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Last year Komatsu let us do some digging with their new intelligent Machine Control (iMC) technology on their big PC360LCi-11 and PC490LCi-11 excavators. And now the company has introduced the second generation model of its first semi-auto excavator, the 23.5 metric ton PC210LCi.
First launched in 2014, the PC210LCi-10 (the ‘i’ stands for intelligent) was Komatsu’s first excavator to feature machine control integrated from the factory. This iMC technology uses GPS/GNSS signals to orient the machine in space and guide the joysticks, hydraulics and bucket so that the operator cannot over-dig or cut a profile other than what’s detailed on the 3D topo map loaded into the excavator’s computer.
That essentially turns this excavator into a giant CNC router, machining away the earth to centimeter-level precision. The benefits are huge. In the fully automatic mode, it is physically impossible for operators to over excavate. The GPS guides the machine’s hydraulics and bucket to cutting precise trenches, slopes and swales with no need to refill or recompact to make grade.
Komatsu says the new second-generation model, the PC210LCi-11, can provide up to a 63-percent improvement in excavating efficiency over the standard PC210LC-11.
The process also eliminates the need and expense of using grade checkers or doing finish dozing. And if you’re trenching, you get a perfectly sloped, flat bottom trench at an exact depth without ever having to put a man with a survey pole in the trench. You save on survey costs and can use inexperienced operators to do the kind of work that used to take a highly skilled craftsman.
With the PC210LCi-11, all the machine control functions are now located on the joysticks for comfort and convenience. And you can set the system to dig in the “indicate” mode, where you manually guide the bucket to targets on the screen, or a “fully automatic” mode where the hydraulic system takes over the positioning of the bucket to prevent over-digging.
Komatsu’s iMC is used on a half dozen of its dozers as well. To help contractors new to the technology figure it all out, Komatsu is employing a new breed of product support specialists, called Technology Solutions Experts or TSEs, at its dealers. These TSEs can help with 3D modeling, jobsite setup, operator training and remote support and troubleshooting.
To see our video demonstration of the larger excavators with Intelligent Machine Control click here.