With its new D39i-24, Komatsu is putting its Intelligent Machine Control system in a 105-horsepower machine. It is the smallest intelligent machine in the company’s dozer line up.
The D39i-24 is equipped with iMC 2.0, a GNSS-based system that allows users to program 3D design data directly into the machine. This data helps guide automatic dozing from rough cut to finish grade. Compared to aftermarket machine control systems, Komatsu says the iMC 2.0 “makes every pass count for superior construction.”
KomatsuOperators can quickly turn the iMC 2.0 features on or off using a side switch on the right joystick. Two antennas on the cab roof support multiple GNSS. Once the satellite capture rate is improved, the machine can be used in any time zone, Komatsu says.
New intelligent features on the machine include:
Proactive dozing control — The dozer measures the terrain it tracks over and uses that data to plan the next pass. This maximizes the blade load throughout the pass regardless of the terrain ahead. Compared to the previous generation D39, operators can see productivity improve by up to 60%, according to Komatsu.
Fatigue reduction in rough dozing — The tilt steering control automatically tilts the blade under a heavy load to maintain straight travel during rough dozing. Komatsu says this feature can reduce operator steering input by 80%.
Repeated, consistent lifts — Controlled by a button press, lift layer control puts in repeated consistent lifts using the mapped terrain as its reference point. This precise layering eliminates excess fill by automatically controlling the blade to follow the finished surface once lifts have reached finish grade.
Quick surface creation — This feature allows operators to create a temporary design with a button press. Combined with other iMC 2.0 features, crews can begin stripping or spreading using automated input while waiting for the finish grade model.
“Excavators Have Become Toolcarriers” as Users Demand Greater Versatility
Most changes to current excavators appear relatively small. But the net effect of those many changes has resulted in a crop of dramatically improved models.
The changes have also expanded the tasks excavators are now doing.
“We are long past the day when there was just a bucket on the end of a stick,” says Jonathan Tolomeo, Komatsu excavator product manager. “Excavators have become toolcarriers.”
That versatility is further increased by the tiltrotator, a device that is catching on in the U.S. Experts we talked to say the attachment, which enables 360-degree rotation and side-to-side tilt, speeds up production.
Justin Steger, Deere solutions marketing manager for site development and underground, adds that tiltrotators also increase efficiency in confined spaces and can save 15% to 30% in time across all applications.
“They offer the same appeal as do zero- and reduced-tailswing machines, but at the other end of the excavator,” Steger says. “And there’s no need to decouple the bucket to reverse it for tricky digging situations.”
Here’s a closer look at what’s new with excavators:
Luke Hill, excavator product specialist at Bobcat, says the company’s two large excavators, the E145 and E165, have four power modes. In addition to Standard and Economy, there are Power and Power +.
Power mode provides ample power to work circuits while also preserving higher travel speeds. Power+ delivers maximum power to the work circuits for faster loading and peak digging performance in hard ground.
BobcatThe two models also have four work modes: Breaker (one-way auxiliary flow), Shear (two-way flow), Lifting, and Digging. While in Digging mode, operators can engage Smart Power Control. SPC matches engine rpm, engine response and hydraulic output to the load to improve efficiency; SPC is available in any of the four power modes.
“In the last four or five years, we’ve seen huge growth in specialty applications,” says Bart DeHaven, excavator sales, Kato-CES. He sees two key factors driving this growth. First, lots of employees at construction firms are leaving to start their own companies, many of them in narrowly focused markets. Second, many smaller contractors are branching out, such as the plumber who now also does site prep.
“We understand these shifts,” says DeHaven. “We’re a small, family-owned company in business since 1994, and we relate to and support entrepreneurship.”
All three models of Kato’s large excavators come with dual auxiliary hydraulics, adding flexibility. The two largest come standard with full electronics, including monitor with two cameras and telematics, three digging modes and auto-idle. The cabs have heating and air conditioning and six-way adjustable seating. The excavators are also equipped with a pattern change valve and an on-board pump to facilitate refueling.
KatoTolomeo and Andrew Earing, who is also an excavator product manager at Komatsu, say the company’s recently unveiled intelligent Machine Control 2.0 expands the adaptability of its excavators.
“Multifunction-control joysticks with programmable proportional thumbwheel controls have five features available on each joystick,” says Earing.
Tolomeo and Earing point out two key features of iMC 2.0. One is bucket angle hold, which maintains the bucket angle throughout the grading pass. “With this feature, the operator need only manage arm-in input,” says Earing.
The other key feature is auto-tilt bucket controls. Models with iMC 2.0 work with any bucket manufactured with a tilt feature. This requires field installation of sensors on the bucket so the system has data to work from. “The system allows the machine to match the design surface via machine control, increasing versatility and reducing the need to reposition the excavator throughout the day,” says Tolomeo.
