Since taking delivery of one of Australia's first two Komatsu Hybrid excavators in mid-June, Launceston, Tasmania-based contractor Gradco Pty Ltd has been achieving "outstanding" fuel consumption reductions, according to CEO Oliver Diprose.
Immediately on delivery, Gradco's new HB215 was put to work at the MMG mine at Rosebery, working on the mine's tailing dam embankment, final trim and general earthworks, which is where it will be until early in the new year.
"The machine is impressive; I really can't speak highly enough of it."
A design feature of the Hybrid is that operation is identical to a conventional machine, Oliver said.
"That's meant very good operator acceptance; our operator is off a conventional 20 tonne Komatsu excavator, and he can barely tell the difference in terms of operation and feel.
"As far as I'm concerned, that is great because he doesn't have to learn any special techniques to operate it he just does what he's always done.
"The machine is also very economical using between 10 and 12 litres per hour compared with 16-18 litres on the conventional machine, so that will translate into significant cost savings for us," Oliver said.
In May this year, when the machine was ordered, Oliver said the opportunity to reduce fuel consumption through Komatsu's Hybrid concept presented a compelling reason to opt for a new technology machine.
"Traditionally fuel usage is a high cost item for companies in this industry," he said.
"Any opportunity we could get to reduce fuel consumption and improve our bottom line we saw as a major benefit."
Oliver said that when Gradco had the opportunity to purchase the first Hybrid machine, it didn't take much convincing to make a decision.
"We run a number of Komatsu excavators in our fleet, and saw the Hybrid as a logical advance in excavator technology.
"We have confidence in the brand, we've always had very little downtime with our Komatsu excavators, and that gave us confidence to buy a Hybrid, sight unseen, off a spec sheet," said Oliver.
"Machinery is in our blood; it's been a passion of ours since our grandfather started the company in the 1950s.
"We are always looking for new types of equipment, new ways to do things in our business, so that we have a point of difference to our competition," he said.
"In an industry where there's a lot of companies doing very similar things, any point of difference we can achieve is a big advantage for us.
"The Komatsu Hybrid is going to give the opportunity for Gradco to do our bit for the future, and to keep this industry sustainable for the long term," said Oliver.
"The technology behind the Hybrid is world-class. It's delivering all everything Komatsu promised, and we are very pleased with our decision to buy the machine.
"We've been fortunate to have lots of interest from our clients, and MMG is thrilled to have the machine on their site," he said.