It’s been a pretty busy summer for Hyundai Construction Equipment. In addition to putting the finishing touches on moving its U.S. headquarters from Chicago to Atlanta, the company rolled out substantial refreshes on both its wheel loader and excavator lineups.
Near the end of July, Hyundai unveiled its seven new HX Series excavators, and in early August it rolled out the five new HL Series wheel loaders. Aware of the typical customer’s eye roll at a Tier 4 Final engine refresh (though both machine lineups have benefitted considerably from the change to new Cummins and Scania engines as we detail below), Hyundai used the opportunity to bring a complete overhaul to the cabs of these machines.
And while the company shared most of the details on these new machines with those initial announcements earlier this summer, at a dealer and media event in Atlanta last week, Hyundai gave the machines their first real public debut and shared a bit more insight into the design overhauls and the primary selling points it believes contractors and operators stand most to benefit from.
The main improvement to both the HX Series excavators and the HL Series wheel loaders is the cab. Hyundai marketing manager Corey Rogers says Hyundai engineers were heavily influenced in the redesign of the cab by the comfort and technology found in modern luxury cars.
In fact, comfort is the number one selling point of the new machines, Rogers says.
“The big thing is the cab. Man it’s a lot of space. This is a big nice cab. You can’t not like this cab,” Rogers says, noting that the HX Series excavator cabs are 13 percent larger than those found on the 9A Series, while the HL wheel loaders are 10 percent larger.
Rogers says the entire structure of the cabs has changed with both being ROPS and FOG 1/2. “And beyond the added comfort and safety of these changes, the new cab design gives us more space and an improved flat glass front design on the HX machines for better visibility,” he says.
Upon hopping into both the new excavators and wheel loaders, you immediately notice that they offer fairly similar setups with the focal point being the beautiful new touchscreen display Hyundai has situated in the right corner of both cabs.
Hyundai used much of its time discussing the new machines last week to break down all of the new features attached to that monitor.
“This monitor is amazing,” Rogers said.
Sized at 8 inches in the new excavators and 7 inches in the new loaders, it’s hard to come up with a better word for Hyundai’s new monitor, especially when compared to some of the others on the market. When designing it, Rogers said Hyundai engineers thought hard about operators, particularly younger ones, and the types of features they’re used to having from their smartphones and tablets.
For that reason, these displays carry a feature called Miracast which allows the operator to mirror his or her smartphone display to the display inside the machine, allowing them to take phone calls (very simply when connected to the cab’s Bluetooth audio), check emails, use jobsite collaboration apps like FieldLens or, yes, even tweet. “I have a feeling quite a few operators out there will be tweeting from these new displays,” Rogers said. Let’s just hope they’re stationary.
The new display also integrates all switches along with an inclinometer, which assists the operator in maintaining a level bucket, an ECO Gauge, which displays a color letting the operator know how fuel efficient their operation is, and an All Around View Mode which stitches together an overhead view of the machine use four cameras.
In addition to the new touchscreen and multi-function joysticks, the HX excavators get a new haptic controller. This joystick-like nub is located just behind the right joystick on the new excavator models and is very similar to the touch-sensitive nubs found in newer luxury cars. It’s used as an alternative method of input for the new monitor and much more.
“This is an automobile technology. You can keep your eye on the job or on the monitor and make adjustments on the monitor. You don’t have to look down,” Rogers says. “It’s not only a controller though, it’s a jog shuttle, a throttle dial, A/C control it’s almost a full-fledged joystick.
And while the new wheel loaders don’t have the haptic controller, they do feature a new auto-weighing system Rogers says is accurate within +/- 1 percent when fully calibrated. “It does not take the place of a certified load weight system but it is a great feature to keep the operator on track,” he says.
While the interior of the new HX and HL Series machines dominated most of the discussion at the Hyundai event, Rogers did comment on the new engines powering these machines.
On the HX Series, the 220 through the 380 are powered by Cummins engines while the two largest machines, the 480 and 520, are powered by Scania engines. Cummins engines power the HL935, HL940, HL955 and HL960 models, while Scania engines power the larger HL970 and HL980 models.
“I think the challenge for these engineers is squeezing a bit more juice out of that orange with trying to both enhance productivity and increase fuel economy,” Rogers says. “Because that’s kind of an inverse relationship. But they’ve been able to do it with a 5-percent productivity boost and a 10-percent fuel economy boost over the 9A series.”
Rogers says Hyundai has been asked why it chose not to go with Cummins engines across the lineups. “Quite frankly, Scania, at the top horsepower level in our testing performed better than Cummins. And we decided we wanted to give our customers the engine that performed best.”
Plus, on the HX excavators, Hyundai has included a new feature called Intelligent Power Control which identifies operator control patterns, decides what the operator is trying to accomplish and adjusts hydraulic flow and engine rpm accordingly, Rogers says. “If it notices you’re doing a grading application and notices you don’t really need the speed, it optimizes the system for you. It’s basically an automatic mode that makes the operator better.”