Komatsu has released the first mining dozer to incorporate its fully-integrated intelligent Machine Control (iMC) system, which delivers proven productivity, efficiency and cost-saving benefits, according to the company.
The 72.9-t D375Ai-8 ‘intelligent’ dozer is powered by a US EPA Tier 4 Final emission certified Komatsu SAA6D170E-7 diesel engine rated at 455 kW in forward gears, and 558 kW in reverse. This provides more reversing power for higher productivity, Komatsu says.
According to Michael Hall, Komatsu Australia’s Mining Product Manager, the iMC version of the dozer can carry out both bulk and final trim dozing in fully-automatic mode from start to finish, delivering final grade performance and accuracy.
This may be Komatsu’s first mining machine fitted with iMC, but the concept has been successfully used on the company’s smaller and mid-sized dozers across Australia and New Zealand over the past three years, Hall explained.
“The concept has been shown to significantly increase productivity and efficiency – up to twice as productive as dozers fitted with ‘bolt-on’ third-party machine control systems, according to Australian users and operators – while reducing the cost of each metre of material moved,” he said.
“This will deliver major benefits to mining operations across the board, whether in bulk overburden moving, chasing thin or narrow seams, for mine infrastructure works, for stockpile management, or in rehabilitation projects.”
He added: “Komatsu’s iMC is another step on the path to fully-autonomous dozer operation.”
This technology also offers significant safety benefits in stockpile applications with a remote control-ready option available, according to Hall.
Integrated machine control
The D375Ai-8 intelligent dozer incorporates, as standard, a factory-installed fully integrated Global Navigation Satellite System machine control system.
Hall said: “Because the machine control system is fully integrated, it eliminates the need for coiled cables between machine and blade; the operator or service technicians don’t have to climb up on the machine to remove and replace antennas or masts, and there’s no requirement for daily connections and recalibrations.
“As well, an enhanced sensor package combined with an intelligent logic system provides for high accuracy in a fully-integrated system without the need for traditional blade-mounted sensors – which can be subject to damage, theft or vandalism.”
Komatsu’s iMC system automatically controls blade elevation and tilt according to target design data, using common industry standard design data software and systems, Komatsu said.
“With these machines, not only can the automatic machine control features be used for final grading but also for bulk dozing – a capability which is unique to Komatsu intelligent dozers,” Hall said.
“Loading of the blade at the start of the cut is controlled via set parameters; during the pass, if the load on the blade increases, automatic blade control manages the load and minimises shoe slip, ensuring effective dozing at all times.
“Then, when the material level approaches the target design surface, the machine reverts to fine blade control for close final grading,” he said.
Highly experienced dozer operators have reported that, with this technology, they can be more productive than they have ever been before – placing material faster and with more accuracy than any existing dozer/machine control combination, Hall said.
Dozing progress can be checked using the integrated, as-built, mapping display, which collects surface data by continuously measuring actual elevations as the machine operates. This data is also communicated back to the planning software to enabling monitoring of material movement by planning and management personnel.
Komatsu’s intelligent dozer technology is also readily integrated with its SMARTCONSTRUCTION offering, which combines drone-based survey and site management systems and cloud-based information offerings to design, plan, construct and manage mining, quarrying and construction operations, the company said.
“When Komatsu released our first intelligent dozer, the 20 t D61EXi/PXi-23 construction dozer in 2014, the technology was described as fully scalable to other machines in our dozer range,” Hall said.
“We proved this with the release of three additional iMC dozers in 2016, and now we’ve extended the technology to our mining-sized D375Ai-8.”
The D375A-8 launchpad
The new D375Ai-8 is based on the recently released D375A-8 (pictured), which features a combination of a fuel-efficient low-emission engine, increased reversing power and enhanced chassis and track frame durability to deliver significantly lower operating costs per metre of material moved, according to Komatsu.
It is powered by a Komatsu SAA6D170E-7, Tier 4-compliant diesel engine that reduces emissions compared with previous generation engines and cuts fuel consumption through a heavy-duty exhaust gas recirculation system, a hydraulically-driven radiator cooling fan and Komatsu auto idle stop.
Production efficiency is enhanced through a 20% increase in engine power when in reverse, reducing cycle time in downhill dozing applications. Hall said: “Compared with our previous generation D375A-6, production in downhill dozing is increased by 18%.”
Other features of the new dozer include Komatsu’s automatic transmission with lock-up torque converter for reduced fuel consumption and greater powertrain efficiency, automatic gearshift transmission, improved ride and operator comfort levels, better visibility to the blade and ripper, and maintainability enhancements.
Hall said: “The D375A-8 was a significant advance in dozer technology in terms of improved performance, productivity, operator comfort and ease of maintenance.
“Our new D375Ai-8 intelligent dozer takes that technology to the next level through its integration of machine control and its benefits to all types of dozing operation.”