Komatsu's new Intelligent Machine Control (iMC) technology provides a solution to one of the major challenges facing the construction industry: the lack of skilled operators at a time when clients are demanding ever-higher levels of precision combined with increased productivity.Currently available across dozer and excavator models, iMC has already shown its ability to deliver significant improvements in efficiency and productivity for Australian contractors compared with conventional construction processes.
Komatsu iMC is designed to let operators focus on moving material efficiently from bulk excavation to final trim without having to worry about over-excavation or damaging the target surface vastly speeding up site earthworks, while delivering greater precision and accuracy.
Currently covering a range of four dozers and one excavator, each model in Komatsu's iMC range incorporates as standard a factory-installed fully integrated 3D GNSS (global navigation Satellite System) machine control system.
Komatsu iMC is part of the company's SmartConstruction concept, which brings together a wide range of technology solutions, including drones and remote site management, to deliver more efficient, productive and cost efficient construction processes.
According to Aaron Marsh, Komatsu Australia's Technology Solution Expert Team Manager, Smart Centre, major industry issues, including skills shortages, demands for increased construction site productivity, finite resources and project management pressures were key factors behind the development of iMC technology.
"At Komatsu, we have a long history of introducing market-leading technology and innovation to the industries we serve," he said.
"Understanding the needs of our customers, we are constantly working towards enhancing and improving their productivity including meeting the challenge of the ever-growing demand for skilled machine operators."
All machines in Komatsu's current iMC line-up covering the PC210LCi-10 excavator, and D61EXi-23, D65EXi-18, D85EXi-18 and D155AXi-8 dozers, share some common features.Automated blade and bucket control, from bulk excavation to final gradesIntegrated factory-installed Komatsu machine control system, with all components highly secure from damage, vandalism and theftMultiple automated dozing modes, with auto grade assist, auto stop control and minimum distance control for the excavator, ensuring jobs are finished faster, more accurately and with minimal reworkConventional "bolt-on" machine control components are replaced with fully integrated factory-installed GNSS antennas, enhanced inertial measuring unit (iMU+) and stroke sensing hydraulic cylinders, ensuring Komatsu reliability, durability and quality.Exclusive cab-top (dozer) and handrail mounted (excavator) GNSS antennas greatly reduce the risk of damage, theft or vandalism associated with conventional blade and counterweight mounted antennas and cables while ensuring greater accuracy through more stable GNSS antenna positioningChassis-mounted enhanced inertial measuring unit (iMU+) measures machine pitch and roll to enable precision work equipment control, even when working on slopes.Robust stroke-sensing hydraulic cylinders use proven sensor technologies for accurate finish grade performance, allowing the iMC system to constantly track the angle and location of the blade or bucket edge.
Marsh said Komatsu's integrated iMC technology delivered a wide range of benefits on construction sites.
"IMC allows contractors to complete bulk dozing and excavation, along with grading and final trim operations faster and to closer tolerances, with fewer passes to achieve finish grades or excavation profiles.
"It also allows far more efficient machine use and less rework just dig or grade it once, then move on," he said.
"In addition, because all 3D design data is held within an iMC machine, we can greatly decrease times required for staking, survey and even final inspection, as well as allowing contractors to complete multiple tasks with one machine."
Other benefits, said Marsh, included lower machine operating costs and whole-of-life costs, better material yields, reduced fuel consumption, and greater machine availability and uptime
"And because an iMC-equipped machine means simple operation for all operators no matter what their experience levels, we get greatly improved operator performance," he said.
"All Komatsu iMC machines are capable of operating on multiple sites with all OEM type UHF or UHF digital base solutions, including network corrections through a network base solution."
Below is a brief outline of the benefits of iMC technology on Komatsu's new excavator and dozer line-up. [NOTE TO EDITORS: more details on each product line are included in the accompanying machine-specific press releases.]
