The bright sparks at JCB have delivered an electric mini excavator solution that’s proving indispensable for Bridgewater Homes.
The future of the most compact plant is increasingly on an electric avenue and JCB is one of the manufacturer’s leading the charge. Part of its growing E-TECH portfolio of battery-powered solutions, the 1,092kg operating weight, 19C-1E has a number of benefits over its diesel siblings, and a leading south-east developer has become an enthusiastic advocate of the technology.
From its Dunstable base, Bridgewater Homes delivers high quality new builds in the Herts, Beds and Bucks area. The company is a firm believer in buying plant, rather than renting, and has been consistently brand-loyal to JCB.
Continuing that theme, the JCB 19C-1E electric mini excavator has been purchased with a view to comfortably undertake basement and indoor works, as well as more general duties. “A forthcoming scheme in Leighton Buzzard is a pub conversion,” reveals Bridgewater Homes Operations Manager, Andrew Cross, “and we can get the JCB 19C-1E inside the building without having to worry about diesel fumes and noise. We can equally undertake work in basements and, on this site, in the underground car park. At the same time, it’s equally adept at plot landscaping, excavating service trenches, grading and is a real multi-tasker.”
The Harpenden scheme we visited has proven to be a challenging build. A five-storey construction, with two below ground, is further complicated by a gradient front to back and left to right. An adjacent electric sub-station has had to be lowered to the same level as the underground car park, whilst 11 below ground storage tanks have also been installed. The build began in September 2021, a time period that inevitably entailed complications with the pandemic, and the Bridgewater Homes team will complete in June of 2023
Andrew is full of praise for the JCB’s on the developer’s fleet. “If we hire a machine and it does the job for us – and it looks like we’ll be using the same machine again – then we always prefer to own it. We’re already in possession of an 8.6-tonne JCB 86C-2 excavator, a 3T-2 Site Dumper, and a 14m 540-140 telehandler, as well as the more compact 4m, 520-40 Loadall. We purchase all our plant from Watling JCB and we can’t fault the aftercare and service from them.”
Andrew is himself an operator and has found the 19C-1E to be a user friendly solution. “Across the JCB product portfolio you can be assured of reliability, power, stability and ease of controls, and that’s certainly the case with the electric mini,” he continues. “The battery power also makes it much smoother in operation and the controls are more intuitive. If anything, you get more power than you would from a diesel machine.”
The 19C-1E has various charging cable solutions to suit your application, as well as single phase and three phase, all of which ensures the machine is there when you need it, as Andrew explains: “We’ve been charging overnight and do seem to get a full shift from it. Although there is a cost differential between diesel and electric excavators, you do equally have to factor in the increased cost of fuel, particularly with the end of the red diesel rebate, because the white is now three times the price.”
“It can take a bit of time to get used to – with the absence of any noise rather strange at first – but at the same time it certainly makes for a better experience for the operator, especially with the full cab – and anyone working in the vicinity.”
The material handling dexterity of the electric mini, working in tandem with the 520-40 telehandler, has proven invaluable in off-loading from trucks to bring it down the ramp to the underground car park. “The compact telehandler is also a highly manoeuvrable machine that’s done everything we’ve asked of it. It makes the turn into the underground car park easily and fits underneath. It’s the only place in the whole build that we can utilise for storage so it’s really cut down on manual handling around site. They’re certainly the best telehandlers and you really can’t go wrong with the 535 telehandler either. Having the electric mini here as well give us more options, especially in underground areas.”
The 19C-1E is zero emissions at the point of use, with drastically reduced noise levels in operation. A significantly simplified powertrain means daily checks and maintenance are reduced. Moreover, electricity is much cheaper than the white diesel that contractors are now compelled to adopt on site and it’s eminently suited for work in confined spaces, in urban areas, or sensitive locations.
There’s three options to charge the unit’s 4 battery pack – 110V, 230V and 415V – whilst levels of charge can be constantly monitored via a gauge on the instrument panel. The ability to be able to hear your colleagues easier on site shouldn’t be underestimated from a safety perspective, not to mention the inherent improvements to the working environment, with noise at the operator station a significant 10dB less than its diesel counterpart. That opens up the possibility of ‘out-of-hours’ working which could in itself speed up a job and improve levels of productivity.
The canopy or cab is ROPS, TOPS and FOGS certified and the 100% steel bodywork will withstand the toughest of sites with a full width rear cast counterweight giving full protection against damage. The extending undercarriage beams are also constructed from 25mm solid steel plate. “In the time we’ve been using the 19C-1E there does seem to be a number of advantages for owners and operators,” concludes Andrew. Indeed, a machine that’s in tune with our drive to net zero is making for an electric atmosphere on site!
For further information on the JCB 19C-1E electric mini excavator visit: https://machinestore.jcb.com/en-GB/machines/mini-excavators/19c1e-canopy?ppc_keyword=&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIoOmosLvb_gIVAd7tCh3HbwACEAAYASAAEgIfBfD_BwE
To find out more about the 520-40 Loadall visit https://www.jcb.com/en-gb/products/telescopic-handlers/520-40-construction