It’s no surprise that global construction equipment manufacturer Komatsu embodies that principle in its approach to product design, especially as it looks towards the future.
The manufacturer released a range of new “intelligent” dozers at the end of 2014. These machines have exceeded the bounds of conventional dozer operations and have led the market in what Aaron Marsh, Komatsu Australia’s National Operator Trainer Supervisor – Construction, calls “integrated design”.
The Komatsu D61EXi/PXi-23 is the flagship product in the company’s range of “intelligent” machine control dozers, which incorporate the industry’s first full automatic blade control system.
It can carry out automated finish grading, but also make all passes using automatic blade control, from rough dozing to finish grade. “The D61EXi-23 is unbelievable when on final grade, it’s also much more productive in heavy cut and cut-to-fill applications when compared with aftermarket equivalents, thanks to its load sensing and auto blade technology,” explains Mr. Marsh.
The ability to use the auto blade control all the time, allows the operator to control their compaction fill layers. The intelligent dozer integration also replaces the typical “bolt-on” machine control system components mounted on the blade.
The new machine features unique stroke-sensing hydraulic blade cylinders, a factory- installed cab top global navigation satellite system antenna, and an enhanced inertial measuring unit mounted on the chassis.
The D61EXi-23’s integrated factory installed machine control adheres to Komatsu’s three ‘I’s and three ‘C’s – integrated, intelligent, innovative; and no cables, no connections, no climbing.
“What this means is the integration is giving the customer greater productivity, greater availability, greater uptime, and it’s not reducing the risk of operators trips, slips and falls when climbing on and off the machines to place on components its simply removing the risk so from a workplace health and safety point is fantastic,” says Mr. Marsh. “The longevity and reliability of the machine control ensures the customers are getting the I-Value, less downtime more productivity.
“It separates completely from traditional machines due to the integration of machine control, something that has only been a bolt-on solution in the past.”
Mr. Marsh explains that the concept of integrated design has been on the horizon for a number of years, and in the past five it has gained a lot of traction. This helped to push the design methodology behind the D61EXi-23.
Mr. Marsh says that market feedback and efficiency were main considerations during the design process, as was the aim to provide a “Dantotsu” product, unique and unrivalled in the market.
Customer experience also influenced some of the key designs in the new dozer range. “The market were requesting a machine that required less operator input due to the global availability of skilled and ‘final trim’ operators,” says Mr. Marsh.
Part of the aim was to provide a machine that can still do high skilled design work with limited or no machine operation experience. “Bearing in mind that the better the operator, the greater the benefit from the technology,” he adds.
The primary machine functions, control operations and control box functions are made easy. “All the operator effectively needs to worry about is driving the machine forward and back, steering left and right, the dozer takes care of the rest.”
The technology also makes the D61EXi-23 scalable to larger Komatsu machines. “Using cutting mode, load sensing and auto blade control with minimal operator input in a heavy cut application, the D61EXi-23 will maintain maximum blade capacity all day on every pass. The machine is doing this to its capability, not the operators.
“Even though we’re not competing against the larger machines, the D61EXi-23, due to its efficiency and productivity advantages using integrated technology, could, for instance, out perform a four to five tonne heavier Komatsu D65EX-16 without intelligent technology with a blade capacity of 5.61 cubic metres over a full day of operation.
“All the operators we’ve demonstrated this technology to have loved the integration, operation, feel, accuracy and productivity,” says Mr. Marsh.
This coming financial year Komatsu are now looking at introducing in the D65EXi, D85EXi, D155AXi and the PC210LCi, which is the first automated machine control excavator in the world.