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Volvo takes pipe laying to another level

Digger Blogger | 14:06, Sun July 01 2012

The Digger Blog has just returned from an exciting trip to Lorient in France, where I joined an illustrious collection of international journalists to witness the official debut of Volvo’s new concept pipe laying machine, the PL3005D.

Volvo Construction Equipment has recently celebrated 180 years of innovation, so it comes as no surprise to see yet another innovative machine joining the company’s already impressive portfolio of products. The revolutionary PL3005D is a specialist pipe laying machine which has been based around its sibling D Series excavator, and indeed shares around 80% of its components.

This patented machine could, in my opinion, become a natural successor to the traditional tracked type tractor/side boom pipe layers, which have been the industry’s machine of choice for many years. These 50 ton lift capacity machines, offer the end user much greater flexibility than conventional side boom machines, with their ability to swing the superstructure 360 degrees, and precision positioning of the load at all times. In addition a digging kit is also available enabling the machine to be converted into excavator mode which is an attractive proposition to any fleet owners.

According to President of Volvo Construction Equipment’s EMEA (Europe - Middle East - Africa) sales region Tomas Kuta, early customer feedback on the new product has been extremely positive so far, and it’s not difficult to see why when one considers the flexibility this type of machine offers. The machine is fitted with a rugged high clearance, track type tractor undercarriage, which offers great traction on rugged terrain. In its standard guise the machine is fitted with 24in (600mm) track pads, but these can be upgraded to the wider 32in (800mm) pads for added stability and lower ground pressure if required. It is claimed the PL3005D can work on slopes of up to 30 degrees, very useful when you consider that large pipeline contracts often run through inhospitable and mountainous terrain.

Safety is also a paramount issue on this machine too, with the fitment of a heavy-duty mechanical slew lock that firmly secures the superstructure at any working angle in relation to the undercarriage, however heavy the load is on the end of the boom.


Another big bonus point in terms of safe operation is the fact that these machines feature longer booms which can offer much higher hook heights and longer reach which enables the machine to sit much further back from the trench when performing lifting duties further avoiding the risk of trench collapse. This does not affect the operators view into the trench however, thanks to the fitting of a four bar cab riser which raises the cab to improve the operator’s view of the work area.

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As we know the latest D Series cab is a superb place to spend a working day, with all controls nicely laid out and very operator friendly. Full air-conditioning with numerous air vents helps to reduce stress and fatigue that we, as operators, all face daily during long arduous shifts on sites. Another useful addition in the PL3005D’s cab is the machines load management system (LMS). The LMS enables the operator to see exactly what weight can be safely lifted at any position relative to the slope the machine is sat on. Using inputs from the hook, boom and base-machine mounted sensors it enables the system to monitor boom angle, machine orientation and inclination.

The computer uses this information to constantly calculate and display actual loads and related working loads, all in real time. This enables the operator to receive relevant information, together with graphic displays, on an in-cab monitor. There are also visible and audible warning signals that notify the operator when the machines safe load limit is reached. There is also red, yellow and green strip light display at the top of the boom on both sides to visually alert members of the ground crew of the machines safe working load status.

I was extremely interested in this machine and can see a big future for the concept in the pipe laying industry. I look forward to following the progress of the machines in the field here on the Digger Blog.




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