipment. Available colors include the traditional Volvo yellow, ocean race blue, racing red and panorama green. Various color combinations are possible, so the customer has a variety of options when it comes to the look of the machine.
The six models of compact excavators (models EC15, EC20, EC25, EC30, EC35, EC45) come standard with a hammer kit and can be fitted with a quick coupler attachment for versatility on the job. The machines are equipped with load-sensing hydraulics and a two-range drive system provides maximum tractive effort for pushing with the built-in dozer blade and maximum speed for site travel and backfilling operations.
To help with ease of service, Volvo makes sure that key maintenance items are in easy-to-reach positions and that all service compartments open wide for access. The units feature ROPS/FOPS/TOPS operator structure certification.
Konz, Germany — Compact wheel loader
The Konz plant produces the entire line of Volvo compact wheel loaders, which range from 2.1 to 8.3 tons. The plant also produces several wheel excavators. Consistent with Volvo standards, this plant also emphasizes quality. Assembly parts are inspected to ensure quality, but purchased parts enter this facility already painted to help speed the production process.
The B Series of compact wheel loaders is designed for comfort, convenience, versatility and reliability. The B Series compact wheel loaders keep ease of maintenance in mind. The engine cover opens to expose service points for engine oil check, fill and filter change, as well as hydraulic oil check and replenish. The B Series is available with a full cab or open canopy, ergonomic control layout and suspension seat. These machines come standard with a high capacity bucket, but are also available with a wide range of buckets and attachments to add versatility. The quick coupler on these machines allows the operator to change attachments without dismounting.
Wroclaw, Poland — Backhoe loader
The Volvo backhoe loader construction plant is an assembly-only facility and parts are pre-painted to Volvo standards.
The Volvo BL71 backhoe loader combines the features of a wheel loader with the compact excavator, creating a machine that can handle a variety of applications on the jobsite. The boom features closed-box construction, fewer components and fewer welds to give it strength. The cast steel boom mounting provides strength while allowing flexible movement and swing. Three steps and grab handles on both sides of the machine make entering and exiting the cab convenient and safe. The side and rear windows are flat for easy replacement and the rear window has no cross bar to increase visibility.
Designed for easy maintenance, the BL71 features a bonnet that can be lifted with one hand, giving access to the engine for servicing. A slide-out battery tray inside the left steps of the machine allows the operator to check, change or jumpstart the machine with ease. Sealed pivot pins also allow for extended service intervals and greasing is only required once a week.