CatCat’s Next Gen machines have electrohydraulics instead of pilot valve controls. While EH controls benefit the operator, that’s just the beginning.
“The new design allows concentration of the hydraulic system near the center of the machine,” says Stellbrink. This makes the system more responsive and reduces parasitic and frictional losses for improved performance.
With the Case SiteControl 2D/3D semi-automatic excavation system, the operator can select automatic control of the boom, bucket, tilt or rotate or any combination of these. Machine control is fast and efficient at digging to grade; it also minimizes over-excavation (undercutting).
Nathaniel Waldschmidt, product manager, Case Construction Equipment, says it’s especially important to reduce undercutting on a site with stability requirements. “Replacing material back to spec requires a lot of extra time and effort. Case SiteControl helps avoid that.”
MecalacPeter Bigwood, general manager, Mecalac North America, says, “Our dealers tell us the trend is toward wheeled models. Wheeled excavators offer so many advantages in terms of positioning, maneuverability and roading that they are now the preferred machines for many applications.”
Mecalac’s wheeled models have a three-position dial offering Parking, Operational and Over-the-Road settings. Each setting changes a wide range of operating parameters.
Selecting the Parking position sets the parking brake, puts the transmission in neutral, sets the engine at idle, puts the display in economy mode, locks the oscillating axle and deactivates the throttle pedal. Operational mode reduces travel speed while allowing full engine speed and biasing hydraulics toward digging. Over-the-Road biases hydraulic toward travel, renders the boom, stick and stabilizers inoperative, changes the display to travel speed, deactivates the travel alarm, disables the auto-idle function, turns on the rotating beacon and enables the brake lights.
The same design philosophy Mecalac uses in its smaller excavators carries over to its 15MC crawler excavator and 15MWR wheeled excavator, including the company’s two-piece boom.
“Visibility is also emphasized,” says Bigwood, “especially to the rear where other excavators have tall engine compartments or large counterweights obstructing the operator’s view.”
Undercarriage costs are one of the top costs related to excavators, “but they’re also the least glamorous topic,” says Brian Stellbrink, Cat senior market professional. Undercarriages are the most mature system on an excavator, and “most of what’s been used in the past is carried forward because it works.”
Examples include sealed track, easy access to tension adjusters, and track roller and frame designs that shed debris and make cleanout easy and effective. Likewise, operators continue doing what they’ve always done, including a daily walk-around, maintaining proper track tension and cleaning out the undercarriage at the end of each day.
Cat has improved bearing contact areas on upper (carrier) rollers and select bottom rollers. It offers track that is narrower but thicker for use in rock. This narrow-but-thick track provides good wear characteristics and service life with minimal twisting force on the track.
DoosanFuel consumption is the other big cost, and OEMs continue to improve fuel efficiency, although “it’s mostly small gains now,” says Aaron Kleingartner, dealer and product marketing manager, Doosan Infracore North America.
Idle time has been associated only with wasted fuel, but it also represents wasted hours in both equipment life and warranty coverage. Low temperatures during idle can jeopardize the performance of exhaust aftertreatment systems.
As the market moves toward hybrid and electric machines, Kleingartner advises owners to keep in mind that all machines have energy costs, whether in gallons of diesel fuel or kilowatt-hours of electricity.
Komatsu“When it comes to idle time, how long is too long is highly dependent on the application,” says Mark Wagner, manager, services business, Hitachi Construction and Mining. “Idle time itself isn’t necessarily bad, but excessive idling is.”
Wagner says excavators may be productive while idling when setting structures and holding them in place. While these processes may entail several minutes of idling, Wagner says that excavators in production applications should see no more than 30 seconds of idle time between trucks.
“Most mass earthmoving or quarrying applications work on a 50-minute productive hour, which means about 17% non-productive idling time. If data from telematics, such as Hitachi’s ZXLink, show 30% or more idle time, the contractor should consider adding another truck to increase productivity and reduce idle time.”
HitachiResidual value is a big factor in life cycle costs, but “owners of large excavators tend to keep them for the life of the machine,” says Chris Lucas, excavator product manager, JCB, “so residual value is not a key consideration.”
Even so, JCB does things that protect residual value such as having a 100% steel body and double-skinning the doors and engine compartment. JCB tests main components to ensure at least 10,000 hours of useful life.
Customers can take steps to preserve residual value by staying current on preventive maintenance and repair and keeping good service records. “Telematics, such as JCB’s LiveLink, work well for record keeping,” says Lucas.
