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Boots on ground for record product launch

As part of a global product launch, operators have had a glimpse at Komatsu’s latest generation of intelligent, “ultra-low” emissions, fuel-efficient earthmoving machines. Damian Christie spoke to Komatsu representatives about what some of these machines can offer the quarrying application.

The newest 25 models in the Komatsu range, which span excavators, loaders, trucks and graders, were unveiled at Komatsu Australia’s annual BOOTS ON event at the Hunter Plant Operating Training School in Cessnock, New South Wales on 10 and 11 May.

The event was designed to introduce Komatsu’s latest offerings – including the HM400-5 articulated dump truck, the GD655-6 grader and the HD605-8 rigid frame dump truck – to existing and potential customers across Australia.

Other machines on show included the PC240LC-11, PC290LC-11 and PC360LC-11 construction excavators, the “intelligent Machine Control” PC210LCi-10 excavator, the PC490LC-11 heavy construction/quarrying excavator and the WA380-8, WA470-8, WA500-8 and WA600-8 wheel loaders.

Komatsu also demonstrated its SMARTCONSTRUCTION technology, which covers the steps in a project’s development, from initial site survey, design and professional consultancy, through to operation and production.

Nearly 150 attendees from the industry were at the event, and all had the opportunity to test the capabilities of the machines.

The Tier 4 Final engine-compliant range of Dash 11 excavators at BOOTS ON. From left: PC138-11, PC240LC-11, PC290LC-11, PC360LC-11 and PC490LC-11.
The Tier 4 Final engine-compliant range of Dash 11 excavators at BOOTS ON. From left: PC138-11, PC240LC-11, PC290LC-11, PC360LC-11 and PC490LC-11.

Emissions, fuel savings

All of the machines featured at BOOTS ON are equipped with Komatsu’s US EPA/European Union Tier 4 Final emissions-certified engine technology, which can potentially reduce particulate matter (PM) and nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions levels by up to 90 per cent on previous generations of equivalent machines. Indeed, this was the key message that Komatsu Australia representatives were very keen to emphasise across the whole of the new range.

Richard Feehely, Komatsu Australia’s national business manager for quarries, explained that emissions standards have been systematically reducing PM and NOx levels since their introduction in 1996.

From Tier 1/Stage I (1996) to Tier 3/Stage IIIA (2006), emissions standards required reductions of 65 per cent in PM emissions and 60 per cent in NOx levels. These rose to levels of 90 per cent in PM and 50 per cent in NOx in the period from Tier 3 to Tier 4 Interim/Stage IIIB (2011). As of 2014 onwards, Tier 4 Final/Stage IV standards have required an additional 90 per cent reduction in NOx, taking PM and NOx emissions to near zero levels. Engines rated between 56 and 130 brake kilowatts (bkW) and engines greater than 560 bkW comply with Tier 4 Final regulations, although some standards differ by power category.

Amber Rickard, Komatsu’s national business manager for construction, provided the emissions standards for PM and NOx levels for the Tier 4 engines on the new Dash 11 excavators compared to Tier 3 engines on the previous Dash 8 excavators. She estimated that NOx levels on Tier 3 engines on the Dash 8s were four grams per kilowatt hour (4g/kWh), compared to just 0.4g/kWh on the Tier 4 Final engines on the Dash 11s. Similarly, the PM levels on the Tier 3 engines on the Dash 8s (0.3g/kWh) had dropped substantially on the Tier 4 engines on the Dash 11s (0.02g/kWh).

Komatsu Australia representatives at the time of the launch also emphasised the relative savings in fuel consumption that the new machines could achieve on their predecessors.

“Komatsu has introduced new electronic control systems throughout the new machines that ensure engine power, hydraulic requirements and transmission output is optimised – resulting in fuel consumption savings of between five per cent and 15 per cent [in tonnes per litre] – depending on models and applications,” Dean Gaedtke, Komatsu Australia’s executive general manager of construction, said.

Komatsu’s range of proprietary technologies that contribute to low emissions and reduced fuel consumption include:

  • A heavy-duty after treatment system.

  • An advanced electronic control system.

  • A heavy-duty cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system.

  • A Komatsu variable geometry turbocharger (KVGT) system.