Komatsu's iMC system for dozers allows these machines to carry out both bulk and final trim dozing in fully automatic mode from start to finish, delivering final grade performance and accuracy.
The result is significantly increased productivity and efficiency up to twice as productive as dozers fitted with conventional third party machine control systems according to Australian users and operators while reducing the cost of each metre of material moved. +
The iMC system automatically controls blade elevation and tilt according to target design data using common industry standard design data software and systems so not only can the automatic machine control features be used for finish grading but also for bulk dozing.
This capability is unique to Komatsu intelligent dozers.
Loading of the blade at the start of the cut is controlled through set parameters; during the pass, if the load on the blade increases during bulk dozing operation, the blade is automatically raised to control the load and minimise shoe slip, ensuring efficient dozing at all times.
Once the material level approaches the target design surface, the blade will follow it with millimetre-accuracy for close finish grading.
Four different machine control operating modes allow operators to best match performance to the application, covering cut-and-carry, cutting, spreading and final trim grading.
In addition, construction progress can be checked using an integrated as-built mapping display, which collects surface data by continuously measuring actual elevations as the machine operates.
"Komatsu intelligent dozers deliver unmatched productivity, combined with on-grade accuracy first time every time, from bulk dozing to final trim, for faster dozing speeds, fewer passes, less re-work, increased uptime and higher availability," said Marsh.
Komatsu's iMC PC210LCi-10 excavator enables operators to achieve optimum speed to final grade accuracy with minimal inputs, while eliminating the need for manual grade checking.
Its iMC capabilities ensure every job is on grade first time, minimising rework or over-excavation.
The excavator includes three built-in automated modes to deliver these high levels of excavation accuracy and efficiency. They are:
Auto grade assist: When the operator moves the arm, the boom adjusts the bucket height automatically, tracing the target surface and minimising digging too deep, allowing the operator to perform bulk excavation without worrying about the design surface, and to perform fine digging by operating the arm lever only, with the working range is increased by moving the boom downward.
Auto stop control: During boom or bucket operation, the work equipment automatically stops when the bucket edge reaches the required grade, minimising over-excavation or damage to the design surface.
Minimum distance control: Bucket control automatically selects a point on the bucket closest to the target surface, so even if the machine is not facing a sloped surface at a right angle, it will still follow the target surface, minimising digging below it.
"With iMC on the PC210LCi-10, operators can focus on moving material efficiently, without having to worry about digging too deep or damaging the target surface," said Marsh.
"This delivers over 60% improvement in work efficiency compared with conventional construction processes."
As part of its iMC and SmartConstruction solutions, Komatsu offers integrated autonomous Unmanned aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or "drones" for survey and site management, using EVOX3x precision 3D mapping drones through Skycatch.
"Drone capability enhances Komatsu Australia's total site solution for our customers," said Marsh.
"It is fully integrated with the Skycatch cloud platform, using the EVO3x precision 3D mapping drone, which is the only commercial quadcopter capable of creating 3D point clouds with sub-5cm accuracy without the use of ground control points.
"This technology delivers quick, reliable and accurate survey for all earthmoving, quarry and mining applications, adding value to our integrated iMC operations."
This technology can record current as-built data, plus cut and fill volume reporting, incorporating class leading technologies such as terrain following, for increased accuracy on entire flight plan and improved end results.
"It allows for unprecedented visibility into work site progress," said Marsh.
"In addition to being integrated into our iMC technology offerings, it's also capable of working alongside Komatsu's AHS (autonomous haulage systems)
"This means we are able to offer total end-to-end site planning, management and construction solution for our customers now, tomorrow and in the future," he said.
"Komatsu's innovative intelligent Machine control (iMC) technology solutions are making our customers more productive today... and into the future.
"Adding Komatsu iMC machines and solutions to a fleet is a formula for unmatched productivity improvement," Marsh said.
For more information contact:
Komatsu Australia National Marketing Manager
Phone 1330 566 287