Heavy Equipment Guide Logo

Discover how Komatsu’s new dozing logic moves machine control beyond finish grading into rough dozing

Komatsu's D61PXi-24.
Komatsu's D61PXi-24.

Company info

1701 W. Golf Road
Rolling Meadows, IL
US, 60048

Website:
komatsuamerica.com

Read more

Machine control has been around for some time and many contractors have benefited from the advantages these tools have provided. However, in the last few years dramatic functional developments have improved the way many contractors move dirt, adding efficiency and precision where there used to be judgment calls and plenty of boots on the ground measurements.

When it comes to technology, there are always ways to improve and plenty of efforts to find those improvements. With Komatsu's most recent addition to the machine control landscape, the machine itself - in this case, the D51EXi-24, D51PXi-24, D61EXi-24 and D61PXi-24 dozers - gathers its own knowledge about its surroundings to make the job easier for operators and more precise for owners.

The new proactive dozing logic, part of Komatsu's Intelligent Machine Control initiative, allows the machine itself to gauge the surrounding ground, determine what has been done on the area being graded, and use that information to make its own decision on what action is needed to meet the planned grade without limiting the operator's ability to use his skill. 

"As the machine is moving, it is recording terrain data and generating a surface based on that, giving the system real-time conditions describing what the terrain around the machine looks like. Now, the system can make calculated decisions - whether it needs to cut and carry material, whether it has to spread or fill that material, or whether they're doing finish grading," said Derek Morris, Komatsu product marketing manager for Intelligent Machine Control and Smart Construction. "By continuously learning the terrain this new logic makes for highly efficient dozing beyond finish grade."

Shaping and finish grading difficult
Prior to the advent of grade control for machines such as dozers, trying to shape and finish grade with dozers was an exercise in precision that required grade stakes, surveyors and expert operators who could run their machine by touch, Morris noted.

"He would load up his blade and then would listen to the draw on the engine, monitoring the travel speed corresponding to whatever gear he was in. He would get the feeling when that blade load would hit its maximum before the tracks would start slipping, and he would pick up and carry the cutting edge tight to the ground so he wouldn't lose material off the blade," Morris said. "That's exactly what proactive dozing logic is doing - making a calculated decision with respect to the existing terrain in front of the machine, allowing the dozer to carry the material to the end of the pass."

Those expert operators know how to move their machines from cutting to filling - they know where the material needs to go, said Michael Salyers, senior product manager for Intelligent Machine Control and Smart Construction with Komatsu. "You want to be able to move material in such a manner to get the right compaction wherever you're going to put hard material like asphalt, pavement and concrete. So, you want to try and spread consistent layers, cut consistent layers and do it as efficiently as possible."

The new dozing logic studies the ground under and around the machine as it works, just like an expert operator might, and takes that information into account the next time it passes across that particular piece of the jobsite. With that knowledge, it can adjust the blade to precisely cut or fill depending on the needs of the location.

It's a significant step forward from today's version of machine control, Salyers said. 

"Machine control in the past has just been an add-on to the machine - you bolted it on and used the system to just drive the blade. Everything was really just blade reaction," he said. "When this system becomes part of the machine, now it can gather data, supply it to the system and then be able to compute more information about what is happening on the ground. We now have the capability of understanding what the actual terrain is like."

The machines are designed with an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) on the body, along with a GNSS antenna located on the cab. Those two sensors work together to help understand exactly where the tracks are on the ground, Salyers described. 

"If we know where the tracks are on the ground, we are able to determine not just horizontal location but also vertical location, and we can generate a profile of whatever we just tracked," he said. 

"The machine can store that information, and then whenever it gets ready to go back over that area to cut or work it more, it knows exactly what it was like before when it tracked over it - therefore, it's able to follow the existing terrain, or the terrain that was just created."

Integration aids in advances
Advances in integration of machine control and systems on the dozers themselves have helped Komatsu push these capabilities forward, Morris pointed out. 

"Because of this true integration, the machine control system is talking with the tractor's hydraulic controllers, engine controllers and the machine control controller. Really, the majority of the components are the same as they were in 2013 - the logic and intelligence in our Komatsu controllers is the real advancement we're providing," he said. 

The combination means that operators are no longer tied directly to design documents programmed into their machine control system, which previously limited the amount of assistance they could use when the situation on the ground changed.

"Operators have had to compensate for the limitations of the existing machine control technology and doze manually the majority of the time," Salyers said. "They had to do what they do best - read the terrain, understand the drainage, recognize where the cuts and fills are and take everything down to a point where they could utilize the technology. Because of this true integration, the operator is now able to truly use the technology from beginning to end."

