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Komatsu semi-auto loader alleviates skills shortage



Komatsu has upgraded its WA900-8R loader using its SmartLoader Logic technology, boosting fuel efficiency by 10 per cent and improving boom raise speeds.

The WA900-8R is an 11 cubic metre (m3) to 13m3 class mining loader, matched for loading 90-tonne standard dump trucks and 140-tonne high lift trucks.

The SmartLoader technology ensures just the right amount of torque is distributed to each part of the duty cycle.

Komatsu national product manager Mark Summerville said the upgrade benefits operations while feeling largely the same to the operator.

“These features, combined with automatic dig and a semi-automatic approach and dump system, means the WA900-8R can significantly improve an average operator’s efficiency,” Summerville said.

“(The SmartLoader Logic) system functions automatically and doesn’t interfere with operation, saving fuel without decreasing production,” Summerville said.

With its semi-automated features like the auto-dig and dump technology, the WA900-8R has been upgraded with the extractive industries’ skills shortage in mind.

Summerville explained how these features benefit operators and their employers.

“We often talk about the skills gap, and the ability to get people who are correctly trained to operate these machines. By incorporating these features into our equipment, we’re able to improve a ‘green skin’, or an average operator, up to a very good operator,” he said.

The WA900-8R has also received a new large capacity torque converter, tyre slip control system, and increased boom breakout force and speed.

SmartLoader uses an electronically controlled modulation (ECM) valve for an automatic advantage.

“This ECM valve system also engages the clutch smoothly to prevent lags and shocks when shifting, for more efficient machine operation and a more comfortable ride,” Summerville said.

“The WA900 is excellent for that in fit loading of quarry units. We’ve also enhanced our load and carry capabilities for some quarries which may need that. So, we have allowed for faster travels speeds with our new electronic suspension on the boom.”

Summerville went on to explain the loader’s hydraulic systems, which are designed on Komatsu’s closed-centre load sensing system (CLSS) technology.

“This uses a variable displacement piston pump combined with CLSS to deliver hydraulic flow exactly when the task requires it, preventing wasted hydraulic flow, which further contributes to better fuel economy,” he said.

The tyre slip control system, while benefiting the overall tyre life, is another factor in the WA900-8R’s enhanced fuel economy, thanks to the modulated clutch and torque converter.

As for the in-cabin comforts, Komatsu has taken the coalface crew into consideration with its latest generation cab, trainer seat, shockless stop cylinders, climate control air conditioning and, of course, the modulated clutch.

Combined with an automatic digging system, semi-automatic approach and dump system and an electronically controlled suspension system (ECSS), operators will feel like they’ve barely lifted a finger.

“Our new automatic digging system actuates the bucket tilt and lifting operations by detecting the sensing pressure applied to the work equipment,” Summerville said.

“It’s designed to significantly reduce operator fatigue and improve efficiency, ensuring optimum bucket fill every time the machine enters the pile, whether in rock or in loose materials.”

Maintenance capabilities have been considered by Komatsu, with side-opening engine doors for easy access and a swing-out cooling fan with reverse and wide-core radiator.

“With our new WA900-8R loader, Komatsu has developed a best in class mining loader, while delivering significantly higher productivity and operating efficiency, combined with lower fuel consumption and reduced operating costs,” Summerville said.


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