Volvo ECR25 reaches new heights

Published 14/11 at 14:49

An ECR25 electric compact excavator from Volvo CE is helping to rebuild one of the longest and steepest cable car routes in the world. At an altitude of 2,970m, the compact excavator is said to be one of the few machines capable of working in this most demanding of locations thanks to its electric driveline.

The excavator had to be transported to the summit of the Schilthorn in Switzerland via helicopter winch. Here, the excavator is being put to work on excavating and creating the foundations for a new summit station as part of the renewal of the popular ski resort. Operated by Schilthornbahn AG, the new cableway will increase passenger capacity and reduce travel time, as well as enabling 365 day access to the mountain summit. 

Timur Abied, utility product manager from Volvo CE commented: “We’re thrilled that the ECR25 electric has been selected for this project. Not only is it a tricky location, it’s also hugely iconic. We’re used to discussing the benefits of near silent zero emission electric machines in busy urban locations and for indoor works, but this project shows the versatility of electric (power) to solve more problems than one might think. We’re very much looking forward to proving the power of electric machines to rise to the toughest of challenges.”

Construction specialists Ghelma AG Baubetriebe are responsible for the excavation and foundation work for the new summit station. “There are two main problems up on the mountains,” explains Melchior Burlon, site manager at Ghelma AG Baubetriebe, which is carrying out the work. “On the one hand, we don’t have much space here, and on the other hand we often encounter problems with diesel engines operating at altitude owing to the thin air and the cold.” 

The environmental and health hazards from diesel emissions were also a concern. A zero emission electric machine was the obvious solution. “Volvo CE is the only supplier that offers something of this magnitude,” Melchior Burlon explains. “Otherwise, there were only excavators up to two tons and we wanted the most powerful machine for the job and something that we could still transport via helicopter if necessary.”

The ECR25 electric was delivered by local dealer, Robert Aebi AG, where it was loaded onto a snow groomer. Ongoing work with the railway meant the excavator had to be towed up at night piece by piece to the station at Birg, which sits at an altitude of 2,600m. The machine was then transported via helicopter for the final and most challenging part of the way up to the summit, in what was a meticulously orchestrated process. The excavator will be used to shift the debris on the Schilthorn, load it and transport blasted material to the installation site.

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