Having been introduced in the 1990s, machine control for dozing applications has become a trusted tool for operators in achieving precise and efficient projects. But that hasn’t stopped the folks at Komatsu, a NUCA Silver National Partner, from seeking ways to improve the technology to make it more reliable, useful and operator-friendly.
In 2013, the company introduced the D61PXi-23 dozer, the first of its kind with fully integrated machine control. Gone were blade-mounted antennae and componentry exposed to the harsh weather and jobsite conditions. Now, the company has introduced its latest technology, Proactive Dozing Control logic, on its D51EXi-24, D51PXi-24, D61EXi-24 and D61PXi-24 dozer models, taking machine control to the next level.
The machine control system comprises factory integrated components: cab-top GNSS antenna, chassis-mounted enhanced inertial measuring unit, stroke sensing hydraulic cylinders, touch screen control box and intuitive selectable load settings (Dozing settings: cut-and-carry, cutting, spreading, and simple grading; Blade load settings: light, normal and heavy).
The new Proactive Dozing Control logic collects topographic data at the tracks and generates information about the surface. As the machine moves forward, the information is continually updated, providing real-time conditions of the terrain and making it the first proactive system of its kind.
“With the ability to read the terrain and understand what is happening on the ground in front of the machine, the operator is better able to perform uniform cuts and fills, as well as being better able to put the material exactly where it is intended to go. This is truly going to revolutionize machine control as we know it,” said Michael Salyers, Senior Product Manager for Intelligent Machine Control and Smart Construction at Komatsu.
The technology is an extension of Komatsu’s proven experience in machine control design. “With the new system we are using basic concepts from earlier designs but using them to gather more data and process that data in real-time leading to highly efficient production,” according to Derek Morris, Product Marketing Manager for Intelligent Machine Control and Smart Construction at Komatsu.
The real benefit of Proactive Dozing Control logic is that the system is able to sense what the operator is trying to achieve and is able to relay that information where it is needed. For example, when grading the machine can look ahead, see heavy transitions and boost blade performance at those transitions. With the continually updated surface information, the machine can calculate the cut based off the ground in front of it, understanding when to cut and when to carry, which improves efficiency similar to that of an expert operator.
So, what does that mean for operators? For starters, it broadens the range of applications in which machine control can be effectively used. “For as long as machine control has been around, operators have essentially used it in the same way,” Salyers said. “They use the system to let them know where the grade is, but they manually manipulate the blade to cut the materials. Only when they finally get to within a few inches of target surface is when full utilization of the system occurs. In the past, all the machine would know is the design surface, but most of the time you are not dozing close to the design surface.”
“We have expanded machine control past finished grade to provide efficiencies and accuracies when stripping, spreading or cutting – it’s a grass-to-grade product,” Morris said. “With this kind of tool, the applications are limitless.”