Electrification at Tulare World Ag Expo 2019
The Hydrapulse team had the opportunity to attend the 2019 World Ag Expo located in the Central Valley of California in the farming community of Tulare. It is one of the largest agricultural expos on the west coast. There were over 1,400 exhibitors displaying the latest farm equipment, communications, chemicals, and technology on 2.6 million square feet of exhibit space. It had over 100,000 visitors including international visitors from over 60 countries.
We attended this year to see what is new and get a feel for where the ag industry is heading in the near future. It is a great way to get real world feedback on current trends and issues from all sectors of the ag world. We were particularly interested in who is developing or displaying electric or hybrid equipment. Diesel is still king in the ag industry, but some companies are diving right in to electric and hybrid solutions. Most companies have made the mandated upgrade to Tier IV Final diesel engines, but who knows how long before Tier V becomes the new benchmark, or diesel engines are completely banned from certain regions. Below is some of the alternative energy equipment we found while walking the show.
Dannar has created the Dannar 4.0 which is an all-electric Mobile Power Station® with 126-500kWh of energy capacity. It is designed to be a mobile equipment platform for all kinds of purposes including scissor lifts, forklift masts, and dump beds. It can accept hydraulic attachments from CAT®, Bobcat®, and John Deere®. It is a modular chassis design that can be configured into almost any type of equipment the end user would need. In addition, the large storage capacity can be used as off-site power to run 110vac, or 220vac equipment, or be used as battery storage for solar arrays.
This piece of equipment stood out to us because it offered an electric solution that can fit unlimited use cases. It is a modular design that can be outfitted in endless ways, leverages BMW battery technology, and has multiple power levels available. Dannar addressed the thousands of heavy equipment use cases with a single chassis platform that not only is “green”, but also has real value as a work horse.
We spotted an Aebi EC170 that was being displayed by a local dealer at the expo. The Aebi EC170 is an all electric ride-on implement carrier with crawler tracks. It has a max power output of 18kW with a battery capacity of 9.7kWh. It has a run time of 3.5 hours, and a charge time of 2.5-4 hours depending on the charger used. It can accept multiple attachments such as, cutter bar, flail mower, leaf blower, and snow plough. It can also be operated via a remote control.
We noticed the EC170 first by the wood treatment used for the fenders and arm rests. That definitely stands out from the traditional equipment it was parked next to. It is an example of a trend we have been seeing. Smaller equipment may be the first to accept electric drive trains as the new power source given the use cases around urban areas including in and around buildings, public spaces, and schools.
Wiggins AG eBull
The Wiggins AG eBull is a zero emissions, all electric, large capacity forklift which won the Top-10 New Products Competition for the World Ag Expo 2019. It is one a few different all electric offerings from Wiggins. The batteries are designed by Thor Trucks and run at 720vdc. The all electric drivetrain is a great fit for operating inside buildings and cargo ships given there is no emissions or noise. Wiggins is focused on surpassing Tier IV diesel regulations which are a short term stepping stone to completely banning diesel on off-highway heavy equipment. In addition, the eBull meets conformance for SAFE – ANSI/ITSDF B56.1 and UL-583 standards.
E-Z-GO was represented by one of their dealers at the World Ag Expo. They have been building electric golf carts for decades. The vehicle that caught our eyes at the show was the Express 4X4. It is a 28kW utility vehicle made for work or play that runs on 72vac with full time 4 wheel drive. What was most interesting, was hearing the sales team discussing government voucher programs for San Juaquin Valley residents. The Air Resource Board currently has a voucher program to replace existing gas or diesel utv’s with zero emission utv’s. The voucher program will fund up to 75% of the cost of a new zero emission utv. That is a strong incentive to switch, and a clear message from the Air Resource Board that they are committed to reducing emissions within the valley and are willing to provide significant funding to help meet the goals.
Another vehicle that caught our eye was not all electric or hybrid. It was a diesel citrus orchard sprayer. The interesting feature was that it drove completely autonomously. This makes great sense for a task like pesticide spraying that can be extremely toxic to a human operator. It is exciting to see ideas that seemed impossible a few years ago to be fully functioning and now on the market.
In conclusion, there is no doubt diesel is the fuel of choice for the ag industry and will stay that way for at least another decade. However, many sectors of the industry are looking ahead to zero emission all electric drive trains, especially when the inherent benefits of electric line up with needs for that niche sector. Regulations to further limit diesel fuel usage are on the horizon, and battery technology is constantly making improvements to increase run times and decrease charge times. We look forward to seeing what other ag equipment enters the market with zero emission technology.
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