JCBAnother way to protect residual value is to configure the excavator in its final form from the factory, says Waldschmidt. “For example, equipment that comes with machine control solutions such as Case SiteControl installed by the OEM and purpose-fit for that machine will hold greater value in the secondary market.”
Tiltrotators swarm the market
Tiltrotators have become popular, due in part to the desire to get more versatility out of excavators. Dan Collins, product marketing manager, Kobelco, cites some considerations.
With the bucket positioned straight, as it would be without the tiltrotator, differences in bucket breakout force, arm-in force and bucket curl are negligible. “This all changes when the bucket is operated at an angle or when working with a wide cleanout bucket.” This shouldn’t matter as long as the excavator is not already working at 99% capacity before the installation of the tiltrotator.
Collins says tiltrotators are useful in most applications. “The one exception is heavy production and loading.” Sloping, trenching, fine grading, and working around things all lend themselves to tiltrotator use. He recommends three buckets as a minimum: trench, pipe (narrow) and grading (wide).
KobelcoTodd Cannegieter, product manager for attachments and special applications, Volvo CE North America, offers tips for first-time users of tiltrotators. “You might feel daunted at first, but a little practice will quickly raise your proficiency.”
He advises pairing the tiltrotator with compatible attachments, such as Volvo’s tiltrotator grading bucket, which has a special shape to keep the corners of the bucket from contacting the working surface through the many positions of the tiltrotator. “Remember you have more grease zerks than before, and they aren’t likely to be hooked up to an auto-greasing system.”
Cannegieter says it may take some research to determine whether a tiltrotator is compatible with the machine control system on your excavator. Volvo is rolling out its SmartConnect feature to help ensure compatibility of tiltrotators from all major manufacturers with Volvo’s Dig Assist system.
As for installation, Deere’s Steger says that’s best left to the dealership. Make sure the tiltrotator matches the hydraulic specs of the excavator and be mindful of the extra weight a tiltrotator adds to the front of the machine.
“You’re tapping into the machine’s electrical and hydraulic systems,” Steger says, “and that takes specific knowledge and skill to do successfully.”
Contractor Gets 10 Months in Jail After Worker’s Trench Collapse Death
A Colorado contractor has been sentenced to 10 months in jail after one of his workers died in a trench collapse in 2018.
Bryan D. Johnson, president of residential and commercial general contractor ContractOne of Avon, pleaded guilty in June to two counts of reckless endangerment and one count of third degree assault. His sentence, handed down July 15, also includes three years of probation, up to $25,000 in restitution to the worker’s family, donations to local charities and safety training. He also has to participate in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Workers Memorial Day Ceremony and allow the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration to inspect his worksites without an administrative warrant. He also must not commit any future serious or willful OSHA violations.
Rosario “Chayo” Martínez, 50, was working in an 8-foot-deep trench June 14, 2018, attaching a copper water pipe to a main line when the trench collapsed and buried him, according to OSHA. Martinez’s son was also working on the site and helped to dig his father out. Martinez died later at the hospital.
The trench had previously collapsed the day before the incident, “but Johnson ignored obvious signs to change his procedures,” OSHA says.
Martinez had not been trained in trenching, according to OSHA. He was hired to install drywall and for carpentry work.
OSHA later cited ContractOne with one willful violation – OSHA’s most severe penalty – for not having a protective system to prevent cave-in, as well as 12 serious violations and one other violation. The serious violations included no worker hard hat or eye or face protection, no ladder or other means to exit the trench, working in a trench with accumulated water, materials and equipment closer than 2 feet from the edge of the trench, and the trench had not been inspected by a competent person before workers entered.
OSHA fined ContractOne $57,463 on December 6, 2018. The contractor contested the penalty, which was later reduced to $40,000.
According to a former GoFundMe page set up for Martínez, he was a husband and father.
“He was kind, funny, smart, hard-working and the sole provider for his family that lives in Mexico,” the fundraising page said. “We will miss him tremendously but will try to find solace in the knowledge that his spirit will remain long after his passing.”
Martinez’s family had not wanted Johnson to face criminal prosecution or get jail time, according to a report of the hearing by Sky-Hi News. Johnson has assisted the family financially after the death and was a close friend of Martinez’s, the newspaper reported.
Johnson was quoted by Sky-Hi News during the hearing as saying, “I understand now the accident was completely avoidable and it was my responsibility to see that it was avoided. There will never be a day that I don’t think about all the different ways that day should have gone.”
OSHA said criminal enforcement is an effective tool in combating trench collapses, which are avoidable if proper safety measures are taken.
