Danfoss and Sany Extend Electrification of Off-Highway Machines

The SCE800TB-EV is Sany’s first fully electric crawler crane with power by Danfoss.

The Sany SCE800TB-EV features an electric powertrain from Editron, a division of Danfoss. (Danfoss)

At Bauma 2022 in Munich, Germany, Danfoss revealed that its electrified powertrain system was driving a new electric crawler crane, the Sany SCE800TB-EV. This will be Sany’s first fully electric volume-model crawler crane and is available for batch order in the European market, where Danfoss states that there is increasing demand for zero-emission construction machines.

The Sany SCE800TB-EV seen in full. (Danfoss)

The Sany SCE800TB-EV is an 80-ton telescopic crane with a maximum lifting moment of 300 ton-meters and a maximum boom length of 47 meters (155 ft). The electric system features a permanent-magnetic synchronous motor and an inverter supplied by Danfoss’s Editron division as well as a Danfoss D1P hydraulic pump.

“We’ve been a strategic partner of Sany’s for several years, jointly developing a number of fully electric and hybrid machines such as a 25-ton truck crane,” said Chao Wang, head of Editron China at Danfoss Power Solutions. “Our experience in off-highway applications and the high efficiencies offered by our products are assisting Sany on its electrification evolution and helping the company’s products reach more parts of the world.”

Victor Yin, business development manager of Sany’s crane division, added: “We have an excellent relationship with Danfoss, as it offers the rich experience and European service system that we require from our suppliers. The company’s experts also go above and beyond to meet our needs, such as by testing the hydraulic system of our new fully electric crawler crane before installation to ensure all the components function well together.”

Yin continued: “The system test stage occurred in the middle of summer, with the outside temperature reaching nearly 40 degrees Celsius (104 deg F). Despite this scorching heat, the Danfoss team was always available to provide on-site support within less than a day’s notice.”

SAE Media interviewed Stefan Eichler, senior sales development manager for Editron, at Bauma 2022 where he discussed further details of the electrified Sany crane, the development challenges that electrified construction machines present, and how Danfoss views the future of electrification in the off-highway sector.

Taking charge

Danfoss partnered with Webasto to supply the battery packs for its electric powertrains. (Danfoss)

“The machine we exhibited here is the end result of a lot of development,” Eichler said. “It is zero emissions when it is at its place of work and was designed specifically for areas of the world where customers are being told that they need to achieve this by local regulations by a certain timeframe.”

Eichler discussed the details of the crane’s charging strategy and how its battery life is maximized. “The system is designed to not use all of its energy,” he explained. “We try to avoid emptying and filling it completely to provide the maximum lifetime. At the same time, we always aim to get the maximum charging power of the machine.”

“Electrification is about charging,” he continued. “The starting point should always be what is the infrastructure around your machine and what is the charging power available? The key to that is finding the source for it. It is very rare that a machine like this will be in an environment where it can pull a high level of power for charging. Charging speed is usually far more dependent on the socket.”

Customary expectations

Stefan Eichler, senior sales development manager Editron. (Danfoss)

Eichler also detailed the challenges of electrifying off-highway machines as well as meeting customer expectations with relatively new tech. “Our customers usually want to start the discussion about electrification on the motor side,” he said. “But in reality, this is the far end of the specification. It is our experience that, if you start at that end, you fail. If you start with what power is available and what capacity do you need, you can determine the answers to questions like machine size and battery capacity.”

Eichler explained the company’s process for determining what a customer’s needs are to properly develop the machine that fits their needs. “We ask questions like, ‘What energy does your machine need for one workday? What efficiency can you gain by electrification?’ Customers are coming to us because they know we are a very reliable supplier for meeting our promises. So, you have to meet these expectations even with new technology. That’s the biggest challenge for us.”

Adapting battery technology to modern construction machines is not without its pain points. “The biggest source of trouble is the battery or fuel cells, because this is not a mature technology,” Eichler said. “Batteries are very new in this world and fuel cells are even newer. There is no mature product portfolio and there are many new players.”

“Where a lot of OEMs run into trouble on the battery side specifically is that they overpromise,” Eichler continued. “This is why we teamed up with Webasto, in order to limit this risk. We needed a strong partner to make sure we can supply our customers with a running machine.”

Footing the bill

One of the talking points of electrification for all mobility sectors is the cost of entry. The off-highway market is no exception. “From a traditional hydraulic system to an electric one, the unit gets three times more expensive minimum,” Eichler said. “So regardless of size or capacity, your final machine will be much more expensive than before. The question becomes, who is paying this bill?

Despite the cost increase of electrified machines, Eichler still sees electrification as a necessary measure not only for decarbonization, but also as a necessity for energy conservation. “There is no cheap energy anymore,” he explained. “So, we have to save energy. We cannot afford to have efficiencies of 60% or less in our machines. Over 20% of carbon emissions worldwide come directly from construction sites. This is exactly what we cannot afford anymore.”