A Queensland contractor is finding its Komatsu D61EXi-23 "intelligent" dozer is resulting in higher production across bulk earthmoving and final trim applications and giving it the opportunity to carry out works it couldn't have handled previously.
Family-owned Nyanda Excavations has specialised in excavation, construction and mining services Australia wide for more than 10 years, owning a range of equipment, including excavators from one to 65 tonnes, skidsteers, dozers, graders, trucks and tippers.
It is a real family operation, with father and son Robin and Nathan Stokes directors and overall management, sister Melanie handling administration, and brothers Trent in the field operating, and Justin looking after survey, machine control and file preparation.
Justin Stokes said that since the machine's purchase in March 2016, he could only describe its performance as "great".
"We have no issues to report whatsoever; it does exactly what it was supposed to do," he said.
"It's being used for a lot of our cut and fill work; the first site it was used on was for a large carpark project in Springfield where it made light work of shaping the construction site.
"It since moved on to housing development site where it has cut and filled over 15,000 cubic meters, and most recently it's shaping a small shopping village and service station on the Gold Coast," said Justin.
Initially the Nyanda team just used the D61EXi-23 for bulk earthworks, but it quickly proved its capabilities beyond that.
"The integrated GPS machine control system has proven to be extremely accurate and we have found ourselves being able to use it for final trim also," he said.
"Overall, we have found the performance to be great. The machine has been more than capable of handling what we have thrown at it so far; it's always exciting taking it to a new site to see what it can do there!"
Nyanda also runs two other pieces of gear fitted with aftermarket machine control, an excavator and grader.
The machine control excavator is used for bulking and trimming, while the grader is typically used for final trimming via total station, with jobs ranging from carparks, sports ovals and roads, to basements, housing developments and the like.
"We have been using machine control systems for coming on two years now in our other machines," Justin said.
"It was a little hit and miss to start with: file format problems, calibration issues, and damage to exposed sensors and cables causing some downtime.
"However, since moving to the D61EXi-23 with its integrated Topcon system, we have found it increases productivity, and has given us the ability to complete jobs we simply couldn't have done before," he said.
"As well, the integrated system requires almost no maintenance and yields consistent results day after day, while being user friendly.
"Having the system built in also means, there's no sensors or wires to worry about accidentally damaging and causing downtime."
Currently the dozer is working along side both grader and excavators, making their job easier.
"In particular, final trim with the grader now is much easier as the Komatsu dozer's machine control system gets it very close to finished level meaning less to trim and quicker to finish.
"And from the operator's point of view, comfort and ease of operation are both good probably better than we expected," he said.
"We keep the same operator on the machine where possible; he has come from a background in using dozers, and rates the Komatsu very highly.
"In fact, the machine is so intelligent that he has had to discard some of his previous teachings on a 'basic' dozer, and adopt the newer more intelligent ways of doing things which yields a better result and causes less wear and strain on the machine," Justin said.
Fuel consumption on the D61EXi-23 is very much in line with what was expected.
"The Komtrax reports supplied monthly help us to understand how the machine is being operated, allowing us to see how we can be improving fuel consumption by using features like economy mode when performing light work, and auto mode when operating with machine control.
"From a management point of view, the machine is efficient and reliable, and as a result it's saving time on site; basically the machine control system has been a simple set-and-forget for us," he said.
"I'm used to constantly having issues arise with other machine control systems, so after working with the Komatsu system it has been a pleasant surprise to find I don't have these issues."
In terms of support and service with the new machine, particularly in the light of its new technology features, has been "second to none" according to Justin.
"We couldn't fault the team at Komatsu; they are professional, knowledgable, and always available to help at a minute's notice. Aaron Marsh (Komatsu Australia's Technology Solution Expert Team Manager, Smart Centre) knows the system inside out.
"If we ever have a problem or question he knows exactly what to do to correct it - he has even gone so far as to help us resolve problems pertaining to other machine control systems that have held us up.
"The guys at Komatsu demand great results from their machines and it's evident they do whatever it takes to make sure we are seeing these great results in the field," said Justin.