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Advanced Automation Machine Control takes Dozing Efficiency to the Next Level

July 21, 2022
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"Grass to Grade" Technology
Experts' Corner

"Grass to Grade" Technology

Automatic blade control with GPS technology add-on for dozers is nothing new, but these conventional systems are only practical for particular portions of the grading work. Komatsu's recently released Proactive Dozing Control system expands both the effectiveness and the range of usability of machine control, significantly changing the game of grading.

In this edition of Experts Corner, Jeff Martin, a 30-year industry veteran and SMS Equipment's SMART Construction Sales Representative, shares his insights on the new technology and how it is changing the day-to-day work for busy contractors.

Machine control has been around for a while and is widely used. So why was there a need to improve on existing technology?

Typical GPS on dozers is limited because it is a simplistic blade control; the system will follow a design, but it's not sensitive to the operation of the machine, and it doesn't care about the terrain. All it does is lift the blade up and down. It will not adjust the blade when the cut is too large or the blade is too full, resulting in track slippage. Track slippage stresses the undercarriage and creates an uneven surface increasing the number of passes you must make. The challenge is that conventional machine control is typically used only in the final stages of the job.

Automatic Dozing from Grass to Grade



 
USE AUTOMATION THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE PROCESS
TILT STEERING CONTROL









 
  • Automatically tilts blade to maintain straight travel while rough dozing
  • Maintains consistent power to the ground and track

Watch Proactive Dozing in Action

Stripping Topsoil

PROACTIVE DOZING CONTROL


Applications: Stripping topsoil, high-production dozing

  • Uses data from previous pass to plan the next pass
  • Automatically cut / strip from existing terrain
  • Helps new operators perform like experienced ones

Mass Excavation

LIFT LAYER CONTROL
 

Applications: Lifting, compaction quality control

  • Maintain precise lift thickness
  • Automatically spreads lift from existing terrain and helps prevent overfill
  • Up to double the production of prior model

Finish Grading

IMPROVED FINISH GRADING


Applications: Finish Grading

  • Analyzes terrain and 3D model to proactively position blade in hard-to-grade areas
  • Helps prevent overcutting at finish grade

* Compared to previous iMC control methods
** Compared to traditional methods



What does Komatsu do differently?

Proactive Dozing Control fundamentally differs from the previous machine control and other bolt-on technologies in the market. The technology and capabilities are fully integrated with the machine instead of just being a standalone GPS add-on. With Proactive Dozing Control, the machine continuously uses as-built mapping and saves the data each pass, allowing the job to be done better and quicker. For example, the system senses track slippage when the blade is overloaded and will lift the blade slowly, removing track slippage.

The difference is evident when you're stripping topsoil. Because it senses and remembers the terrain, a dozer equipped with Proactive Dozing Control can strip the topsoil perfectly without mixing material. Black dirt/live soil should be kept as clean as possible so contractors can repurpose it in later stages of the job. As mixed material piles are considered waste, contractors will end up hauling more waste piles rather than leaving them on site.



What's the impact of this on the bottom line?

Fewer passes save time for operators and reduce the fatigue factor. It also reduces wear and tears on the undercarriage because you aren't spinning your tracks each time the machine senses overload. Additionally, the rework significantly decreases because the machine creates a perfect finish. Finally, you don't mix your black dirt with clay or other organics, making smaller marginal piles and increasing investment return. 
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How does this change the day-to-day work for operators?

Komatsu's intelligent machines with Proactive Dozing Control are essentially a "grass to grade" technology that you use throughout a grading operation. Proactive Dozing Control is designed for finishing as you go. Most people are used to turning on the GPS at the very end for finishing. So I tell operators to learn the system, turn on the GPS when they begin the job, and run it until the job is complete. A mindset shift is needed and takes some getting used to, as operators are used to returning after the fact to finish a job. 

Another point is that operators often ask me, "Is this going to take away my job?" The answer is emphatically "no." To run these machines efficiently, you still need a skilled operator who knows how the equipment operates, how to spring the dirt, load a truck, etc.

To run these machines efficiently, you still need a skilled operator who knows how the equipment operates, how to spring the dirt, load a truck, etc. Technology won't do much for somebody who doesn't know anything about grading, but it can do amazing things in the hands of a good operator. It makes a good operator better and an advanced operator even greater.

I think the technology also makes grading more attractive for young people considering construction as a trade. So it doesn't just help existing operators get better - it helps attract new operators as well. 
 

How does SMS Equipment help?

We are a company that focuses only on extensively supporting the equipment we sell. SMS Equipment provides complete service and training support and has set up our organization's infrastructure to support customer operations long after the machine is handed over. The typical SMS Equipment field employee has years of experience on job sites and a tonne of application knowledge. They can discuss equipment from top to bottom, how to use it efficiently and increase productivity, and how to keep it running in optimal condition. 


Why are you so successful in your role?

I have worked in this industry for over 30 years, including roles as a contractor. So, I can "talk dirt" with customers about their problems, their application and how they can use a particular machine. I know how much it costs to do a job. I know how much it costs to load trucks. I know problems from the project management side, the estimating side, and the operating side. These are the topics my customers want to discuss.

Takeaways

  • Traditional machine control has helped contractors improve productivity, but the typical GPS-enabled system was a standalone add-on that was relatively limited.
  • Komatsu Proactive Dozing Control takes machine control to a new level by introducing an integrated approach where the system responds to the terrain, the machine and GPS information.
  • The new technology supports a "finish as you go" approach that eliminates rework and improves overall Efficiency.
  • The new technology is popular with operators as it helps them focus on what they do best and improve their performance.  
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Are you interested in discovering what machine control can do for your business?

Komatsu iMC 2.0 Dozers

New iMC 2.0 dozers increase production up to 60% with the ability to use automatics from grass-to-grade.

  • Lift layer control uses the shape of the existing terrain to place lifts consistently with high accuracy, reducing compaction rework
  • Create a temporary design with quick surface creation
  • Tilt steering control automatically tilts blade to maintain straight travel during rough dozing and reduces track slip 
View iMC 2.0 Dozers