Wirtgen Group is preparing for a busy 2023, with a range of new technology solutions set to streamline how its Australian customers get their work done.
At Bauma in Munich last October, Wirtgen Group – just a few hours from its headquarters in Windhagen, Germany – showcased a business united in its commitment to efficiency and innovation.
The large ‘Technology Zone’ at the centre of a sprawling range of exhibits at the event demonstrated a major point of focus for Wirtgen Group and its brands for 2023 and beyond.
Wirtgen Australia Managing Director Stuart Torpy says the company’s global objective is to help customers boost efficiency and sustainability through smarter use of their equipment.
“This is a big focus for Wirtgen Group going forward,” he says. “We continue to make things quieter and more fuel efficient, but it’s also about how the gear is used.
“Machinery in some model classes will sometimes idle for 60 per cent of the day. If you want to know how your business can reduce emissions and save money – that’s a good place to start.”
Torpy says newer smart machinery can often intuitively manage such processes – for example, the spinning drum of a milling machine coming to a stop after it detects inactivity for a specified period.
He says the more processes that can be automated, the greater the opportunity for emissions and wear reduction, and cost savings.
“Skilled operators are getting harder and harder to find,” Torpy adds. “We’re trying to automate things in a way that takes the pressure off operators, or allows them to concentrate on fewer tasks.”
Torpy highlights five new products that exemplify how Australian road constructors can harness the power of Wirtgen Group technology to boost efficiency across their businesses.
“Each one is designed to provide incremental improvements to efficiency,” he says. “But when you add that up over a year, it can have a significant impact on our customers’ businesses. The speed of your jobs, the fuel you use, and the carbon you emit.
“Every one of our brands is using technology to pull all that together.”
Torpy also stresses that many of Wirtgen Group’s new smart solutions will offer tangible benefits to owners of single machines, not just large fleets.
“It’s not all about the big guys,” he says. “Depending on where you work, there’s about 250 working days in a year, and if one of these products helps you run one piece of gear just 10 per cent more efficiently every day, you’ve just gained a month.”
AutoTrac for the WR series of cold recyclers and soil stabilisers is an automated, satellite-navigation-assisted steering system designed to optimise the efficiency of each mixing pass.
Brett Ferris, Wirtgen Product Support Manager, says the centimetre-precision offered by AutoTrac will minimise unnecessary overlaps or gaps between runs.
“AutoTrac places a marker at each end of the first cut, and places a grid over the whole job,” he says. “The machine can then align to this grid and guide itself accordingly over the whole width of the job, leaving an optimal amount of overlap.”
Ferris says this boost to efficiency and quality is even more valuable when contractors are relying on less experienced operators.
“Once an operator learns the AutoTrac system, the time it takes to build confidence in accurate mixing will be significantly reduced,” he says.
“We’re seeing a big push for the economy of machines, both for the sake of carbon output, but also given the price of fuel. If we can complete a job in fewer, more effective runs, that means less running time for the machine, lower operating costs, and more money in the pocket for machine owners.”
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Kleemann, Wirtgen Group’s crushing and screening plant brand, is introducing Spective Connect, an interactive interface to provide remote machine control, visibility, and performance data.
Ben Lefroy, Kleemann National Sales Manager AU/NZ, says Spective Connect builds on the existing Spective control panel by combining that same functionality with the flexibility of a smartphone app.
“This allows for a more streamlined operation by providing full control of the crushing circuit from the cab of the feed machine,” he says.
Though a simple addition to Kleemann’s Spective operating concept, Lefroy says Spective Connect could allow contractors to reduce the manpower necessary on the ground for plant operation, while streamlining the process of sharing production data.
“Given the challenges we are facing across all industries in Australia with finding skilled workers, the addition of Spective Connect could be hugely beneficial,” he says.
On the machinery side of Wirtgen Group’s latest technology, Vögele is introducing a new line of pavers: the ‘Dash 5’ range.
Initially comprising the SUPER 1900-5 and SUPER 2100-5 models, the Dash 5 pavers promise a range of operational, automation, efficiency, and sustainability upgrades that will set contractors up for the current and future needs of the road construction industry.
Paul Ridgeway, Wirtgen Applications Support Manager, Road Technologies, says the new pavers are a leap forward in both efficiency and ergonomic design.
“Time is money, and shorter setup times can save hundreds of hours per year,” he says.
“Adjusting the stroke of tampers previously required the use of tools to adjust two points on every screed section – that’s eight points on a basic extendable screed. Now with the Dual Power Shift Tamper option, tamper stroke can be altered across the whole screed at the touch of a button.”
Ridgeway says the new Paver Access Control (PAC) function allows operators to raise and lower the screed and canopy from ground level, as well as switching on work lights and starting the engine.
“New screed display units eliminate cables and allow quick connection and disconnection – even when the engine is running,” he says.
The latest ErgoPlus 5 operating system builds on the same structure, but refines control function layout and display clarity.
“We think operators will appreciate these refinements, and adapt to them quickly,” Ridgeway says.
Wirtgen Group’s soil compactor manufacturer HAMM is introducing Smart Doc, a smartphone app to help easily document and share compaction data.
Craig Yeats, HAMM Product Support Manager, calls it “a fresh look” at entry-level Intelligent Compaction monitoring – one that he expects will lower the barrier to entry for the technology.
“Ease of use is the key feature of Smart Doc,” Yeats says. “The free downloadable app replaces most of the hardware required for the HCQ (HAMM Compaction Quality) IC system, while still using the same sensors and machine data – instead connecting via a Bluetooth module.
“The operator can track their passes, compaction, and asphalt temperature to ensure they are giving the compacted material the best chance of meeting specification.”
Yeats says the early feedback from Bauma attendees was positive, and interest has been building in Australia for retrofit options.
“It’s all about improving compaction practices and getting the most efficiency out of the rollers,” he says.
“Any engineer will tell you the first thing to get right is compaction. Regardless of what goes on top – asphalt, concrete, a house or a skyscraper – if the base isn’t right, everything on top is at risk.
“If we can get the compaction process right, our roads will last longer and require less maintenance, which saves everyone money.”
The big picture
Tying everything together, Operations Center is a centralised platform for all digital solutions offered by Wirtgen Group. It is designed to provide a high-level solution to manage the range of data accessible through this suite of technology, and help put that data to practical use.
Torpy says Wirtgen Group’s new technology will benefit businesses of any size, but Operations Center makes the technology outputs and data easily accessible on both a machine and jobsite level.
“Operations Center is really built to bring machine, fleet and job information to your fingertips,” he says. “It can help you monitor progress, analyse data across your fleet – whether that be one unit or many – and produce customer reports and quality records. There’s a lot that you can generate from the platform based on how you operate and manage your machine or machines.”
Torpy says once launched, Operations Centre will continue to grow as new technology solutions are developed and implemented to help Wirtgen Group customers get the most out of their machines.
“The machines themselves can only be so efficient,” Torpy says. “But if you’re not aiming in the right direction, you’re never going to hit the targets.
“You’ve really got to be able to use the tools well. And that’s what Wirtgen Group’s technology is aiming to enable.”