Tech firm to lead £22m bid to make UK global leader

A Scottish technology firm is to lead a £22 million project aimed at revolutionising the £2.7 billion global market for off-road vehicles such as excavators.

Artemis Intelligent Power is heading up a consortium which has secured £11m in funding from a UK government and industry body to work on a new generation of specialist pumps and motors which could reduce energy consumption in specialist vehicles and material handling equipment by over 50 per cent.

Artemis and partners Danfoss – the Danish firm which is one of the world’s largest suppliers of hydraulic equipment to the off-road market – and Bathgate-based firm Robbie Fluid Engineering are matching the investment from the Advanced Propulsion Centre.

It is expected that the 42-month project, which will be run from Artemis’s base at Loanhead near Edinburgh, will see a number of new jobs created.

The consortium is to work on further developing Artemis’s “Digital Displacement” technology which aims to radically improve performance and reduce fuel consumption in off-road machines.

Artemis managing director Niall Caldwell said: “It’s not enough to invent these technologies in the UK – we also need to manufacture here and export round the world. This announcement paves the way for the UK to take the lead in a low-carbon technology with global potential.”

Currently over half of the energy produced by an engine can be wasted through losses in the hydraulic pump and system. The Digital Displacement technology uses a computer embedded in the equipment to enable and disable cylinders ultra-fast meaning they are only called into action as and when required.

Once fully developed, the consortium said the emissions reduction achieved by a Digital Displacement excavator will be equivalent to taking 18 diesel family cars off the road. Even with modest industry adoption rates, it believes the innovation could achieve CO2 savings of ten million tonnes over the first ten years.

Mark Robbie, director at Robbie Fluid Engineering, said although the hydraulic industry had made significant progress on reliability and robustness in recent years, there was a clear need to improve efficiency.

“At Robbie Fluid Engineering we are investing in the training and skills of a new generation of Scottish technologists who will be able to service and maintain this exciting equipment in the years to come,” he said.

Artemis’s technology has already been tested in a 16-tonne excavator where it was swapped with the existing hydraulic pump. The initial trial showed fuel savings of over 20 per cent and significant improvements in productivity. The new project will enable the consortium to make a “fully digital” system aimed at achieving greater fuel savings.