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Collaboration and customer feedback shape new mining dozer

February 28, 2023
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Using extensive customer feedback, Komatsu re-engineered the D475A-8 - currently the world's largest production dozer. In this edition of Experts Corner, Chad Perreault, Mining Dozer Technical Specialist at SMS Equipment, shares his insights on how SMS Equipment and Canadian customers have helped shape the D475A-8's development. 

Why do mines need large dozers?

On mining sites, support machines, like dozers, can directly impact productivity by keeping blasting, loading and dump areas clean, enabling loading and hauling equipment to work more efficiently. 

So when the investment to have a dozer product as part of a fleet, it has to have a large enough capacity to match the payload of the other machines. We've been seeing significant growth in these larger dozers in the Canadian market.

What's special about the D475A-8?

The D475A-8 is currently the largest production dozer in the world, bringing significant improvements over the previous model. One improvement is the dozer has 11% more power in reverse, opening the door to a broader range of practical advantages—the additional horsepower in reverse aids in faster ground speeds, yielding shorter return cycle times enabling the dozer to be up to 10% more productive than previous model. The total cost of ownership is also reduced over approximately 60,000 hours due to the durability improvements to the work equipment, mainframe, track frames, equalizer bar, and pivot shafts. 

So overall, the dozer will remain in the field longer, and when it is undergoing maintenance, it will be back in the field sooner.

The D475A-8's push group has been enhanced by changing the blade's link structure to a single-link design, reducing blade sway by 70%. Other highlights of the design change are fewer greasing points, adjustable joints, and a stiffer structure. Also, The trunnions are 16% larger, feature a longer wear life, and can be reused by rotating 180 degrees, further decreasing maintenance costs. 

Quick Specs on Komatsu's D475A-8

Tier 4 Final (no DEF required)

Forward 890 HP @2,000 rpm (664 kW @2,000 rpm)
Reverse 968 HP @2,000 rpm (722 kW @2,000 rpm)

254195 lb (115300 kg)

Semi-U Dozer: 27.2 m3 (35.6 yd3)
U Dozer: 34 m3 (44.5 yd3)
Super Dozer:  45 m3 (58.9 yd3)

View more specs


What are customers saying?

We're getting early feedback that the D475A-8 is very comfortable to operate. It uses fingertip control which has been a big hit with operators. The finger tip controller(FCCS) improves operator ergonomics and operator stability when working on slopes or rough ground. We're actively monitoring the machine's performance to ensure that it meets our customer's needs, and we expect to have performance data over the next few months. 

I should also mention that our customers love working alongside Komatsu because the team is always actively listening and open to change designs and product improvements. We give a lot of care and attention to that conversation to ensure that the machine performs to meet the customer's application best. 

So, customer feedback on previous models shaped many of the features of the D475A-8

How does SMS Equipment add value to these conversations?

We work very closely with Komatsu on two levels. First, we have significant engineering and fabrication capabilities for adding modifications according to Komatsu specifications. Our modifications or additions always get full approval from Komatsu engineers and will not affect the warranty.  

There is quite a range of modifications depending on the type of mine and the customer's production objectives. We fitted a recently sold D475A-8 with a 58.9 cubic yard super dozer blade, , which is 33% larger than the stock blade. Other changes included a ground-level isolator, additional lighting, different grab handles, additional lubrication points, and a radio in the cab. We install these modifications to give the product a finished look, so they don't look like add-ons. 

Our work with product development and enhancements leads to the second level of involvement, where some of our recommendations get adopted by Komatsu for future models. The new fingertip control is an excellent example– we developed that with our customers, and now it is a regular feature. This is possible because Komatsu assigns engineers to work with us in Acheson, and also, of course, Komatsu is willing to accept feedback about their designs.  

The bottom line:

A large dozer like the Komatsu D475A-8 is a significant investment for a mine, but because it is not part of the regular production chain, its performance requirements aren't as well established as those for trucks and excavators.

SMS Equipment is working closely with customers and Komatsu to close that gap to ensure that key requirements are identified and incorporated in modifications and future iterations of the product.
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