  • A heavy-duty, high pressure common rail (HPCR) fuel injection system.

“In addition, all Komatsu’s new Tier 4 machines take advantage of the company’s latest developments in its KOMTRAX telematics-based remote monitoring system to deliver owners and fleet managers even more data about key operating criteria,” Gaedtke added.

In answer to follow-up questions after the launch, Gaedtke would not specify the exact average of fuel in tonnes per litre that was being expended in earlier models to arrive at the savings suggested.

The PC490LC-11’s heavy-duty counterweight and undercarriage allows for the use of larger buckets and attachments, and the lifting of heavier loads.
The PC490LC-11’s heavy-duty counterweight and undercarriage allows for the use of larger buckets and attachments, and the lifting of heavier loads.

“Fuel consumption,” he said, “depends on a wide range of factors, including operating conditions, materials, haul road profiles, operator experience and training, and many others. The fuel consumption savings figures quoted by Komatsu are based on testing in typical working conditions.”

In the case of the new Dash 11 excavators and the new Dash 8 wheel loaders (both of which are profiled below), the fuel savings were estimated to be 11 per cent and 15 per cent respectively.

Rickard attributed the fuel efficiency on the Dash 11 excavators in part to Komatsu’s design of all “major components, including engines, pumps, valves, motors and cylinders”.

“The ability to design systems that work together, such as the engine and hydraulics, allows us to optimise machine performance so we maximise production while minimising fuel consumption,” Rickard said.

“Productivity improvements are attributed to increased lift capacities and enhanced power modes that deliver improved performance in hoist and digging operations.

“Improved combustion efficiency, increased cooling ability, reduction in hydraulic losses, larger displacement high efficiency pumps, new engine pump-matching controls and reduced auto-deceleration speeds contribute to reductions in fuel consumption of up to 11 per cent.”

Dash 11 Excavators

The “ultra-low” emission 25-tonne PC240LC-11, 30-tonne PC290LC-11 and 36-tonne PC360LC-11 excavators (the latter which is suitable for applications in small to medium quarries, sand and gravel operations) function at the most efficient speed and save fuel due to a combination of low speed matching, variable speed matching and a reduction in auto-deceleration speed to low idle speed.

“Low speed matching and variable speed matching are engine pump-matching controls that allow the engine to operate at the most efficient speed, contributing to reduced fuel consumption,” Rickard elaborated.

“In the Dash 11 excavators, larger displacement pumps achieve the required pump discharge rate at lower engine speeds than the Dash 8 excavators – this is low speed matching.

“Variable speed matching harmonises engine speed to hydraulic pump delivery for both high and low duty cycles. In Dash 8 excavators, whether pump delivery is large or small, engine speed always remains high. In Dash 11 excavators, when high flow delivery is required (eg during digging or hoisting), the engine speed stays high, but in light-duty applications requiring low flow delivery – such as dumping, down-swing or reverse grading – engine speed is automatically reduced to save fuel.

“Auto-deceleration or auto-idle saves fuel by reducing engine speed when control levers are not activated for four seconds. In Dash 8 excavators, auto-deceleration speed is 1400 revolutions per minute (rpm). In Dash 11 excavators, auto-deceleration speed is reduced to the low idle speed of 1050 rpm.”

The Dash 11 excavators also feature as standard an ‘Economy’ working mode for attachments. This enables the operator to name and set the flows when changing out the attachments.

“Two-way flow attachments can be operated in either the ‘Power’ or ‘Economy’ modes,” Rickard explained. “‘Economy’ mode has the advantage of providing good cycle times but with better fuel economy than ‘Power’ mode.

“Names and flows can be set and stored in the monitor panel for up to 10 attachments. This speeds up and simplifies attachment change-outs as the operator can easily select the attachment by name and do not have to manually reset flows each time they fit a different attachment.”

In addition to making attachment change-outs safer, Komatsu has also sought to improve operator safety with a lock lever auto-lock function that prevents unintentional movement.

“If the operator has accidentally activated a control during start-up, the machine recognises this and automatically applies the hydraulic lock so that no uncontrolled movement occurs,” Rickard said.

“Auto lock will only apply if a hydraulic control is being activated at the same time the hydraulic safety lock is released,” Rickard added, when asked how the excavator software recognises that there is an accidental, rather than deliberate, control activation.