There's little change to be seen for the operators themselves, Salyers noted; they will continue to run the machine, read the jobsite and move material as the jobsite needs. The dozing logic system will pick up on the terrain and help with blade movement to efficiently take off and place material as required. 

For example, if an operator is dozing a wide section of a jobsite in multiple passes set side by side, the machine can provide unique assistance in the process. 

Once a first pass is made, there is enough information available to bring that assistance into play.

"When the operator moves to that next blade width, he'd normally have to do all the same input as the first. With this logic, when he tracks back and moves over to the next cut, the machine will follow what he did in that first pass - it means a lot less input, a lot less manipulation of the blade, a lot less work that he has to do," Salyers said. "It learns what he wants the machine to do, and then it starts to do that."

The system also helps with finish grading, bringing precision to the table while handling things like slopes and transitions to assist the operator in protecting the surface from gouging and other issues.

"The proactiveness of the system can look out in front of itself and recognize it has a transition coming up; when the centre of gravity of the machine hits that transition, it boosts hydraulic performance to limit the blade gouging into the finished surface," Morris said.

More efficient dozing
Using proactive dozing logic as part of any job is a way to make work more efficient in the long run while improving production. 

"Previously, typical machine control systems were only utilized 10 to 20 percent of the time. Typically in finish grade applications most companies can rationalize and justify their return on investment from that 10 or 20 percent. Imagine if you could use it 100 percent - think about how much quicker the return on investment is and how much more dividend that will pay," Salyers said. 

"We're selling a consistent, high-production proactive machine control system, and we're reducing wear and tear on the machine," he added. "The machine is intelligent enough that if you're in a high-production dozing situation you are going to minimize track slip greatly. Fifty percent of the ownership cost of a dozer is the undercarriage. We're going to greatly reduce that ownership cost."

Since its introduction on the D51 and D61 dozers - two of Komatsu's most popular models - the dozing logic technology has proven itself popular and this is a further improvement on that logic, though some operators were skeptical at first, Salyers noted.

"When they get in the seat and start to use it, the reception has been just tremendous - they start to visualize the possibilities of what they can do and understand that this is actually helping them be a better operator, even the experienced ones," he said. 

More from Earthmoving

Watch JCB's first electric compact excavator do the bottle cap challenge

The bottle cap challenge is the latest internet sensation and involves performing a precise roundhouse kick to spin the cap off a bottle without knocking the bottle over. It was started by Farabi Davletchin, a Kazakh Taekwondo champion, who then challenged action stars such as Jason Statham to give it a go – and now all the kids are doing it. Not to be left out of the silliness, JCB has gotten in on the fun with its first electric compact excavator performing the stunt.

Cat marks 30,000 rollers with special-edition utility compactor award

Caterpillar Inc. recently celebrated 30 years of small vibratory roller manufacturing and surpassed the 30,000th roller production mark. To commemorate the milestone achievement, Caterpillar held a sweepstakes in the United States to give away a special-edition Cat CB24B roller. Thousands of contractors entered the Feelin' Lucky sweepstakes held from February 4 through April 15, 2019.

Earthmoving business booming at bauma

Volvo EC200E Excavator
The EC200E crawler excavator gives a new choice for contractors and rental companies who want Volvo quality with exceptional value in light to medium applications.

Liugong North America introduces new high production wheel loader

LiuGong North America (LGNA) has introduced its new 877H wheel loader, a high production machine, to fill the gap between its 856H and 890H wheel loaders. The new machine has a Cummins QSL9 engine, generating 331 HP. With an operating weight just over 54,000 pounds and a bucket size of 5.5 cubic yards, the 877H is positioned to fill the needs of the most common "rock and dirt" bucket applications, including in the aggregate industry. The 877H transmission and axles are manufactured in Germany, then imported to factories in China for assembly. 

free-paper-airplane

Get our newsletter

Learn more

John Deere's latest dozer boasts larger engine, increased weight and new operator station

Designed to meet the demanding needs of today's earth movers, the new John Deere 850L Dozer boasts the productivity, reliability and durability customers expect in a production dozer. A few of the customer-inspired updates include a larger displacement engine, increased operating weight, new operator station, and several improvements to maximize reliability and durability.

Cat M Series wheel loader updates include lower operating costs and improved operator comfort

2019 updates for Cat M Series Medium Wheel Loaders (950M – 982M) include technology advances that provide: lower operating costs via extended service intervals; enhanced operator comfort with new seats and suspensions; added machine configurations; expanded productivity measurement tools; remote software update capability; and more.

