Komatsu graders aim squarely at contractor market

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Updated: May 12, 2014

Komatsu Australia has recently begun incorporating a package of features and benefits as part of its Dash 5 “Vantage” grader offering to make it more attractive to civil contractors.

This package includes upgrading the range’s standard specification to better meet the needs of contractors, and developing “plug and play” kits compatible with leading machine control system suppliers.

According to Phillip Atley, Komatsu Australia’s National Business Manager, Government and Construction, a lot of work has gone into developing the company’s Dash 5 graders for the contractor market.

“We have been partnering with Topcon distributor Position Partners and Trimble distributor Sitech to develop 2D and machine control kits that give simple ‘plug and play’ connectivity to our Dash 5 graders,” he said.

“These kits also allow our graders to be easily upgradeable to full 3D machine control systems, giving machine owners a complete final trim and bulk grading solution.”

Atley said a major factor in the appeal of Komatsu’s graders – and its other lines of construction equipment – is the KOMTRAX remote monitoring system, which gave unmatched asset management capabilities through machine tracking and health monitoring.

KOMTRAX constantly monitors a whole range of machine parameters –including machine location, which makes it an excellent anti-theft system.

“Machine data is uploaded to Komatsu’s and to our customers’ machine management systems. This is proving to be a tremendous aid in preventive maintenance, as well as helping managers keep a close eye on how their equipment is being operated,” said Atley.

In addition, Komatsu has upgraded its already comprehensive standard machine specification, which includes:

  • A reversing camera and colour in-cab monitor
  • Highly ergonomic and comfortable air seat
  • A major improvement to air conditioning performance.

Optional equipment for Komatsu graders now includes:

  • A “grass seed” kit to restrict grass seeds and other debris from entering the engine/cooling compartment in severe applications
  • Cabin pressuriser kit for mining and high-dust applications
  • Auto lube system.

Komatsu’s Dash 5 Vantage series of graders consists of two models, the GD555-5 and the GD655-5.

Key features include the best cab visibility of any grader on the market, increased engine power, and an upgraded version of its unique dual-mode transmission system.

Operating weight of the GD555-5 is 18.1 tonnes, with variable power up to 144 kW (depending on which gear is in use), while the GD655-5 has an operating weight of 18.5 tonnes, and variable power ratings of up to 163 kW.

A hexangular ROPS cab incorporates a patented front Y-shape pillar and rear side pillar to give better visibility in all grader applications.

A cast circular saddle linkage provides an unobstructed view of the blade and front tyres, while a tapered engine hood provides good visibility to the rear of the machine, particularly the rear ripper.

Both graders are powered by Komatsu’s Tier 3-compliant SAA6D107E-1 – the same engine which is used in a number of other Komatsu machines, including WA250PZ-6 to WA380-6 loaders, PC200-8 to PC270-8 excavators and the D51EX-21 dozer.

As with previous generations of Komatsu graders, the Dash 5 Vantage series incorporates a dual transmission system, designed to give operators the choice of direct drive (manual) transmission, as used on conventional graders, or torque converter transmission for improved control at low speeds and in final finishing.

A powershift transmission has been designed and built specifically for Komatsu graders, providing on-the-go, full power shifting as well as inching capability and automatic shifting in higher ranges.

When power for tough grading or low-speed fine control is required, the operator can select the Torque Converter auto (T/C Auto) mode for significantly more tractive effort and control, as well as a new anti-stall function.

Tasmania’s Shaw Contracting takes “contractor package” GD655A-5

Long-standing Tasmanian civil contractor Shaw Contracting Australia took delivery of a Komatsu GD655A-5, incorporating the full package of contractor features and benefits, in late January.

According to Dave Langdon, Shaw’s asset manager, reasons for the purchase included operator preference, the company’s “great run” with its Komatsu excavators, and the price.

“We already have two existing graders of another brand, and when we decided we needed another one, we asked our operators to compare the Komatsu grader with our existing machines, plus another brand,” he said.

“Our most experienced final trim operator said we couldn’t beat the view from the Komatsu grader’s cab, so that’s what we should go for.”

Since starting work with Shaw Contracting Australia, the GD655A-5 has primarily been doing final trim and pavement work, much of it for a carpark construction project at Launceston Airport.

“I’ve got my two most experienced operators – real old-school operators – on that machine. One of them has been a grader operator for 40 years, and he’s in love with that Komatsu,” said Langdon.

“It’s doing the work well, and has very good fuel efficiency compared with our other brand of graders.”

The “plug and play” kit for machine control systems was also a major attraction with the new Komatsu grader.

“We run Topcon systems on our machines, and eventually we will put a full machine control system on this grader – so the ‘plug and play’ feature was an important consideration,” he said.