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Figure 1. A drone’s-eye view of Winstone Aggregates’ Flatop Quarry, in Auckland, New Zealand.
Figure 1. A drone’s-eye view of Winstone Aggregates’ Flatop Quarry, in Auckland, New Zealand.

SmartConstruction in practice

The Komatsu SmartConstruction program unifies multiple technology platforms to provide customers with integrated product, service and support solutions across the life of a project. Aaron Marsh discusses some of the initial work done in the field.

Komatsu Australia has recently trialled the SmartConstruction concept in a New Zealand quarry with the drone UAV service. What were the quarry’s requirements for the trial?

The customer won a free drone survey at our Intelligent Machine Control (iMC) event in the Hunter Valley, so we did a complimentary survey for them. They were using the data for site survey and mine extension, volume reporting of stockpiles and to understand in what other areas they could use the data.

What was the size of the footprint of the quarry site that was surveyed by the UAV service?

Figure 1 is the area that was surveyed. This was done with two batteries at a flight height of 120m. The total area surveyed was 580,000m2, the actual quarry area accounted for 98,500m2.

What sort of data was being sought from the UAV trial?

In the case of the quarry, it was purely for survey and volume calculations and geotechnical survey for planning. However, the survey can be used for multiple options such as EPA inspections, volume reporting, planning, detailed survey for constructing new mine areas, cut and fill volumes, etc.

Could this data be used to improve the operator’s earthworks activities within the quarry?

It could definitely improve management of a lot of things within the quarry, like haul road profiles, haul road management and inspection, bench inspections, working floor management and planning, and oversize inspection after blasting. iMC would benefit some areas in the quarry, mainly in our larger machines such as the D155AXi-8, D375AXi-8 and PC450LCi-11.

Of course, site as-built management through our SmartConstruction cloud environment would enhance the management and planning by understanding and knowing how much material is being moved in areas where the iMC machines are working and also being able to re-fly with the drone after a certain period of time to collect real time, as-built information and upload into the SmartConstruction cloud application Komconnect.

To use Komatsu SmartConstruction’s UAV drone service, is it mandatory that the drones be flown by licenced Komatsu pilots/ operators? Or is there scope for the customer to fly the drones themselves or employ other non-Komatsu pilots for that purpose?

To fly commercially in Australia with our high precision survey drone, you must comply with Civil Aviation Safety Authority regulations, so we had to get an operator’s licence for Komatsu Australia, including delegating a chief pilot within the business to approve all flights.

The only way you can also get insurance is to get the above approved licences. We have done that and we now have qualified remotely piloted aircraft system pilots, have insurance and a company operator’s licence. Of course, the customer can do the same but they really have to get all the above qualifications and insurance, etc.

iMC is likely to be implemented in quarry-spec excavators, dozers and loaders in the next year. What sizes of machine will be available to quarrying customers?

We have PC360LCi-11 and PC450LCi-11 excavators coming in the next six to 12 months. There is also a place in quarries for our current D85EXi-18 and D155AXi-8 iMC dozers. The D375AXi-8 will be introduced to our mining market in the coming months and will be the first mining size iMC dozer to enter that market segment.

Is SmartConstruction limited to existing Komatsu customers and machinery? Is it possible to link other non-Komatsu plant to these services? Or does Komatsu offer a package that would incorporate the sale of new earthmoving plant?

There are many levels and models within the SmartConstruction business that can accommodate machines other than iMC units, and there are sharing technologies from other OEMs that may integrate to our systems in the future. Of course, Komatsu can offer the end to end solution for the customer that includes the back end technologies of SmartConstruction, along with new iMC machines for the right application.

We can also offer other machine control and site solutions through our support partners so we can offer the total solution package for our customers.

Aaron Marsh

Aaron Marsh is Komatsu Australia’s national technology solution expert manager, with responsibility for the introduction and market development of Intelligent Machine Control and the SmartConstruction business covering Australia and New Zealand.

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Monday, 16 September, 2019 6:35am
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