Komatsu has built its newest grader, the GD955-7, from the blade up to ensure the best operator experience in its line-up.
Michael Hall had never operated a grader before he tried Komatsu’s GD955-7 grader, which was set to enter the Australian market in the upcoming year.
But after jumping in the cabin, within 20 minutes, Hall had created a level, flat service using the GD955-7 grader’s intuitive fingertip controls.
Hall, who is Komatsu’s national product manager, said the easy-to-use grader results from extensive implementation of customer feedback.
“When Komatsu decided to build a new mining grader, we had our customers at the front of mind,” he said.
“We spoke with our customers, listened to their needs and built a machine that will meet those needs now and into the future.”
The critical message that Komatsu’s design team heard was operators wanted more effective blade downforce.
The extra machine weight and hydraulic force are critical. Without the correct downforce, the blade can bounce along instead of cutting down and carrying through as required.
With this in mind, Komatsu’s designers and engineers built the GD955-7 grader from the blade up. The grader comes standard with an 18-foot blade, but it does have a 20-foot blade option if the conditions are suitable for a wider blade.
“The GD955-7 grader has significantly more power than other graders in its class. It also has the highest operating weight in its class at nearly 47 tons,” Hall said.
“The GD955-7 grader is 33 per cent more productive than the previous Komatsu mining grader model because of the combination of its impressive 426-horsepower, higher effective blade downforce, and faster grading speed.”
Komatsu’s newest grader features 426 horsepower and a middle-speed mode with intermediate gear speeds of F2.5 and F3.5, giving the operator greater control.
The GD955-7 grader comes with two transmission modes. The normal manual mode runs like a conventional power shift, while the automatic mode features a torque converter transmission.
“In auto mode, the torque converter will be engaged in the first two gears to assist the operator, preventing engine stalling and improving productivity,” Komatsu Australia national training manager for operator training Robert Missingham said.
“It also has automatic or manual differential locks. If I choose automatic, it’ll bring the diff locks in when it detects spin itself.
“Manual operation means that they’re engaged all the time.
“But on either one, whenever I start to turn the machine, it’ll detect after a certain couple of degrees and kick them out so you can do a fluent turn.”
Komatsu believes the tight turning circle makes the GD955-7 a good match for anything from 90-tonne haul trucks, including its HD785 Dump Truck, through to 240-tonne haul trucks like its 830E Dump Trucks.
Operator comfort and safety was another key message delivered to Komatsu’s design team for the GD955-7 grader.
The new machine has a suite of features to help ensure workers can productively work in the quarry or mine even during a long shift.
It comes standard from the factory with KomVision, Komatsu’s 360° camera system. The system features five cameras that provide a bird’s-eye view around the machine through an inbuilt monitor, an additional rear-view monitor, and radar.
When the GD955-7 grader is operating, the KomVision radar will detect close objects, such as other vehicles, and notify the operator by an alarm.
The operator has complete control with a set-up that enables them to access multiple controls with one hand. The grader has fingertip control and palm steer options to suit the operator.
Missingham said the time and practice it would take to upskill workers on the fingertip controls would improve productivity.
“It is extremely user-friendly and provides increased comfort for the operator.
“People may be operating these graders for up to 12 hours, so comfort was another vital factor in the machine’s design.
“For those coming off a conventional joystick control, it may take some getting used to, but with practice and time, the fingertip control is much more effective.”
Hall said that given his experience with the GD955-7 grader, it could be used by a new operator or an experienced industry veteran.
“I found the controls intuitive and easy-to-use,” he said.
“We’ve channelled customer feedback into its design, this is a really operator-friendly grader we’re bringing to market.” •
For more information, visit komatsu.com.au