Product Focus: Komatsu Intelligent Machine Control 2.0

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Komatsu’s Intelligent Machine Control 2.0 system brings the latest technologies to the company’s SmartConstruction package, as Komatsu begins a second century of innovations

May 13 saw Komatsu celebrate its 100th anniversary, after being founded to sustain the community of Komatsu City, Japan, following the closure of a nearby copper mine.

Today, the company’s continued investment in its core capabilities, coupled with a series of strategic acquisitions, enable it to continue that tradition of support – or, as Komatsu puts it, "creating value together".

Nowhere is this better embodied than in the launch of new dozer and excavator models in Komatsu’s Intelligent Machine Control (iMC) 2.0 range, including some that made their debut at the recent Diesel Dirt & Turf Expo, held in Sydney in April.

The fully integrated machine control system is based around the 3D Global Navigation Satellite System, with the iMC 2.0 range now incorporating multi-satellite constellations across the range.

Komatsu has added Intelligent Machine Control 2.0 as the company enters its second century of operations

Komatsu Smart Construction and Intelligent Machine Control technology consultant James Mackenzie says this means new Komatsu dozers and excavators with iMC 2.0 will be able to pick up information from BeiDou and Galileo satellites, as well as the GPS and Glonass satellites available under the previous model.

"GPS and trees don’t normally mix, so if you are working near vertical objects such as trees, buildings and steep batter having more satellites keeps it more consistently connected, and accuracy may be improved as well," he says.

New Komatsu dozers, such as the D61PXi and D71PXi, will also come with twin antennas, to give the machine two points of reference when working, and a new "Tilt Steering Control" that continuously and automatically tilts the blade to maintain straight travel.

Other automated functions include proactive dozing, quick surface creation and lift layer control – which keeps track of previous work the dozer has done, in order to compensate when dozing the next time.

Komatsu’s iMC 2.0 excavators come with an autotilt function that keeps a digger bucket on an angle and boom height that automatically follows a preloaded design.

Other functions include auto grade assist, auto stop control and minimum distance control.

The Edge Box GNSS GPS recording device has been designed to speed up drone data processing

Smart choice

All models in Komatsu’s iMC range are fully integrated with the company’s Smart Construction suite, a host of simple-to-apply technologies developed for the benefit of Komatsu and non-Komatsu customers.

Whether they’re fitted to iMC products, or used on standard machines retrofitted with "bolt-on" machine guidance, the systems allow operators, project managers, contractors and clients to benefit from combinations of semiautonomous operation, machine guidance or machine control.

At its most simple, Mackenzie says, the Smart Construction suite keeps the project manager up to date on project progress with information direct from the machines themselves, using internet-of-things (IOT) technology.

The Smart Construction Dashboard information management offering integrates site management technology with drone-based survey and machine as-built data to keep running tabs on work done, currently on a daily basis.

"Eventually machine as-built data will be collected every hour – so every hour you will see what the dozer has done and where the excavator has dug as well," Mackenzie says.

In addition to this, and with the project manager inputting relevant designs and pre-construction and ground conditions data, the Smart Construction Dashboard will be able to simulate the work done in order to work most efficiently – and how it changes with the addition or removal of more vehicles.

"You can tell it what to do, otherwise it will tell you what to do – which part of your jobsite to cut first to be most efficient to finish the job," Mackenzie says.

"That simulation, it is not futuristic, it is now, and it is not far from being released."

Additional products in the Smart Construction suite include Smart Construction Remote – which enables a Komatsu team and customers to access various machine guidance devices remotely and then send updated designs direct to the dozer or excavator.

Smart Construction Fleet is a fleet management system – enabling a manager to track the movement of any machine as well as automatically tracking volume and load counts, and mapping a machine’s speed, position and heading over a period of time.

Smart Construction Field and Smart Construction Office help connect teams working in both locations and help with the ongoing tracking of job progress – all data that can be returned to the Smart Construction Dashboard for regular simulations of project progress.

The Intelligent Machine Control 2.0 system brings new construction technologies

Edge of tomorrow

The Smart Construction package also comes with 3D data services and an unmanned aerial vehicle drone service, covering initial site survey along with cut/fill and stockpile calculations, as well as ongoing progress tracking and site logistics.

Mackenzie says that most project managers avoid flying a drone every day because of the long time it takes to process drone data.

But a new system, unveiled at Diesel Dirt & Turf and set to be released later this year, will help improve processing speeds – to make more regular drone usage a more practical option.

Called the Edge Box, the GPS recording device can process GPS data and pictures from a drone rapidly – with an example at the expo processing 360 photographs in 50 minutes.

"It is aimed at earthworks progress tracking, so it processes quick data for you rather than having points every 10mm… it just simplifies the data a bit for the surveyor to look at the data," Mackenzie says.

That said, he adds that it may be useful in mining applications and in places where access to the internet, and to RTK networks, is more difficult.

"There is nothing like this out there… we are going to offer this to customers a bit later this year once we get the documentation sorted out – to rent it from us."

"If they already own a drone they can just rent the unit – we are not going to sell that, it is a unique device and also when we get a new product or if there is a newer version, we can just tell the customer to swap over, and take a newer one."

With the 2.0 range of IMC, Komatsu customers receive the benefit of greater satellite connectivity

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