Volvo launches Haul Assist with on-board weighing in North America to optimize hauler loads

Volvo Construction Equipment continues to add to its portfolio of productivity services with the North American launch of Haul Assist, a system that shows how much material an articulated hauler has moved, providing operators data and real-time insights to help achieve optimal payloads and improve productivity. Haul Assist comes standard on Volvo's A35G through A60H haulers and is optional on the A25G and A30G models.

John Deere expands offering of grade guidance technology to 56-ton excavator

Power and precision converge with the new grade-guidance-technology equipped John Deere 470G LC excavators. First introduced for the 210G LC and 350G LC excavators, John Deere developed this solution in cooperation with Topcon Positioning Group. The integrated grade guidance system provides the operator with the bucket's location in relation to a 2D reference or 3D design surface. This information arms operators with the detail they need for precision excavation projects, such as digging trenches for pipes, shaping ditches or slopes or digging structure foundations. 

Volvo's Load Assist, Dig Assist now standard on select excavators and wheel loaders

Volvo Construction Equipment continues to unlock the full productivity potential of its excavator and wheel loader lineup with its basic package of Dig Assist – Dig Assist Start – now standard on new EC220E to EC480E excavator models, and its Load Assist system now standard on new L150H to L260H wheel loader models.

free-magazine-subscription

Get Our Magazine

Paper or Digital delivered monthly to you

Subscribe or Renew Learn more

Kobelco introduces next generation excavators

KOBELCO Construction Machinery has  introduced the enhanced SK75SR-7 and SK85CS-7 excavator models in North America. This next generation of KOBELCO SR Series of mid-size machines, offer short rear swing capabilities and a range of new features.

United Rentals Helps Contractors Advance Trench Safety Through Training

Trench and excavation work represent some of the most dangerous jobs in the construction industry. Maintaining up-to-date training on safety regulations and equipment solutions is essential to not only keeping employees safe but also leads to improved project productivity. United Rentals, is providing dedicated resources to the construction industry that offer quality trench safety instruction, together with assistance outside the classroom including jobsite consultation, engineered designs and safety equipment.

Hydrema ready to raise standards for safety with new dump truck

Hydrema is ready to set new safety standards for working with small dump trucks. In its 60th year, the Danish construction equipment manufacturer will launch a new dump truck that breaks with old traditions by offering a brand new design in the 6-9 t sector. This new machine has been made to comply, in particular, with UK safety regulations concerning site dumpers.

John Deere’s new L-Series make it easier for operators to do more, more comfortably

John Deere's new L-Series utility wheel loaders – the 524L, 544L and 624L – were designed with the operator in mind and incorporate several new features, including improved cabs for more comfort and visibility, electro-hydraulic (EH) loader controls for easier operation, redesigned near-parallel linkage, and enhanced-performance buckets.

free-paper-airplane

Get our newsletter

Learn more

CASE N Series Backhoes

CASE has made numerous updates to its N Series backhoe loaders, including new industry-exclusive PowerBoost functionality, a new PowerDrive transmission upgrade with Direct Drive, and a factory-installed thumb that makes backhoe operation more versatile. New CASE N Series backhoes also feature updates to loader controls, including a new declutch trigger, new roller/rocker switch for better attachment control, and an all-new F-N-R thumb switch for simplified operation. A standout feature is PowerBoost, which provides the operator with a momentary boost of increased hydraulic power without decreasing engine RPM (so as not to affect speed/cycle times) —ideal for digging through tough conditions, including hard clay, rock and frost.

Trimble-ready factory option introduced for Liebherr PR736 generation 8 bulldozer

Trimble and Liebherr have introduced a Trimble Ready factory option for new Liebherr PR736 Generation 8 bulldozers. PR736 Generation 8 bulldozers that ship direct from the Liebherr factory are now ready for the installation of the Trimble Earthworks Grade Control Platform, which can significantly reduce the cost and complexity of the installation for the contractor. The announcement was made at bauma 2019.

Small machines get big grade capabilities

Small contractors handling small earthmoving or landscaping jobs often have small machines in their fleet, but that doesn't mean they only do small jobs. There are plenty of opportunities for local contractors to take on work that might need the precision of bigger contracts - precision that often comes with a big price tag.

World’s first 1 tonne electric mini-excavator from Bobcat

Bobcat has launched the world's first 1 tonne electric mini-excavator at Bauma 2019. Combining zero emissions, low noise and a width of just 71 cm, Bobcat's new E10e battery-powered, zero tail swing (ZTS) mini-excavator can easily pass through standard doors and in and out of lifts, making it ideal for indoor applications such as demolition and basement construction. 

free-magazine-subscription

Get Our Magazine

Paper or Digital delivered monthly to you

Subscribe or Renew Learn more