Komatsu has introduced the first of its next-generation, Dash-10 wheel loader models. The WA475-10 is an electronically controlled loader with an all-new hydraulic mechanical transmission that combines the benefits of a hydrostatic transmission with that of a planetary mechanical transmission.
Komatsu says the development of the WA475-10 is several years in the making and the process was guided by a desire to give customers across the board spec and power increases while also boosting fuel efficiency.
You can get all the details on the new WA457-10 in our video coverage below. Or, if you prefer text, you can read on after the break.
New Transmission Transforms Powertrain
Despite the Dash-10 model number title and this machine’s added power, the WA475-10 is powered by the same Komatsu 6-cylinder engine that’s found in the WA470-8. This is also the same engine that powers the larger WA480-8.
However, in the WA475-10, Komatsu has tuned the engine to output 290 horsepower. According to Komatsu’s listed specs on their website, that’s 18 more more than the WA470-8 that came before it and just 9 less than the larger WA480-8.
But here’s the key to how Komatsu has managed more power and better performance out of this new machine while also dropping fuel consumption. While the WA470-8 and WA480-8 reach their peak horsepower at 2,000 rpm, the WA475-10 does it at just 1,600 rpm. And as you know, more power at lower engine speeds means better fuel efficiency.
Since Komatsu is using the same engine found in the WA470 and WA480 Dash-8 models, the difference with the WA475-10 is a new hydraulic mechanical transmission. This loader doesn’t have a torque converter. Essentially this transmission combines Komatsu’s hydrostatic transmission technology with that of a planetary transmission and uses a new travel speed control dial to allow operators to set speed.
Komatsu says the transmission divides engine power into two paths. Depending on the speed selected using the new control dial, hydrostatic control will be implemented when high torque is needed, or planetary control will be used in lighter situations to increase fuel efficiency.
“So we have a pump and motor coupled with a planetary transmission. What that does for us is it gives us 30 percent more fuel efficiency—production per fuel—and 17 percent less fuel consumption than its predecessor,” says Bruce Boebel, Komatsu’s senior product manager for wheeled products. “So when you’re doing some V-cycle, you’re doing high torque type work, it goes more to the hydrostatic side of the transmission. Let’s say you get up to speed, you’re doing some load-and-carry work. Then basically it shifts over to the mechanical. It’s very similar to kind of like a direct drive portion, so you get a lot of fuel savings.”
The end result of these gains is a 14-percent boost in productivity in the WA475-10 over the WA470-8.
Komatsu says that another benefit of this new hydraulic mechanic transmission is that it features dynamic braking. This optimized braking system allows you to use the travel speed control dial to assist in slowing down the machine without using the brake pedal. Komatsu says using dynamic braking through the dial can reduce brake wear for extended component life.
Another brake-saving feature on the 475-10 is the inclusion of an auto hill-holding feature. This allows the machine to hold its position firm on a slope, such as when stockpiling, even when you’re not depressing the brake pedal.
Beefed-up Hydraulics, New Bucket Available
The powertrain isn’t the only element of the 475-10 that Komatsu strengthened. The hydraulics on this machine have been beefed up too. The machine features larger boom cylinders that have made boom lift 20 percent stronger than what is found on the 470-8. Breakout force that has been increased by 8 percent.
Komatsu has also implemented a large bore bucket cylinder similar to what is found on the WA470-8 log loader.
Alongside the WA475-10, Komatsu has also introduced with a new bucket design that the company says drives deeper into a pile for easier filling. This 5.8-cubic-yard bucket features a longer jaw for easier loading and larger side curves for retaining material. The new floor shape and radius profile help roll material into the bucket for easier loading.
Another feature that has decreased fuel consumption also simplifies operation of the 475-10 and that’s Independent Work Equipment Control.
“What that means, let’s say on its predecessor, let’s say you’re coming up to a truck, and you need your work equipment to go faster,” Boebel explains. “You hit the accelerator and you hit the levers and you want that come up quickly. All of a sudden, you’re coming too close to that truck, you need to slow down. So then you’re on the brake.”
On the 475-10, Independent Work Equipment Control separates the accelerator pedal from the speed of the work equipment entirely. “So this machine is much simpler in that respect,” Boebel adds. “So if you want the work equipment to go faster, you just stroke the levers more.”
Plus, you can now customize the speed at which the work equipment moves when pulling the the boom lever through either the raise or lower detents. You can choose between Slow, Middle and Fast speeds. Another time-saving Komatsu has included is push-button bucket leveling. Check these features out in action in the video above.
Last year, Komatsu introduced the latest version of its WA900 loader. The Dash-8 generation of that machine includes a suite of new automation features that allow the machine to dig into piles, approach trucks and dump into trucks with little to no operator input. If you haven’t seen our video looking at how these features work on the WA900-8, be sure to check that out below.
The WA475-10 doesn’t get all of the auto features found on the 900-8, but Boebel says it does get Auto Dig.
Once you’ve pulled the loader up to a pile with the bucket at a digging ready height—which Komatsu classifies as 3 feet 9 inches or lower—you then push the dedicated auto-dig switch and let the system do just about all the work for you. An automatic kick-down switch can lower the machine into first gear and you as push the bucket into the pile, the system automatically curls the bucket to collect material before lifting the boom back to horizontal.
Redesigned Cab Boosts Visibility
Moving on to the cab of the WA475-10, it’s an all-new design built around customer feedback. Inside you’ll find a more spacious and comfortable operating environment, with new, more ergonomic switch positions along with an audio system that supports Bluetooth, USB, AUX and FM/AM radio connections.
“A lot of things are built into this from all those surveys over the years. We have the rear view monitor now in line with the mirrors…The seat is very adjustable. We have a five way adjustable armrest,” Boebel says.
This is also the first Komatsu machine to feature heated and remote control-rear view mirrors. With a tap of the rear defroster switch, the mirrors heat up and their angle can be adjusted using a switch on the right overhead console.
The WA475-10 can be configured with either a steering wheel or joystick steering which is a new option for this size class. Plus, Komatsu worked quite a bit on improving visibility with this new cab.
The company says it added glass at each front corner of the new cab, the bottom of each door and the rear windshield. Plus, Komatsu has switched to a slightly curved design for the front windshield.
“We decided to eliminate two of the pillars of the cab. So if you look at the back of the cab, there’s no pillars in that back corners. That visibility’s excellent out of the back corner behind you,” Boebel says. “So we only have four posts in there, lots of glass, the cab is the glass is curved, so the operator can sit back further in the cab. So if you have a tall operator, they’re gonna be very, very comfortable in the cab.”
The new cab design also features quite a bit of storage including a holster for your smartphone, bin storage, magazine and document storage and a spot for your lunchbox.
Finally, on the maintenance side, the WA475-10 features ground-level access doors for daily maintenance.
“We have a folding tilt tilt hood on this machine. … All your daily checks can be done through the two rear doors on the side, so it’s very convenient for customers,” Boebel says. “Additionally, the rear panels swings out and the fan swings out so you can get to those side by side coolers. It does have an auto reversing fan, also.”
The machine also features removable mud flaps and small engine compartment side panels that allow tool-less access to fuel filters, lube oil filters and the closed crank case ventilation filter assembly.