The story of Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) began in Eskilstuna, Sweden in 1832. Johan Theofron Munktell was a technical genius who built the company’s foundations by starting an engineering workshop in order to develop the local mechanical industry. Munktell’s knowledge was unrivalled; in his career, he developed Sweden’s first mechanical loom, harvester and steam locomotive, as well as the heating systems for all of Sweden’s prisons.
Prior to creating the foundations of Volvo CE, Munktell had also modernised Sweden’s minting machinery. Once Munktell left this role to move to Eskilstuna, he was replaced by another talented engineer, Jean Bolinder. Together with his younger brother Carl Gherard, Jean Bolinder travelled to England to learn more about engineering technology. Upon their return, the brothers decided to create their own company.
A century after Munktell’s start in Eskilstuna, Jean Bolinder himself moved to Eskilstuna and both companies merged under the name AB Bolinder-Munktell, which was later be purchased by Volvo in 1950.
The 19th Century Timeline:
|1832||Munktell started his workshop|
|1839||Munktell built a new manufacturing plant, expanding on the small premises|
|1844||Jean and Carl Gerhard Bolinder created their own company|
|1853||Munktells manufactured Sweden’s first locomotive|
|1880||Bolinders participated in manufacturing the world’s first submarine to fire a torpedo whilst underwater|
|1893||Bolinders constructed Sweden’s first combustion engine|
The 20th century was a time of monumental expansion for the companies before they merged into one and were purchased by Volvo in 1950.
|1906||Munktells began to build construction machinery with a steam-powered road roller|
|1913||Munktells produced Sweden’s first farm tractor|
|1932||The two companies merge due to the stock market collapse, forming AB Bolinder-Munktell|
|1940||During World War II, the company focuses efforts on manufacturing aircraft engines, as well as other products to aid the war effort|
|1950||Volvo purchased Bolinder-Munktell, forming what later became known as Volvo CE|
Following Volvo’s ownership of Bolinder-Munktell, 1954 was a monumental year where the company established themselves as construction equipment leaders as they produced their first wheel loader; the H10 was the first of its kind to feature a parallel lift arm system and attachment bracket. The company continued to develop and experiment with combinations of driven hauler trailers and tractors, and in 1966, they launched the world’s first series manufactured articulated hauler with all-wheel drive.
The following decade saw the company shift focus solely on construction machinery, abandoning the forestry and agricultural sectors in 1977. Continuing to grow, the company partnered with American manufacturer Clark Equipment and integrated itself within the VME group in 1985, opening themselves up the American market.
In 1995, Volvo purchased Clark Equipment’s shares in VME, establishing the Volvo Construction Equipment we know today. As they expanded, Volvo CE acquired multiple other companies, such as Åkermans Verkstad AB in 1991, Champion Road Machinery in 1997 and the construction equipment division of Samsung Heavy Industries in 1998. Alongside this, the company continued to widen their range of products, releasing the new 30-ton wheel loader L220D in the same year, impressing the market with productivity and low fuel consumption. By the end of the century, Volvo CE offered a truly wide range of machinery.
The 21st century and beyond
In the present day, Volvo CE is not only one of the oldest companies in the industry, but also one of the market leaders, achieved through carefully planned mergers and expansion.
Beginning the century with a new range of backhoe loaders, Volvo CE continued to expand their range of small to big machinery. 2005 saw the release of the powerful EC700B – an excavator in the 70-ton class. Since the mid 2000s, Volvo CE showed promise and innovation in saving energy and protecting the environment, introducing their new integrated electric-diesel hybrid concept in 2005. Volvo CE continued their mission of sustainability as in 2014, they launched of the Construction Climate Challenge (CCC) – an initiative to promote sustainability throughout the entire construction industry value chain.
In the past few years, Volvo CE’s ambitions have continued to be innovative; 2016 saw the unveiling of the Volvo Co-Pilot system and the introduction of a range of futuristic concepts at the Xploration Forum in Eskilstuna: the prototype of the LX01 hybrid wheel loader and an electric site solution to showcase the new HX01, an autonomous, battery-electric, load carrier. Electrification continued to be at the top of the agenda with the next generation electric load carrier concept, the HX02, and the EX02, a fully electric compact excavator prototype. Volvo CE also teamed up with Skanska on the Electric Site research project in 2017, creating the world’s first emissions-free quarry.
2019 was a big year for the company, with further acquisitions and the announcement of a new range of electric compact excavators and wheel loaders, later showcased at Bauma. Together with Telia and Ericsson, Volvo CE also launched Sweden’s first 5G network for industrial use at Volvo CE’s facility in Eskilstuna.
The past year has seen the opening of Volvo CE’s first dedicated Fuel Cell Test Lab, noting a significant advancement in the company’s ambition to be fossil-free by 2040. Volvo CE have continuously embraced technological innovation, particularly with the new initiative Factory 4 Tomorrow (F4T).
Explaining the company’s approach, Lina Stålberg, Manufacturing Technology Development and Governance at Volvo CE, commented:
“For us, Factory 4 Tomorrow is about far more than just introducing new technologies, there’s a far higher purpose behind it. It’s about building a world we want to live in and workplaces we want to work in.”