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It Won’t Make You the $6 Million Man, But Hilti’s EXO-10 May Save Your Arms, Back

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A product that generated great interest when it was announced last year is now for sale.

The Hilti EXO-01 exoskeleton, designed to give workers an assist when using tools overhead, started selling this month for $1,599, Simona Kalova, Hilti project manager, told Equipment World at the recent World of Concrete.

Hilti worked with Ottobock, a prosthetics, orthotics and exoskeleton manufacturer, to create the EXO-01 specifically for construction workers. The company says it provides dynamic support without restricting the span of motion of the arm and torso. “It only comes into play when you lift your arms above your waist,” says Kalova. 

“For workers spending 50% to 60% of their time working overhead, we’ve seen a decrease of strain on their upper arms and shoulders of 47%,” she says. 

Construction is full of awkward positions, and in the worse cases, they can lead to musculoskeletal disorders, Kalova says. “This takes the strain that you would normally feel in your shoulders and arms and transfers it to the hips.”

[Related: Does Hilti’s new EXO-01 Signal the Rise of the Construction Exoskeleton?]

Hilti has been beta testing the EXO-01 on U.S. jobsites throughout this year. A common user question throughout the testing: Will this make me stronger?

Alas, you will not become the next Ironman wearing the device. “You’re not going to be stronger,” Kalova says. “While the tool you are holding above your head weighs the same amount, it feels much lighter [with the EXO-01 on].”

Kalova reports beta testers took about a day to adjust to using the EXO-01. Then “we had difficulty getting the demo units back because they wanted to keep them,” she says. Hilti sought a broad scope of experiences, and demo’ed with contractors in several specialties. 

How to wear the EXO-01

Hilti EXO-01The Hilti EXO-01 should be fitted individually for each user’s height and weight. The tension available for each arm is also adjustable.HiltiWeighing less than 5 pounds, the EXO-01 has a backpack-like design. Each user can quickly adjust the unit to his or her height and weight. It fits users from 5 feet 2 inches to 6 foot 4 inches. The waist is fully adjustable, and if needed, waist extenders are available. 

“It’s built on the backpack principle,” Kalova says, “and it needs to sit on top of your hips. Think of it like a safety harness. It really needs to be tailored to fit your body.” While initial adjustments will take longer, once the EXO-01 is fitted, it can take just a few seconds to put on. 

Height adjustments are made by adjusting the silver threaded rods at the base of the back supports. To adjust for width, use the ball socket units at the base of each back support.

In addition, users can adjust the tension support by turning knobs at the narrow end of the shoulder hinge. This support can be adjusted by an overall preference by the user or when a job requires additional support. Users can also choose to engage one arm and leave the other tension free. 

To wear, users should clip the belt above their belt line, above their natural waist. Then using the pull loop, they can pull each arm support down into position. The arm braces attach magnetically.

After fully donning the exoskeleton, users should have full, unimpeded range of motion, Hilti says. Once on, the unit is designed to provide safety and comfort for overhead tasks such as installing drywall, piping, air ducts, cables and conduit.

The EXO-01 is self-contained and does not require a power source. Because it is not flame retardant, Hilti says, it should not be used in welding operations. 

Learn more about the EXO-01 by viewing the video below:

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Volvo electrifies 22-metric-ton excavator

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Taking the next step to battery power for its machine lineup, Volvo Construction Equipment has electrified its first large crawler excavator as a customer pilot.

Designed and built at the Volvo facilities in Changwon, South Korea, the 22-metric-ton EC230 electric excavator, which is not yet commercially available, has been tested by customers in South Korea and China. Now the EC230 E machines are due to come to North America for demos.         

Studio shot (white background) of Volvo EC230E excavatorThis marks the first large excavator that Volvo has electrified.Volvo CE

Remi Teysseire, excavator product manager, discussed some of the high points of the EC230 at the recent Volvo Days event. 

During his presentation, he said it offers the same features as the EC220, the diesel-powered conventional excavator in the same size class. 

“We can bring the same tool size. We have the same digging forces, the same lifting capacities with the added value to have less noise and zero emissions,” Teysseire said. 

