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Kobelco next-generation excavator redesigns add standard features

An excavator is parked on a job site
Kobelco excavators are being redesigned with more standard features and capabilities.

Design and plenty of standard features are core components of Kobelco's philosophy when it comes to updating its equipment line. That is showing up strongly as the manufacturer rolls out redesigned machines in its excavator portfolio, which is being fully refreshed through 2022 and 2023.

With the most recent addition, the SK210LC-11 excavator, Kobelco is setting the stage for what it expects to be a busy few months leading into CONEXPO in 2023, with more updated machines scheduled to reach the market in the near future.

According to product manager Dan Collins, the opportunity to redesign an entire line of machines and launch it in a short time is unusual and exciting.

"In most cases it's been around ten years since a redesign. All of our models are coming at the same time, so it's really exciting for us that all 20-some models, particularly in North America, are being released in about a 24-month span," Collins related. "The concept of that for us here in North America is performance and quality, as well as standard features - a value-added concept."

Updates to the excavator line include some new models as well as redesigned versions of existing machines with a variety of new features. 

New engines emphasize power and function

One key difference for the North American market will be under the hood in many Kobelco machines. Collins said the conventional swing portion of the lineup will be benefitting from new powerplants.

"We've converted over to a Yanmar engine on the smaller conventionals, and we're starting to run Isuzu on the larger ones. We'll be one of the first manufacturers in North America to run a larger Yanmar engine," he said.

Yanmar engines will remain in the smaller excavators, where they have been used successfully for some time, Collins noted.

The most recent new machine to be released is the SK210LC-11, an excavator in the 20-ton range that will be equipped with the new Tier 4 Final Yanmar engine to produce 160 net horsepower and 577 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,500 rpm, 18 percent greater than in the previous model. Like the previously introduced SK75SR-7 and SK85SR-7 short radius machines and the SK130LC-11, Kobelco's Performance By Design concept has been put into effect in designing the cab, ergonomics, and safety features.

Two-way auxiliary hydraulics and independent travel - allowing the operator to lift and move the machine at the same time when necessary - are standard on the Kobelco next generation excavators, Collins said.

Cab designs focus on comfort and safety

Flip-up consoles make it easier to enter and exit the machine. A standard adjustable heated air suspension seat moves with the armrests and hydraulic controls to improve shock absorption and reduce operator fatigue. A 10-inch monitor combines a variety of inputs and controls for ease of use. 

The monitor also provides an added boost of safety for operators, who can view the area around the machine through a standard three-camera system. The cameras provide a 270-degree view around the excavator.

Collins said an overhead guard is unique on Kobelco cabs, another safety feature that is standard on these machines

"Our falling-object protection, or FOPS, guard is level two . . . if you drop around 300 pounds from about 10 feet, your operator is covered. On level two, you can drop around 600 pounds from around 10 feet and the operator will be covered," he explained. 

In addition, an LED work light package comes standard, offering seven lights surrounding the machine to provide increased visibility.

Excavators ready for machine control options

From a technology standpoint, Kobelco is also offering a variety of standard features - though it is not tying its customers to a particular type of machine control, if they wish to equip their machine with that feature. Instead, the new excavators are being fitted with mounting brackets to make that choice easier no matter what supplier a customer might go with.

"Currently in North America we aren't doing factory-installed systems dedicated to one partner, but our machine is equipped with machine-guidance-ready brackets . . . whatever the customer chooses, they can easily install their brand of guidance, whether it's 2D or 3D, without having to weld on the machine," Collins explained.

In addition, the next generation machines feature KOMEXS, the Kobelco Monitoring Excavator System, which allows users to remotely access information such as hours, fuel consumption, and maintenance status.

Remote troubleshooting, also standard, allows for easier diagnosis of problems.

"You used to need to get a laptop out and connect . . . you can now do that with your phone. Technicians can view using their app, do a diagnosis, and upload software up to eight gigabytes. You used to need all different engine software for different manufacturers," Collins noted.

Kobelco plans to continue introducing new and updated machines through 2022 and into early 2023, with an aim to having most of the line ready to go when CONEXPO rolls around in March of next year. Collins said the current rollout will include four short radius -7 machines, seven -11 machines, and a number of mini excavators.

In addition, specialty machines are part of the next generation rollout. One, the ED160BR-7 "Blade Runner," which offers both excavator and dozer functions, was released last year, and several demolition machines are expected to be released, along with material handlers and auto dismantlers.

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