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The image shows an evocative and emotional scenario about how electrification of offroad machinery leads to A greener, smarter future at the intersect

Engineering Vision in Sustainability and Innovation Leadership

To achieve a sustainable world, no leader can stand alone.
In a recent presentation at the Future of Electrification 2024 conference, Luca Vezzadini, Application Engineer at ZIVAN, drove this point home through the lens of a unique topic: engineering vision. 

A greener, smarter future lies at the intersection of innovation and sustainability, but some questions need to be addressed first. Where are we going with electrification, and how do we get there? 

These questions are of particular interest for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in off-road machinery. As electrification sees slower adoption in these sectors, the principles behind engineering vision offer profound insights into the tangible benefits of aligning with sustainability initiatives.

Watch the full session here:

Global Trends in Engineering Vision

Every year, the pace of technological advancement accelerates, pushing leading Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to stay attuned to the underlying trends driving new developments.

Recent transformative breakthroughs in areas like artificial intelligence and renewable energy illustrate the powerful, yet often unseen, forces shaping the industry. 

These forces manifest as five key tenets that underpin the modern engineering vision:

  • Visionary leadership 
  • Industry transformation
  • Sustainable finance
  • Compliance and certification
  • Social equity

A detailed examination of each tenet offers crucial insights into how these principles are driving the evolution of engineering practices and helping shape a more sustainable and equitable future.

engineering vision_ZIVAN

Visionary Leadership

Innovation is the lifeblood of engineering vision. To meet the needs of a safer and more sustainable world, a technology infrastructure must be in place to make that happen. This starts from the ground up, establishing and encouraging a mindset of continuous learning and collaboration.

Industry transformation

At the same time, sustainability cannot be achieved through technology alone. Sustainable technologies must be embraced alongside sustainable practices. Such practices can only be established with full leadership commitment—willingness to embrace green logistics at every link of the supply chain. 

Green logistic-FOE 2024_ZIVAN

Sustainable Finance

Financial institutions and investors are increasingly acknowledging the critical role of environmental stewardship. This recognition is manifested through tax credits and incentives that reduce the costs of purchasing and owning electric vehicles (EVs). Additionally, principles of sustainable finance are foundational in developing both public and private charging infrastructure, including off-grid EV charging stations, which are essential for promoting wider adoption.

Compliance and Certification

For emerging battery and charger technologies, rigorous testing protocols are crucial. These include publishing Environmental Product Declarations (EPD), which involve several key steps:

  • Establishing product category rules
  • Conducting a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
  • Ensuring quality assurance through external verification

These certifications empower OEMs to establish partnerships with suppliers and vendors who uphold similar environmental principles, offering tangible evidence of their commitment to sustainability.

Social Equity

Centred on the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, this fifth and final tenet underscores the holistic integration of sustainable practices. A growing number of ambitious governmental policies and international partnerships are focused on these sustainability objectives, aiming to significantly reduce emissions by 2030 and achieve net-zero carbon neutrality by 2050.

Potential savings in 2030 ERIA 2029, ZIVAN, FOE 2024

Drivers of Zero-Emission Powertrains

An increasing number of industry stakeholders recognize the long-term economic benefits of electric powertrains. Electrification is gaining momentum in non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) sectors as well, driven by factors such as: 

  • Battery and charger technology – Electric drivetrains enable some machinery to operate with zero emissions and lower total cost of ownership compared to combustion engines.
  • Zero-emission culture – Stringent government regulations and sustainability awareness are pushing more investor capital into electric sectors.
  • Market demand – External elements, such as crackdowns on noise pollution, are driving increased sales of electric excavators, loaders, and agricultural machinery.

While growth is significant, there are still challenges. Most notably, battery cost and availability are ever-present constraints, with close to 50% of the electronic component market share coming from the battery pack alone. Efforts to develop a more comprehensive charging infrastructure are also needed to support widespread adoption.

NRMM sustainability strategy_ZIVAN_FOE 2024

From Concept to Green Solution

Sustainable engineering is central to EV design. This requires OEMs to rethink every link of the production supply chain from an electric perspective, to the ultimate goal of a zero-emission machine purpose-built for efficiency and value.

At the forefront of zero-emission NRMM is choice of battery chemistry, bringing a variety of tradeoffs and considerations in regards to: 

  • Energy density
  • Lifespan 
  • Charge speed
  • Safety

These factors must be weighed in tandem with overall electrical and vehicular architecture—what dimensions and shapes must the battery pack be arranged in? How will the chosen battery thermally integrate with the electric drive(s)? 

Strategic partnerships and collaborations are crucial in answering these questions relevant to their intended application.

NRMM Trends and Technology

Several emerging trends promise to drive greater electrification adoption across the industry. For example, electrified NRMM unlocks digital integrations unattainable with traditional fossil fuel engines. This improved connectivity allows for: 

  • Intelligent telematics – Allows for real-time system monitoring, predictive vehicle maintenance, and active optimizations to improve battery life and vehicle performance.
  • Automated operations – Electrified equipment paves the way for automation in hazardous sectors like mining, enabling safer, greener operations.
  • Blockchain technology – By providing a secure, immutable source of information, OEMs may see increased applications of the blockchain to establish traceable supply chains for vehicle parts, streamline transactions for parking and EV charging, and other applications.

Non-traditional fuel cells, such as hydrogen also promise zero-emission rapid refuelling, yet at a much higher cost due to its novel nature. Opting for such alternate fuels ultimately affects architectural considerations, such as how the power source communicates with the CAN bus system.

Data reflects that the next step in NRMM involves increasing the number of zero-emission vehicles available. Projections indicate the biggest growth will be in machinery with smaller loads and kilowattage, such as excavators and wheel loaders that operate under 50kW and 70kW respectively. 

Future drive technologies for mobile working machines up to 2023_ZIVAN_FOE 2024

The Future of Engineering Vision and Off-Road Machinery

Innovations in engineering are undoubtedly propelling the adoption of new technologies in off-road machinery. However, as previously noted, this is only a snippet of the big picture. We understand where we’re going—but we have yet to address how to get there.

Much of the answer lies in leadership and collaboration—issues highlighted by the current lack of a globally standardised EV charging system. Establishing and adhering to clearly defined key performance indicators (KPIs) is essential to drive progress. These KPIs, including metrics like CO2 savings and energy consumption, define and quantify progress.

Of course,  advancing these KPIs circles back to capital. Sustainable investments underpin the very infrastructure needed to meet global zero-emission objectives. OEMs and stakeholders must ask a vital question: what legacy will I leave for future generations? 

How we answer that question today will shape the world we live in tomorrow.

Media Contact 
Violetta Fulchiati | Marketing & Communication Specialist 
Phone: +39 0522 960593