With its battery power, the excavator is expected to achieve 60-70% reduction of energy running costs compared to the EC220. Teysseire said the EC230 E is equipped with four 66-kilowatt lithium-ion battery packs that enable the operator to work four to five hours in general purpose applications. With a high-power fast charge on a lunch hour, the machine should last through a full eight-hour shift.

He said Volvo is working on various power supply options for jobsites, including a faster charger and onboard chargers, which some of the machines are already equipped with. 

Hydraulic pumps are identical to those for the EC220, providing the same performance, except they are now driven by an electric motor. “We are consuming electricity only when the operator needs to work with the machine,” Teysseire said. “In other words, the idle time is gone.”

The EC230 E marks the first time Volvo CE has developed electric customer pilot machines for China. These excavators are not commercially available yet, but during this research phase, Volvo CE aims to mature them quickly so that they can be commercialized as soon as possible. The machine was first showcased at bauma China 2020.

“China is the largest electromobility market globally and a leading producer of electromobility components, which provides the demand and means to manufacture a machine locally,” said Mats Sköldberg, head of technology at Volvo CE China. “In addition, China has an industrial strategy to decrease dependence on diesel and so the electromobility market is expected to move quicker. These factors make China the perfect place to test our new machines and gain valuable customer feedback.” 

Earlier this year, Volvo CE opened orders for its newest electric machines, the L20 electric compact wheel loader and the EC18 and ECR18 electric compact excavators. Deliveries of the three newest models to North American customers will begin in 2023.

According to Volvo, as development of the electric machines continues, the diesel versions of Volvo’s compact equipment will be phased out. The compact line of electric equipment is only the first in the line as engineers develop the systems for larger construction machines such as the EC230 E.

“These new machines will drive our activity in a new era,” Teysseire said.

Check out the video below for an intro to the EC230.

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Sany Group enters electric pickup race

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Sany Group, a Chinese construction equipment and large truck manufacturer, is reportedly getting into the electric pickup truck race.

Over the past two months, two sets of images of futuristic-looking electric pickup truck models from Sany have leaked from China’s patent bureau office, according to CarNewsChina. It appears the construction equipment manufacturer is going all-in on a new venture.

Sany’s plans for either design that have been unveiled remain unknown. It is possible both models, which have a more futuristic vibe with one being a sportier style, may be brought to the market, or both could remain design concepts and be used only as promotional tools. 

Still, according to CarNewsChina, it is possible Sany will unveil these electric pickups in November at the Guangzhou Auto Show. For now, these trucks are not expected to be a U.S.-focused product and may only be available in China and elsewhere overseas for testing and release first. Sany North America currently is not involved with this product and has no information on it.

The patent for the pickup is held by Hunan Xingbida Network Technology, which was launched in 2019 with Sany Group as the sole shareholder.

Sany Group electric truck preliminary design photosResembling the Tesla Cybertruck, it appears Sany is going for more of the futuristic style versus the standard truck look.CarNewsChinaPreliminary images leaked in early May had the truck branded as Sany, not Xingbida. The initial set of images have a very futuristic vide, reminiscent of the concept images of the Tesla Cybertruck except a bit bulkier. No specifications are currently available in terms of bed length, anticipated towing capacities or mileage. 

In the first set of images, the vehicle is shown as a two-door vehicle with a large front, low roof and short bed. Side images appear to suggest good ground clearance, and overall, it does appear smaller than a regular full-size pickup.

The second set of images features a more colorful and sportier version of the original concept. Most of the images show a two-door, but this set included one four-door version. Sideview of Sany Group's preliminary electric truck conceptThe sideview of the preliminary concept suggests reasonable ground clearance, a large front, low roof and shorter bed.CarNewsChina

As shared online by CarNewsChina, the unique design features an illuminated Sany badge, small headlights and LED daytime running lights, two large tow hooks and a winch on the front end. The images also show the Sany truck with pronounced front and rear wheel arches that are finished in gray to contrast the rest of the truck’s red paint. It appears to have pop-out handles, that sit flush with the bodywork and has a set of large side steps and handles on the C-pillars.