“When activated, it locks out work equipment, swing, travel and attachment operations and a message is displayed on the monitor. It can be cancelled by returning the hydraulic safety lock to the locked position, checking all hydraulic controls are in neutral and then releasing the hydraulic safety lock again.”

The PC290LC-11 is fitted with a longer boom (6.15m) and arm (3.2m) for an extended digging reach of 10.7m, compared to the preceding PC270LC-8. A 30-tonne undercarriage and heavy-duty counterweight provide stability and lift capacity, even with this extended working range. The other Dash 11 models have the same boom and arm lengths as their Dash 8 counterparts.

“Work equipment is built to a rugged design with extensive use of high strength steel castings throughout the boom and arm structures for long-term durability and high resistance to bending and torsional loads,” Rickard said of all the Dash 11 models.

The dual power engine mode on the WA470-8 enables operators to select modes for general loading works or maximum output in tough digging applications.
The dual power engine mode on the WA470-8 enables operators to select modes for general loading works or maximum output in tough digging applications.

In addition to the PC360LC-11, Rickard recommended the 48-tonne PC490LC-11 (which replaces the former 46-tonne PC450LC-8) for a quarrying application, as it combines “versatility and fuel efficiency with exceptional performance and durability”.

“The PC490LC-11 has up to a 13 per cent increase in productivity due to an enhanced power mode and higher pump output as well as a 15 per cent increase in lift capacity due to a larger, reinforced undercarriage and heavy-duty counterweight [of 9.2 tonnes],” she said.

“In addition to the productivity increase, the PC490LC-11 [offers] a 15 per cent increase in fuel efficiency with the enhanced ‘Power’ mode.

“The PC490LC-11 is also the only excavator in this size class with a closed-centre load-sensing system, for better fuel efficiency, improved fine control and simultaneous multiple functions.”

Rickard said the PC490LC-11 comes with a “hydraulically driven variable speed cooling fan that reduces parasitic loss, optimises cooling fan speed based on operating temperatures and simplifies cooler maintenance by allowing operators to reverse the fan through the monitor panel to blow out the coolers”.

She said the PC490LC-11’s heavy-duty counterweight and “more robust undercarriage” allowed for the use of larger buckets [ranging from 1.45m3 to 2.7m3] and attachments, and for the machine to lift heavier loads around sites.

The PC490LC-11 is factory-fitted with quick hitch and dual flow hammer piping. It has a maximum dig depth of 7755mm (with a 3380mm arm option), a bucket breakout force of 24,400 kgf and an arm breakout force of 20,900 kgf.

“In addition, the heavier duty undercarriage provides added durability and improved operator comfort in tough working conditions such as quarries, demolition and heavy construction, and rock-breaking work,” Rickard added.

Production loaders

Komatsu’s Dash 8 wheel loader range was also out in force at BOOTS ON. The launch featured the new general-purpose WA380- 8 and WA470-8 wheel loaders, and the upgraded WA500-8 and WA600-8 production loaders. All four loaders are also fitted with low emission, fuel-efficient Tier 4 engines.

The 19-tonne WA308-8 is powered by a 143kW Komatsu engine and, depending on configuration, takes buckets in the range of 2.7m3 to 4.7m3.

A 203kW Komatsu engine powers the 25-tonne WA470-8, with bucket capacities from 3.8m3 to 4.7m3. It is believed the WA470-8’s fuel consumption is a six per cent improvement on its predecessor – the WA470-7.

The 38-tonne WA500-8 and 55-tonne WA600-8 are powered by respective 264kW and 395kW Komatsu engines, with bucket capacities varying from 6.4m3 through to 7m3.

The WA500-8 is available in two configurations: the regular vehicle and the yard loader (WA500-8YL). The WA500- 8YL is configured for stockpile and sales applications and can work with loose aggregates with bucket capacities up to 7m3, depending on material density.

“The key purpose is to maximise tonnage per pass in order to reduce the number of passes required to load on-highway trucks,” Richard Feehely said of the WA500-8YL. “The standard machine is effective for both face loading and sales loading applications.”

Feehely recommended the WA470-8, the WA500-8 and the WA600-8 for the quarrying application.