“Safety and health is paramount and takes precedence over production or profits,” said U.S. Department of Labor Regional Solicitor John Rainwater, in Denver. “The department believes the facts of this case warrant the sentence, and we support the District Attorney’s efforts to hold Johnson accountable for failing to protect workers under his care and supervision. Incarceration sends a strong message. We believe that prosecuting criminal cases has the ability to change the industry.”
OSHA’s inspection report was used by the district attorney’s office in deciding to prosecute the case. Johnson showed “particularly egregious behavior” before the incident, said OSHA Acting Regional Administrator Nancy Hauter, in Denver. “Trenching is one of the most dangerous activities in the construction industry and Bryan Johnson failed to take any affirmative steps to protect employees, despite repeated warnings that work activities at the jobsite were hazardous.”
Add On When Needed: Panasonic 2-in-1 Toughbook G2 Built for the Future
Panasonic continues its year of Toughbook introductions, this time with an eye toward users who not only want the option of a keyboard but also future-proof technology.
A keyboard is only the first of the options on the G2 fully rugged 2-in-1 detachable tablet. There are several add-ons — expansion packs or what Panasonic calls xPaks — that give the unit functions such as a serial port, thermal camera, barcode reader and a quick-release SSD hard drive. Owners can add this functionality in three modular expansion areas whenever needed since the xPaks are user installed and removed.
Panasonic“No other table has this modular expansion pack approach,” Anthony Mungiello, Toughbook senior product manager, tells Equipment World. “You can get a total of 36 combinations between the three expansion areas. This gives people flexibility, helps future proof the G2, and they can add any of these xPaks at any time.” Contractors can also share xPaks among several users.
The G2’s 10.1-inch display is available with Windows 10 Pro; the unit has an 18.5-hour battery life. It also has three programmable buttons to quickly access commonly used applications or shortcuts. Working in landscape mode, one of the programmable buttons is located on the right-hand side of the tablet, making it easy to use as a camera or scanner.
“If you have a barcode scanner, for example, you can program one of your buttons to immediately go to the scanner,” Mungiello says.
And all of this comes with the baked-in ruggedness Panasonic has spent the past 25 years developing in its Toughbooks. In part because of this legacy, the company is making the G2 backward compatible with docking stations on the Toughbook 20, which came out in 2015, and the Toughbook G1, which came out in 2013.
“We know there are thousands of devices out there that are mounted in work vehicles, and being able to reuse those docking stations is a huge cost savings,” says Alex Nollmann, Panasonic’s director of public sector.
The G2’s heat management should be of particular interest to contractors, Nollmann says. “It can easily be in direct sunlight on a hot day. The device handles extreme heat.” Panasonic’s use of thermal piping keeps the processor from overheating and does not impact the integrity of the unit, he says.
Contractors might also be attracted to the G2’s screen brightness – or lack thereof. “We’ve been known for years for having extremely bright screens, but it’s also becoming more important to have dim screens as crews work at night,” Nollmann says. “You don’t want a 1,000-nit screen affecting their night vision on the side of the road.”
The G2 can go down to 2 nits, which almost appears as a black screen except in a complete blackout environment. More important, it has a night vision mode that turns the screen a red hue, taking out the whites and blues, enabling users to look at the screen and then at the surrounding environment without losing night vision. Users can activate this feature manually or have it come on automatically as it senses ambient light.
Nollmann also says the G2’s speakers are four times louder than previous models, making it easier to hear on noisy construction sites.
With the 2-in-1 design, the G2 can be used as a tablet or laptop. It uses Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 and has 16 GB to 32 GB of memory. The 2.9-pound basic tablet starts at $2,999, with xPaks and keyboard sold separately. The keyboard adds another 2 pounds.
“Dual SIM (physical and eSIM) is actually innovative in the rugged space,” Mungiello says. Using eSIM, users can easily install SIMs on multiple units, and they don’t have to worry about the SIM card coming loose in a vibration-intense environment.
Government pledges another £81m for cycle lanes
Plans move forward for £150m Welsh rail centre
Go-ahead given for £100m Holocaust Memorial
Used Equipment Prices Are Strong Right Now. Here’s Why.
How to Get a Gold Supervisory CSCS Card
‘We need to fix social care’
Tech5 months ago
Used Equipment Prices Are Strong Right Now. Here’s Why.
Business8 months ago
How to Get a Gold Supervisory CSCS Card
Business5 months ago
‘We need to fix social care’
Business2 years ago
How To Renovate a Victorian House
Business1 year ago
How Can I Make the Best Use of my Time at Home?
Construction Law5 months ago
Slip & Slide: two lessons from adjudication
Construction Law5 months ago
Change at the top for the TCC
Construction Law5 months ago
Does Highways England really have no duty of care to motorists?