Earthmoving Accessories, Industry Leaders, Komatsu, Machine Control & Positioning, Safety Technology

Komatsu’s 3D Machine Guidance and Payload system

A Komatsu excavator fitted with a 3DMG-RFK GNSS loading soil into a dump trucl

Komatsu’s PC138 range of excavators, supported by the company’s 3DMG-RFK GNSS Guidance and payload monitoring system, are giving operators access to a new era of technology-driven productivity, which is enhancing performance, safety, and sustainability.

Komatsu has long been a company that prides itself on the technological developments of its machines and Smart Construction offerings.

Komatsu’s roots are embedded in Japan, where more than 100 years ago founder Meitaro Takeuchi moulded the company in his vision, to contribute and enhance his community’s quality of life.

As Scott Berry Komatsu National Business Manager – Construction says, Takeuchi’s commitment to evolving and empowering future generations now translates to Komatsu’s commitment to delivering reliable and “cutting-edge” machinery.

“One of the biggest selling points for our machines is our brand. With our brand we aim to provide the best support, while offering a premium product backed by Japanese quality,” Scott says.

Scott’s enthusiasm for the Komatsu brand has been accentuated by the company’s on-going development in innovative machinery technology.

From Intelligent Machine Control (iMC) to their suite of ‘Smart Construction’ products, Komatsu is constantly upgrading and updating a variety of Information Communication Technology (ICT) features, which aim to maximise the productivity and safety of construction machinery.

Developed in-house, these technologies are designed to work across a variety of machinery classes.

Now Komatsu’s 3D Machine Guidance and Payload system, is opening doors for operators to equip their machinery, such as the PC138US-11 and PC138USLC-11 excavators, with the latest technology offerings.

Operators can create simple flat and sloping designs on the in-cab display. Image: Komatsu

Guidance at your fingertips

With more than 45 models, Komatsu Australia’s variety of excavator models have been developed to suit the needs of operators ranging from the small construction operator to major infrastructure project developers.

One of the key features of the Komatsu’s PC138US-11 and PC138USLC-11 excavator models is their ability to handle a diverse range of operations.

“The PC138US-11 and PC138USLC-11 excavators are some of the best-selling construction excavators in our range because they’re a real utility machine,” Scott says. “We find that a lot of Australian operators are wanting a machine that can pretty much do everything.”

“One of the biggest benefits is the urban swing on both machines, which is what the US stands for. Operators can move the machines closer to walls and get into tight spaces. The shorter undercarriage of the PC138US-11 also boosts the agility and mobility of the machine.”

Both the PC138US-11 and PC138USLC-11 have an identical tail swing radius of 1480 millimetres, allowing the excavators to work in tighter spaces when compared to conventional machinery.

Both machines are powered by Komatsu’s low-emission, Tier 4 Compliant engine, providing 97 horsepower for each machine.

Scott says the engine provides sustainability benefits when compared to conventional engine designs.

“I’m certainly a believer in doing everything that we can to minimise emissions and make the world cleaner and greener. Whether or not our engines are ‘changing the world’, we believe this is the way of the future,” Scott says.

And while the excavators share similar features and capabilities, the biggest difference lies in the undercarriage design between the two models.

Scott says the larger undercarriage on the PC138USLC-11 provides slightly better stability, especially when using larger attachments and implements, therefore increasing the safety of operation, especially when working with hazards such as uneven terrain or heavy loads.

He adds that the decision between having a PC138US-11 or PC138USLC-11 comes down to operator preference.

Playing it smart

As with many of Komatsu’s construction machinery models, these PC138US excavators are compatible with the Smart Construction 3DMG-RFK solution for GPS guidance.

The 3DMG-RFK system allows users to reap the benefits of high-quality GPS guidance on their existing machinery. Operators have access to 3D machine guidance, but also payload management and 3D construction data collection, and at a price never before seen in the Australian market.

Marc Brook, Product Manager Smart Construction at Komatsu, says the 3DMG-RFK can allow conventional machinery to perform digital construction.

“Time is money, and the more time that the excavator can spend performing productive tasks, the better,” Marc says.

He says the 3D machine guidance feature allows operators to dig to 3D design plans accurately and efficiently, by displaying the bucket position compared to the design model on-screen, in their cab, in real time.

“The RFK system uses high-performance sensors and antennas to display the position of the bucket accurately and reliably against the design information. The operator can easily change surface offsets, extend the grade of a design surface, record points, create simple designs, easily change between designs and attachments, and much more,” Marc says.

“It also provides an option to feed as-constructed data directly from the machine into our Smart Construction Dashboard for daily volume and progress reporting.”

Operators can create simple flat and sloping designs themselves on the in-cab display, which can display multiple ‘views’ customised to the operator’s preference.

“The user interface is designed to be user friendly, and operators can become comfortable and productive with it very quickly,” Marc says.

If operators are ever unsure about the operation of the RFK, the Komatsu team is there to help along the way.

“In the case of technical support or to assist with uploading new designs, both managers and our dedicated support team can access the system remotely to keep the machine productive,” Marc says.

One of the RFK’s other marquee features – the payload management system – focuses on the measurable weight of the material being loaded Knowing the weight per bucket load allows an operator to max-load a truck accurately, and has critical implications with regard to road safety and compliance.

“3DMG-RFK increases general safety by ensuring that trucks are not overloaded with material first and foremost. It also ensures that the target load capacities are being met, increasing material haulage productivity, and reducing fuel costs and emissions output to achieve the maximum efficiency out of each truck cycle,” Marc says.

This payload information can be automatically reported to a cloud-based server and used to reference load rates over a project.

Fit for the future

The 3DMG-RFK solution can be fitted on all machines ranging from 13-tonne to 50-tonne.

“The 3DMG-RFK system can be fit to a variety of machine sizes, makes and models, including older machines, for 3D machine guidance” Marc says.

“The payload part of the system is machine specific, and we are constantly looking to add more machines to our payload management supported list.”

“The 3DMG system can be fitted at our factory prior to the handover of the machine, or alternatively it can be installed on site in the case of existing operational equipment.”

Marc adds that Komatsu is excited and looking to embrace the future, with plans already in place to further develop the technological capabilities of the 3DMG-RFK system, along with machinery such as the PC138US-11 and PC138USLC-11 excavators.

“We are constantly working to develop the RFK product based on our customer’s needs,” Marc says. “From a hardware perspective we will be looking to support more makes and models of machines in the future.

“From a software perspective, we are constantly engaging with our customers on features to improve their workflows, and our customers will continue to receive these feature updates as they become available.”


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