A shark-fin style antenna maintains the sleek design of the truck, although the sporty red version seems slightly more truck-like versus the more futuristic preliminary photos. Lastly, the sport version noticeably includes a tow hook.

In recent years, a growing number of automotive companies have released or announced intentions of upcoming electric pickup trucks. Some of the models expected to hit the market soon include the 2022 Rivian R1T; 2022 GMC Hummer EV; 2023 Tesla Cybertruck; 2023 Bollinger B2; 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning; 2024 Ram 1500 Electric; and 2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV.

Front end image of sport Sany Electric TruckThe unique design features an illuminated Sany badge, small headlights, and LED daytime running lights which resemble eyebrows, two large tow hooks and a winch on the front end.CarNewsChina

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New V8 Ford Raptor R makes surprise appearance

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Eat my dust.

Not sure if Ford will be adding that classic snub to its marketing lexicon but you can’t help but think they might be considering it following a recent surprise Raptor R visit that left journalists staring at a huge cloud of dust. 

Fox News auto reporter Gary Gastelu reported recently that the V8-powered truck roared into view while reporters were attending a Ford Bronco R event in Johnson Valley, California. 

“An F-150 Raptor R came storming through the desert past the assembled journalists, but not closely enough for them to get a good look,” writes Gastelu who went on to say that the sound of the truck’s V8 “could not be missed.”

Ford CEO Jim Farley tweeted a brief video that shows reporters parked in a lineup of Bronco R’s as the Raptor R blasts into view and does a monster slide and donut before roaring out of view (see video below). 

Ford’s marketing folks definitely get a big thumbs up for pulling off such a surprising and dramatic entrance. Doubtless, the buzz would have been even bigger if the truck jumped over the current Raptor while AC/DC’s classic “For Those About to Rock” jammed inside those Bronco Rs. Yeah…that would have been the best OEM event ever, even besting the helicopter drop of Chevy’s 2019 Silverado Z71 Trail Boss reveal nearly five years back at the Texas Motor Speedway. 

Though Ford’s not talking numbers yet, everyone knows that they need to best Ram’s amazing 702-horsepower TRX. Motorheads were thrilled when Ford rolled out its 7.3-liter Godzilla V8 a few years ago. The big block can be spec’d in Ford’s Super Duty trucks and is available as a crate engine for “those about to rock,” since as Hot Rod magazine put it, the engine “packs monster potential.” 

But arguably there’s been more fingers pointing toward Ford’s other V8s, namely their 5.0- and 5.2-liter. Those engines would cut weight over the TRX’s hefty supercharged 6.2-liter. I’m not so sure though that either the 5.0 or 5.2 would prove all that helpful in reducing the lawn dart effect, that is the tendency of a front-heavy truck to want to nose-dive when airborne. 

Power opportunities with either the 5.0 or 5.2 look promising. Hennessey was able to squeeze 758 horses out of its 5.0-liter V8 Velociraptor, which gives it a 56-horsepower advantage over the TRX. 

Of course, though they’re a little late to the super truck segment, you have to wonder what Chevy has in store. The big reveal of the Silverado ZR2 Bison will take place this summer. Car & Driver reported that the “Silverado ZR2’s 420-hp 6.2-liter V-8, spool-valve dampers, knobby 33-inch all-terrain tires, and electronic locking front and rear diffs should go untouched.” 

Right off the bat, in terms of power, that would put the Silverado Bison behind the TRX and the Raptor, so I’m not so sure I’m buying into the notion of a 420-horsepower V8. Regardless, what an impressive and historic time for pickups. More power and features keep coming. The downside though is historic inflation, which includes crazy high fuel prices like a never-before-seen national average of over $5 a gallon for regular. 

Yes, surging fuel costs make all-electric pickups look more attractive, and with their head-snapping instant torque, it may not be long before they snatch those “eat my dust” trophies away from their ICE counterparts. But getting airborne in an EV? While it won’t be as front heavy and thus as prone to lawn-dart landings, I just don’t like the idea of catching air with a lithium-ion battery pack that, if cracked, can turn into a monstrous torch. I’d rather wait for nonflammable and more powerful solid-state packs. That will obviously take some time, but there’s no doubt that they’re coming.

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