Product feature: Queensland’s first automatic Komatsu excavator


The first Queensland-bought Komatsu excavator that can intelligently perform duties has been hired out by Weier Group

The first Queensland-bought Komatsu excavator that can intelligently perform duties traditionally done by a manual operator has been hired out on a long-term roadworks project by earthmoving and construction company Weier Group.

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The PC210LCi-10 is the latest addition to the Weier Group fleet

Owner Gareth Weier says his business specialises in wet plant hire, supplying premium earthmoving and roadworks services to tier-one customers such as Fulton Hogan and Lendlease and to large contractors.

Gareth worked for eight years as a loader operator in an underground gold mine before starting his earthmoving business at Noosaville with a single skid steer. He has since built it up using predominantly Komatsu excavators, including a hybrid 335LC-1, a PC300LC-8, two PC138US-8, a PC45MR-3 and a PC88MR-8.

Gareth says he has always taken a progressive approach to new machine technologies and the Komatsu iMC (intelligent Machine Control) PC210LCi-10 excavator purchase was an extension of that.

"I like to be on the cutting edge of technology in terms of our equipment," he says. "That’s always been our approach: something new comes out from Komatsu and we check it out to see if it can benefit our business.

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Gareth Weier

"I wanted to see what the intelligent excavator could do. I had a go on it and was especially impressed by its operational efficiencies and reduced operator fatigue. We ended up being the first business in Queensland to buy one."

Gareth was particularly taken by the excavator’s automatic control features. "With a normal machine, the operator can see the line he has to dig to but has to keep stopping to use his bucket to check digging depths and ensure they’re on grade.

"With the iMC excavator, you take the bucket down to the line, pull one lever and it automatically traces the ground so the operator doesn’t have to think and do as much as they would, conventionally, to avoid cutting past the line.

"Once the model has been loaded into the iMC machine, the surface level is set. Because the line can’t be over-cut, you avoid having to in-fill with more material than is necessary, which is extremely important when you’re trying to save the client money."

Komatsu says the iMC excavator’s exclusive automatic control technology can boost work efficiency by more than 60% when compared with conventional construction processes – an advantage Gareth quickly noticed. "It is obviously more accurate, and I saw that it would be quicker in practice," he says.

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iMC technology is said to boost efficiency by more than 60%

He is also mindful of the benefits his operators get from the technology. "They don’t have to concentrate on cutting to a line as much when they know that the machine can take control. It requires less mental exertion over a day than they would usually expend. It’s also a quicker overall result because there are fewer required actions than in a manual exercise, so they’re less fatigued all-round."

Asked whether such automation might erode the value of an operator’s manual skills, Gareth says: "You still need someone who is fairly experienced and knows what they are doing, but, no, the operators love it, and especially the screen, which is a lot bigger and better than the bolt-on GPS systems."

The technology is built into the iMC excavator, and Gareth says he wouldn’t consider ‘bolt-on’ alternatives. "The integrated Komatsu technology is basically around the same cost, but you’re dealing with Komatsu rather than a third party, which is our preference.

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Komatsu iMC technology is integrated into the machine, not bolted-on additions

"We have a machine from another manufacturer that is nightmare to deal with, in comparison. Getting anything done by them is like pulling teeth. Komatsu, however, is always so easy to deal with.

"Theirs are very reliable machines but if anything needs attention, Komatsu is right onto fixing it. That’s absolutely imperative in this industry because downtime equals losing money. We need machines that won’t let us or our customers down."

Gareth expects to add more Komatsu iMCs to his fleet. "Yes, this is our first step into that suite of the different offerings in Komatsu’s Smartconstruction solutions. I’m focused on continuing to grow the business. I know Komatsu has an iMC dozer, so will be keeping an eye on that. Hopefully a job will come up that suits it."

Watch the iMC Komatsu in action

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