Komatsu’s main stage at ConExpo 2020 played host to an all-new dozer and a significant update to its Intelligent Machine Control (iMC) platform.
The new D71PXi-24 on display at the show is a new mid-size dozer model and the first new Komatsu machine that will offer the second generation of the iMC platform.
Get all the details on the D71i and iMC 2.0 in this video. Or if you prefer text, read on below.
Because Komatsu was a little light on the details with the new D71, it’s best to think of the showing of that machine as more a preview. In fact, Komatsu hasn’t yet announced a concrete release date for this machine other than at some point in the next 12 months.
The D71 will be the largest hydrostatic dozer with factory-integrated machine control on the market, Komatsu says. It’s powered by a 237-horsepower Komatsu diesel engine and will be in the same size class as Komatsu’s D65 dozer models.
And apart from its hydrostatic drivetrain, the other big differentiator with the D71 is its design, as Komatsu senior product manager Jason Anetsberger explains.
“It’s in the same size class as our existing D65 dozer which is a conventional dozer with a torque converter drivetrain. The D71, is our cab-forward design super slant nose and it’s an HST dozer,” Anetsberger says. “So it’s just as big as that D65— we’ve got a nice 14-foot blade on there, 36-inch shoes in this configuration, it’s got 237 horsepower, [and weighs] 52,000 pounds, so she’s a big pushing machine.
“But with it being a hydrostatic and a super slant nose, it’s still very nimble and versatile and it allows the operators to get into tight areas. So it’s really a beautiful one-in-all machine that can do massive hogging and can do that tight detail work, giving the customer the operator tons of flexibility on the jobsite.”
With the D71, Anetsberger says operators are going to find a very comfortable operating environment and because of that super slant nose, visibility that he says is “unparalleled.”
“You can see your blade tips, you can see everything around you. You can see forward and that’s not always the case in dozers in this size class which traditionally have had a very high hood and very limited visibility out the front window,” he says. “That is not the case in this machine.
“…It’s super comfortable, has super great visibility and when you start pushing dirt you’re going to appreciate the ride, the balance and the performance that this machine offers.”
The D71 will also feature Komatsu’s Parallel Link Undercarriage System. Otherwise known as the PLUS undercarriage, it’s designed to weather extreme wear and tear thanks to a rotating bushing design.
Komatsu says the system can last up to twice as long as conventional undercarriages while eliminating downtime caused by pin and bushing turns. The system can also lower repair and maintenance costs by up to 40 percent in certain applications.
Let’s move on to intelligent Machine Control 2.0. This is the first major update Komatsu has made to its iMC platform and Anetsberger tells us that it will provide operators with more automation features to use while making them easier to activate and giving them the ability to activate them more often.
“The vision behind iMC 2.0 is to give operators and customers greater utilization of their automatics investment. GPS technology costs extra and we recognize that. So we want to make sure those dozers and these machines are producing the utmost possible with that technology,” he says.
iMC 2.0 is made up of four components that offer operators new automation functionality:
- Proactive Dozer Control
- Lift Layer Control
- Tilt Steering Control
- Quik Surface Creation
The first of these iMC 2.0 features, Proactive Dozing Control, is really the foundational feature of iMC 2.0 because of the giant boost in data and environment recognition that it brings the platform.
And the feature itself has actually been available since last summer on Komatsu’s D51EXi and PXi and its D61EXi and PXi dozers. The big deal with this feature is that rather than really only making sense for use on finish grading, Proactive Dozing Control is grade control that can be used 100 percent of the time.
That means it can perform site cleanup, backfilling, auto-stripping, auto-spreading, high production dozing tasks and more.
Traditionally, grade control systems have only focused on blade positioning. But Proactive Dozing Control also generates data about the dozer’s tracks and that’s so the system has a more complete understanding of the ground beneath the machine.
We’ve got a whole separate video on Proactive Dozing Control that details how it works so be sure to check that out below.
Now because of how much more about the terrain iMC 2.0 understands, the platform is capable of something called Lift Layer Control. This allows operators to spread fill from existing terrain in more consistent layers. The feature works by measuring the terrain as the machine tracks over it and then uses that data to plan ahead of its next pass. The feature is activated with a single button press and Komatsu says it can double production. Plus the more consistent layers make for more quality compaction.
Third up on the new iMC 2.0 features is Tilt Steering Control. This feature automatically tilts the dozer’s blade in order to keep the machine traveling straight while you’re doing rough dozing. Obviously if the machine is traveling in a straighter line, the cut is going to be cleaner, but you can also think of this one as an operator comfort feature since Komatsu says that it finds that it reduces the need for operator steering input by up to 80 percent.
Last but not least in the iMC 2.0 feature set is Quick Surface Creation. Operators can use this feature to create a temporary design surface with one press of a button. The cool thing with this feature is that it really lets you quickly create surfaces on the fly and Komatsu says that when you combine it with other iMC 2.0 functions, operators can actually begin stripping or spreading using the automatic modes while waiting for finish grade mode.
“So if [the operator] wants to level out a pad, he can quickly change the elevation of that, the mainfall of that and then the cross slope,” Anetsberger says.
In addition to allowing operators to use automatic modes 100 percent of the time, a big focus with iMC 2.0 was making it simpler for operators to engage these modes. Quick Surface Creation is a perfect example of that.
“Before, let’s say you wanted to make a simple surface, it could be up to 10 button presses to get through the menus….now we have shortcuts where it’s one button press,” Anetsberger says. “We’re not only trying to make the machine more capable but we’re trying to make the machine easier for customers to utilize the investment that they’ve got.”