With emissions regulation closing in at both the international and local level, it’s time for material handling businesses to electrify to protect themselves, writes Stephen Irish, co-founder of Hyperdrive Innovation, the UK’s foremost designer and manufacturer of lithium-ion battery technology.
The automotive industry has seen profound changes in legislation around emissions standards over a number of years now – and it’s been well publicised. We’re all very familiar with the concept of the London congestion charge and catalytic converters on our diesel cars. However, one sector that’s so far avoided the lime light is material handling equipment and non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) – everything from agricultural machinery, construction, building material machinery, industrial trucks, cranes and even inland waterway vessels. Now, just like the auto industry, material handling equipment and NRMM is undergoing a profound change, driven by emissions legislation.
Just like the automotive industry, regulation around material handling equipment and NRMM emissions is closing in on two fronts. First, engine manufactures are required to produce cleaner engines, driven by the European Union’s (EU) Stage V engine regulations which came into force in January. And second, an ever-growing number of UK cities are looking to stay within legal air pollution limits with the use of ultra low emissions zones (ULEZ). Coupled together, this regulation is bringing the impact of NRMM air pollution into sharp focus and encouraging companies to look for a quick but effective solution that protects them well into the future. The obvious choice for business? Electrification.
Are you prepared for Stage V regulations?
As of 1 January 2019, all new machines which fall within the scope of NRMM have had to comply with new emissions standards; Euro-Stage V. This means that for the first time, all engines with a power range of 0 kW to higher than 560 kW are included in EU emissions legislation.
The purpose of this far-reaching regulation is to further reduce the levels of particulate matter (PM) produced by the internal combustion engines (ICE) in NRMM. So whether someone is working in a warehouse that uses diesel forklifts, ploughing the fields in a tractor or working on a construction site using ICE excavators and generators, the air they breathe should be much cleaner as a result.
While being great news for air quality, the regulations have also sent shockwaves through the material handling industry. For those using ICE engines, there’s no getting around the fact you will have to comply. All combustion engines, whether they’re petrol, diesel, gas, or anything else are included, and it applies to both variable-speed and constant-speed engines.
As stipulated in the legislation, we’re currently in a 24 month ‘grace period’. During this time, it is still possible to put engines of the previous emission standard onto the EU market. But with the prospect of low emission zone fines on the horizon, savvy business managers are getting ahead of the curve now to future proof their machinery.
How Ultra-low emission zones could eat away your profits
The concept of low emission zones has been around for a long time – particularly in built up areas like London where drivers are used to shelling out the £11.50 a day it costs to drive through its centre – a charge that has now increased to £12.50 thanks to the introduction of London’s ULEZ. But while London’s cars and lorries have attracted most of the attention, the charges are exclusive to neither London nor traditional vehicles.
NRMM plays a much bigger role in air quality than one might first expect. For example, According to the London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory, construction sites alone are responsible for around 7.5% of damaging nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, 8% of large particle emissions and 14.5% of the most dangerous fine particles – the vast majority of which come from ICE engines, as opposed to dust for example. This gives an idea of the scale of the issue and doesn’t even take into account other martials handling equipment and NRMM, such as water vessels, cranes or warehousing machines.
Now, with poor air quality thought to be responsible for 40,000 premature deaths annually in the UK, all ICE engines, including those driving NRMM and materials handling equipment, are in the sights of devolved law makers.
Newcastle, Bristol, London and Manchester are just some of the local authorities looking to clamp down on dirty ICE engines. In January, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he intends to introduce a fine like the congestion charge for firms using polluting machines.
PERFECT STORM OR PERFECT OPPORTUNITY?
The combination of these two regulatory trends – Euro Stage V engine regulation and the rise of ULEZs – is injecting urgency into the vast number of industries using NRMM. There’s now huge appetite to not just comply with current regulations but also get ahead of the curve and protect businesses against future, tougher regulations.
Traditional OEMs, factory managers, construction companies and virtually every other sector that requires powertrains are now embroiled in a race to slash emissions and electrify.
During a time of ever tightening budgets, when R&D into new and effective drive chains can come at large expense, this may sound like a daunting task. However, without electrifying, businesses could face the prospect of shelling out on a daily basis to comply with ULEZ charges or installing expensive engine after-treatment that could add 50-100% to the cost of machinery.
Another major advantage is the reduced consumption of fuel and the huge cost savings that entails. Not only that, electric alternatives are quieter, require less maintenance and have higher levels of operator comfort. This clear need for better and cleaner technology is driving huge demand for zero-emission machinery in the NRMM industry.
By offering a spade-ready, bespoke and affordable alternative that’s zero emissions, future proof and trusted by household brands, companies like Hyperdrive Innovation can be the electrification partner to navigate businesses through the rapidly changing legislative landscape.
Not only does this save many years and potentially huge sums of money on in-house R&D, but by making the speedy transition to electrification, businesses can begin to see other savings such as lowered maintenance and fuel costs almost immediately.
Hyperdrive Innovation customer case studies
Competitive advantages associated with electrification including lowered maintenance and fuel costs are being realised by internationally recognised brands already. Examples include:
- JCB – Having partnered with Hyperdrive to create a fully electrified compact excavator, it now leads the way in electrification. It’s using battery energy storage in its machines to ensure the air is cleaner at its construction sites, protecting its workers from dangerous fumes and future-proofing its business against any further regulation.
- Snorkel – Worked with Hyperdrive to develop a battery-powered scissor lift. The use of maintenance-free lithium-ion battery packs will reduce running costs by up to 95% when compared to an engine and are shown to last up to twenty-times longer than lead acid batteries.