He said the dual power engine mode on the WA370-8 and the WA470-8 was suitable for quarrying applications, as it enables the operators to select from ‘Economy’ mode for general loading works (providing fuel efficiency) or ‘Power’ mode for maximum output in tough digging applications.

The SmartLoader Logic engine system on all four machines, which controls engine torque to match machine demands, can also contribute to fuel savings in demanding work cycles.

“Smart Loader Logic monitors the engine speed and load, transmission gear position, accelerator pedal angle, working gradient, position of the bucket/work equipment to maintain optimum gear selection, and engine output in order to maximise productivity and save fuel,” Feehely explained.

“It reduces the clutch engagement shock of the lock-up torque converter, enabling smoother and more efficient travel in load and carry applications, which leads to further fuel savings.”

Feehely said the WA500-8 and WA600-8 loaders’ large capacity torque converters, with lock-up in second to fourth gears, ensure that engine torque is precisely optimised to production tasks.

An automatic kickdown function on the WA500-8 enables the operator to automatically select first gear when digging into a stockpile.
An automatic kickdown function on the WA500-8 enables the operator to automatically select first gear when digging into a stockpile.

He added the vehicles also have been equipped with automatic digging systems that actuate bucket tilt and lift operations by “sensing the pressure applied to the work environment” and assist with alleviating operator fatigue while optimising bucket loads.

Other operator assistance features on the larger Dash 8 loaders include remote bucket and boom positioning systems for fast changeover of attachments or buckets, and automatic kickdown that downshifts to first gear on entering a stockpile.

“Remote positioners enable the operator to set the return to dig position and the upper kick-out limit,” Feehely said of the remote bucket and boom positioning systems. “The ‘return to dig’ feature enables the operator with one press of the boom lever to lower the bucket to a pre-set position in which he can start digging into the stockpile, without having to hold the lever and then let it go when the bucket is at an appropriate height from the ground to start the digging phase.

“The boom kick-out function allows the operator to pull the boom lever back into detent which will begin the lifting cycle. It will stop or ‘kick-out’ at the pre-set position. This enables the operator to focus on other tasks or checking his mirrors/reverse camera, etc, while reversing out of a pile or approaching a truck.”

Feehely explained that the automatic kickdown function on the WA500-8 and WA600-8 loaders enables the operator to automatically select first gear when digging into a stockpile or blasted rock.

“This enables more efficient use of engine torque and provides better bucket penetration into the material,” Feehely said.

“Previously the operator would have to select first gear manually or manually press the kickdown function.”

The WA500-8 and WA600-8 are equipped with joystick steering as standard. This enables all steering and forward/reverse travel to be controlled by wrist and finger control to minimise operator fatigue.

A steering wheel is, however, optional on the WA500-8 for older drivers.

“For many years, our WA500 and WA600 class loaders have been recognised as leaders in their class in quarry and smaller-scale mining applications, whether handling virgin or blasted material in tough face loading work, or in large-scale stockpile tasks requiring large volumes of material to be handled, loaded and blended,” Feehely said.

“These two new generation Dash 8 machines deliver ultra-low emissions, use less fuel, are easier and less tiring to operate, are more productive, and have lower total owning and operating costs.

“And the ability for fleet management personnel to monitor very detailed data on every facet of machine operation through KOMTRAX Plus gives unprecedented control over operating and maintenance costs,” he said.

KOMTRAX Plus, which is available on the WA600-8, provides, according to Feehely, “more detailed cyclic information, including fuel, and production if equipped with the factory payload system. KOMTRAX Plus also provides more detailed maintenance and diagnostic information”.

Remote monitoring

All of the new Tier 4 machines on display at BOOTS ON were equipped with the latest iteration of KOMTRAX, Komatsu’s telematics-based remote monitoring system.

First introduced in 2008, KOMTRAX has been installed on more than 11,000 Komatsu machines at no additional cost to producers across Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia.

All data coming from KOMTRAX is managed through Komatsu’s INSITE Fleet Management Centre at its Fairfield headquarters in Sydney.

As Komatsu’s general manager of construction and utility Charles Wheeldon explained at BOOTS ON, KOMTRAX Step 5, which has been installed on nearly all of Komatsu’s new Tier 4 Final machines, enables machine owners and fleet managers to view detailed data online about every aspect of a machine’s operation, 24 hours per day, seven days per week, via computer, smartphone or tablet.

