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    Heaters In Large Construction Equipment Keep Human And Machine At Operating Temperature

    They are the All Stars on every large construction site and everywhere where enormous weights and masses need to be lifted and moved. They are brimming with pure power, heavier than a herd of elephants with a hundred trunks. You almost think nothing could stop these gigantic construction machines.

  • But there is one invisible, natural opponent: the cold. When it gets too cold and uncomfortable for humans and machines, the giants of the construction sites come to a standstill, like frozen blocks of ice. This not only delays projects, it also makes them more expensive.

    Special heating solutions from Webasto keep workers and their machines in top form in the toughest conditions. To achieve this, Webasto Customized Solutions installs heaters in unexpected places.

  • Specialized personnel demand more comfort

    In old television documentaries, you see people wrapped in thick jackets with teddy bear fur, looking down on an enormous construction site in lofty crane cabins, raving about their dream job. For such a specialized and responsible job, many put up with the adverse conditions in the drivers' and crane cabins. Over the years, not only did construction machinery get bigger and more technically sophisticated, but skilled workers also became more specialized, scarce, and selective.

    "We hear from our customers in the construction sector that there is a strong market for workers, especially for large, technically demanding construction equipment," reports Matthias Rettinger, Product Line Manager at Webasto Customized Solutions. "Skilled personnel can choose their job and are quite demanding. Comfort is high on their list – even in the most remote areas and in the most adverse conditions."

  • Heating power for optimum availability of construction machinery

    But it's not just the personnel who hate the cold – the machine does too. "It's always about the availability of the million-dollar construction machine. And if it's too cold, the machine doesn't start, the operating materials freeze or the hydraulics no longer work smoothly. Then there are enormous costs caused by the operational downtime," says Rettinger.

    There is a lot of capital in heavy construction machinery that has to be moved. A crane costs about one million euros per axle. If such an eight-axle crane cannot be started because the engine is frozen, this has financial consequences. Webasto heaters are used to ensure that construction equipment can operate for as long as possible, even in extreme environments of -40 degrees Celsius and below. Example: Depending on the target region, up to four heaters can be installed in a large crane:

    • 2 kW air heater for the driver's cab during idle times. 
    • 15 kW water heater for the engine and hydraulics on the undercarriage.
    • 5.5 kW air heater that blows on the transmission pan to heat the transmission oil to reach the target viscosity.
    • 9 kW water heater for the upper carriage to heat the rear cabin, from which the telescopic boom is controlled, and hydraulics.
  • Quality and a worldwide support network minimize operational downtimes caused by cold conditions

    The various heaters can be switched on as soon as it gets too cold for the components. In particularly cold areas, such as at the Neumayer Station III in the Antarctica, the Webasto heaters in the snow cat run permanently during expeditions and with the appropriate weather forecast. Rettinger: "No one wants to risk the operating equipment freezing and thus the crew getting stuck in the eternal ice. That's why the engines are kept at a temperature of 90 to 100 degrees Celsius day and night with an efficient engine heater."

    If human and machine are to function in the deep cold, the installed components must meet the highest quality standards. "The worst thing that can happen is the failure of a vehicle costing several million Euros due to a component that did not comply with the EU standard, and which cannot be replaced immediately," says Rettinger. Here he sees another advantage of Webasto: "We can provide spare parts at any time through our global dealer network."

  • Heating solutions for the toughest conditions together with customers

    There is a long-standing, trusting business relationship with Webasto's customers.
    Rettinger: "We regularly exchange ideas with our customers, collaborate and work on prototypes. Customers already know what heating output they need. Together, we find the best technical solutions, optimize the mechanical and electrical system integration, and pay attention to details such as cross-sections, positioning, and cable routing."

    Detailed documentation and acceptance of the vehicle before its first use are also important. Customers can rely on the high Webasto quality promise; field offices in the cold countries can identify, localize, and rectify possible defects

  • Even electrified giant construction machines need heat

    While the technical implementation of thermal concepts for fuel-operated construction machinery has been practiced thousands of times and is firmly established, the upcoming requires a technically multidimensional approach – and joint measures: "In purely physical terms, the efficiency of the battery deteriorates as the batteries get colder and colder. This poses challenges for the battery conditioning. If you try to heat a vehicle with a 30 kW heating capacity purely via electrical heat, a huge battery pack will be necessary," says Rettinger.

    The technical solutions for the electrification of construction machinery are already available. Electrification is also no longer a niche topic. For example, BAUMA, one of the world's leading trade shows, will have “electrification” as its theme in 2022. To address the opportunities and challenges, thermal and battery experts at Webasto are working closely together to always keep construction machinery and its operators at a comfortable operating temperature.

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