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Large loader offers higher productivity, lower costs

Komatsu loader


Komatsu Mining, the mining division of Komatsu Australia, has released an upgraded version of its 11m3 to 13m3 class mining loader: the WA900-8R. It incorporates innovative technology features that deliver increased productivity and ease of operation, while reducing operating costs. 

The WA900-8R loader, the largest that can be operated in a quarry, incorporates Komatsu’s SmartLoader Logic technology to provide the engine with the precise torque for each part of the duty cycle. 

Komatsu’s national product manager Mark Summerville said SmartLoader Logic can improve the WA900-8R’s fuel economy by up to 10 per cent compared with the previous WA900-3E0, while also increasing productivity. Other  productivity improvements include a modulation clutch for controlling speed and torque, along with faster boom raise speeds for faster cycle times. 

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

The new loader includes a Komvision obstacle detection system that uses radar and 360-degree cameras to alert the operator if a person, vehicle or obstacle is detected. This greatly improves personnel safety in and around the machine.

The WA900-8R, powered by a 671kW Komatsu engine, has an operating weight of 116.4 tonnes. It is matched for loading 90-tonne dump trucks (Komatsu HD785 size) in standard configuration, and up to 140-tonne trucks (Komatsu HD1500) in high-lift spec.


Komatsu Mining has listed numerous features that can increase the loader’s productivity while reducing operating costs, including:

  • SmartLoader Logic system for improved fuel economy.
  • A large capacity torque converter.
  • A tyre slip control system.
  • Increased boom speed and breakout force.

SmartLoader Logic optimises the engine torque across all applications to minimise fuel consumption while giving the loader the torque and digging power it needs. 

“This system functions automatically and doesn’t interfere with operation, saving fuel without decreasing production,” Summerville said.

The system is matched to the loader’s automatic transmission, with an electronically controlled modulation (ECM) valve that automatically selects the correct gear speed based on travel speed, engine speed, and other travel conditions. 

“This ECM system also engages the clutch smoothly to prevent lags and shocks when shifting,” Summerville said.

The WA900-8R’s powertrain has a large capacity torque converter designed to ensure optimum efficiency.

 “This ensures greater productivity in ‘V-shape’ loading applications because the torque converter’s increased tractive effort means it doesn’t require full throttle,” Summerville said. “It also allows the loader to achieve higher gear ranges and maintain higher travel speeds when working in load and carry applications.”

The loader’s hydraulics are designed around 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 contributes to better fuel economy,” Summerville explained.

Another feature is a tyre slip control system. When it senses tyre slip, the control system applies the modulated clutch to control the torque converter and minimise tyre slip.

 “All these features combine to reduce fuel consumption by up to 10 per cent – while also increasing productivity – compared with the WA900-3E0,” Summerville said.

The WA900-8R features Komatsu’s latest generation cab to improve operator comfort and safety. It includes the addition of a trainer seat, shockless stop cylinders, climate control air conditioning and modulated clutch. These features, combined with ergonomic improvements, all contribute to higher operator productivity, easier and safer operation, and reduced fatigue. The cab also includes:

  • A new automatic digging system.
  • A semi-automatic approach and dump system.
  • A redesigned large operator cabin seat, incorporating low effort control levers and an advanced joystick steering system.
  • An electronically controlled suspension system (ECSS).

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

The digging system works in conjunction with the semi-auto approach and dump system.

“This automates boom lift and bucket dumping when approaching a dump truck, particularly in ‘V-shape’ loading operations,” Summerville said. “Combining this with our automatic digging system, loading operations from stockpile to dump truck are made easier, and operator effort and fatigue greatly reduced.”

The operator’s compartment – a large, pillarless ROPS/FOPS cab – features a new air suspension seat that provides enhanced support on rough roads and dampens machine vibrations. “Integrated within the seat is an electronic pilot control lever console and a joystick steering lever,” Summerville said.

With WA900-8R loaders used in load and carry applications, Komatsu has standardised the ECSS to reduce pitching and bouncing on uneven surfaces. “This ensures better travel performance, reduced operator fatigue and less material spillage, while delivering a smooth ride, even at high travel speeds,” Summerville said.


Maintenance and serviceability have been optimised through a high resolution in-cab monitoring system, which works in conjunction with Komatsu’s Komtrax Plus remote system.

Maintenance is also simplified through side-opening engine doors, an accessible engine compartment with dual-side engine bay access ladders, along with a swing-out reverse cooling fan and wide-core radiator (with modular core).

An adjustment-free braking system, along with service brakes mounted in-board from the final drives and brake on the sun gear, ensure increased brake life. 

Improved loader linkage and upgraded structures for the front and rear frame provide a longer structure life. The machine is also fitted with nine lanyard anchorage points, providing safer maintenance access in difficult areas.

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

For more information about the WA900-8R and other products, visit komatsu.com.au

This article appears in the October issue of Quarry Magazine.

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