“For machine managers, knowing important operational details such as idle time and fuel consumption helps maximise machine efficiency, and enables decisions that can improve fleet utilisation,” Wheeldon said.

“It’s the most sophisticated version of KOMTRAX to date, designed to provide equipment managers with data that increases their peace of mind, knowing that the advanced technologies incorporated in today’s equipment are working reliably to deliver operational efficiencies.”

The Step 5 technology is designed to deliver data reporting on the key operational criteria of Tier 4 Final engines, including the Komatsu Diesel Particulates Filter (KDPF) soot count, active KDPF soot removal regeneration time and fuel consumption, KDPF cautions and diesel exhaust fluid levels.

Step 5 also provides enhanced reports on machine travel hours and distances, working modes, cycle times and maximum speeds.

Todd Connolly, Komatsu’s general manager of construction solutions, added that KOMTRAX enables Komatsu and its customers to not only identify potential issues with a machine well in advance of a breakdown but to also improve machine performance, site productivity and even operator skills.

He said the latest Step 5 version can, by identifying individual operators working on given machines, promote collaboration between site/project managers and operators on the improvement of production levels and the development of personal skills.

Connolly said the INSITE Fleet Management Centre has marked a significant investment by Komatsu in information communications technology (ICT) and “significantly changed the way we interact with our customers throughout the [Pacific] region. It allows us to harness the power of our KOMTRAX systems, working in conjunction with other analytical and communications tools, to help increase machine safety, productivity, uptime and availability – and reduce customers’ costs per tonne, no matter where they operate.

“That data, combined with Komatsu’s analytical and predictive capabilities, based on millions of hours of machine data, allows us to work with our customers to help ensure their Komatsu equipment is always working at its optimal best.”

Intelligent machine control

Connolly insisted that remote monitoring, however, is just one element of Komatsu’s telematics capabilities, and that the integrated “intelligent Machine Control” (iMC) concept – part of Komatsu’s SMARTCONSTRUCTION program introduced in the past 18 months – has marked a major step from semi-automation towards full automation of complex earthmoving activities, including digging, excavating, levelling and grading to high levels of precision.

Under iMC, Connolly said that machines such as excavators can excavate, bulk out and trim to high precision 3D designs. It has been factory-integrated into select Komatsu machines such as the PC210LCi-10 and PC360LCi-11 excavators and can also contribute to significant improvements in efficiency and productivity.

“Customers who’ve used this technology are seeing massive benefits from it,” Connolly said, “and we are already seeing multiple repeat orders from contractors and plant hirers throughout Australia.”

SMARTCONSTRUCTION covers important steps in a project’s development, from initial site survey and design through to machine control management, machine interconnectivity and review of project progress during the construction phase, and finally development of detailed as-built information for future construction and infrastructure maintenance. It comprises multiple unmanned aerial vehicle, 3D data, cloud-based (Komconnect) and support services. The support services incorporate iMC advice, remote monitoring (KOMTRAX), remote file transfer and operating training, project integration and site set-up, and trouble-shooting and servicing of machines and control systems. Komatsu claims it has the potential to change the “face” of the earthmoving industry and the way it conducts business.

“It gives our customers a real edge in today’s increasingly competitive and challenging construction and resources environment,” Connolly said.

Gaedtke said that the 25 new models launched at BOOTS ON were not equipped with iMC, and other SMARTCONSTRUCTION concepts, but “this technology is definitely on the horizon for these latest generation Komatsu machines. For example, SMARTCONSTRUCTION can make use of payload data supplied by the payload management systems in our loaders and haul trucks, and we are in the process of rolling out additional iMC models, adding to our existing offerings”.

A further report on the launch of Komatsu Australia’s HM300-5 and HM400-5 articulated dump trucks and HD405-8 and HD605-8 rigid dump trucks at BOOTS ON will appear in the October issue of Quarry.



PC490LC-11 excavator

WA380 wheel loader

WA500 wheel loader

Damian Christie
Editor • Quarry Magazine

Damian Christie is the editor and a chief writer of Quarry magazine. To contact Damian, please click here.
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Friday, 23 August, 2019 8:25am
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