Attendees could then “test drive” equipment, using a model built by WPI that simulated grade control in actual working conditions.
Customers had the opportunity to see and operate Komatsu intelligent Machine Control (iMC) dozers and the PC210LCi-10 excavator — the world's first iMC excavator — during a three-day event at WPI's Austin, Texas, branch. The dozer lineup included models ranging in size from the 21,848-lb. (9,910 kg) D39PXi-23 to the 90,610-lb. (41,100 kg) D155AXi-8.
Komatsu iMC dozers feature fully automatic blade control from rough-cut to finish grade. As they travel around a job site, the dozers measure actual elevations, which provide accurate surface data. The machine-control system senses excess blade load during rough-cut and raises the blade to minimize track slip, as needed, to maintain momentum. It also automatically lowers the blade to push as much material as possible until the grade is reached, maximizing production in all situations.
“Komatsu's intelligent Machine Control technology can significantly increase production and efficiency, and at the same time dramatically reduce operating costs,” said Dan Galor, customer support manager, who along with WPI's technology solutions experts (TSE), was on hand to provide information and answer questions.
“Once a model of a job site is built, it can be uploaded into the iMC system and the grade control can be utilized from rough cut to the finish pass. Conventional aftermarket systems are typically turned on when the operator gets close to grade. The blade is controlled manually until approaching the target grade.
WPI personnel presented information about the GPS technology, and proceeded to the rovers and base stations for a short communication and localization demonstration. Attendees could then “test drive” equipment, using a model built by WPI that simulated grade control in actual working conditions. A complex roadway, a pond, blue top pad sites and a trench for utilities were designed to show the machine's speed and accuracy.
“We wanted customers to experience the full capabilities of the machines so they could see the benefits to their business, as well as address any questions or concerns they had,” said TSE Andrew Lopez. “The system is highly accurate and eliminates the need for grade staking thus reducing surveying costs. Because the technology is factory-integrated, there are no cables or masts like those required with the after-market GPS grading systems. By having the system integrated, there is no need to climb on the machine to mount/remove sensors and wires. This increases jobsite production and safety.”
PC210LCi-10 Limits Overexcavation
Komatsu's PC210LCi-10 was of particular interest to many who wanted to see the excavator's exclusive control function, which goes beyond simple guidance to semi-automatically limit overexcavation and trace a target surface.
As with the dozers, the PC210LCi-10's iMC system improves efficiency and accuracy. When target grade is achieved the machine control will not allow excavation beyond the designed surface. Minimizing overexcavation reduces wasted time and costs associated with removing and replacing material.
“Users will be able to dig a trench to the exact depth, precisely build a pond with all the contours and slopes, or any other aspect of a project faster and without the worry of removing too much material,” said Galor. “A large monitor shows the operator real-time and as-built status. They can set audio guidance alerts with different tones that indicate how close they are to the final grade”
Advanced functions contribute to the excavator's ability to effectively reach target elevation without overexcavating, including auto grade assist. As the operator moves the arm, the boom adjusts the bucket height automatically, tracing the target surface and minimizing digging too deep. This allows the operator to rough-dig without worrying about exceeding the design elevation, as well as fine-dig by operating the arm lever only.
Another new function is auto stop control. During operation, the work equipment stops automatically when the bucket edge reaches the design surface.
The PC210 also has minimum distance control, which automatically selects the point on the bucket closest to the target surface. If the machine is not facing a sloped surface at a right angle, it will still follow the target surface and minimize digging below it
“The feedback we received from this event, as well as from customers who own or have demonstrated an intelligent Machine Control dozer or excavator, has all been very positive,” said Bruce Truesdale, vice president of operations. “Once they see how typical project times can be cut by days, weeks, even months, they clearly understand the benefits and return on investment that iMC machines provide.”