11 November 2019
CALL IN THE SAS
An Australian innovation has made the country's growing feedlot industry substantially more efficient and has brought relief to machine operation in extreme heat conditions.
Komatsu's Australian engineers have devised a way to maintain radiator efficiency in conditions which would otherwise cause machines to shut down for lengthy time-consuming cleaning.
The ingenious system of modifications has brought relief to operators as well as engine and transmission components, contributing to reduction in fatigue on long shifts at the controls.
Local Komatsu engineers have spent several years examining and changing airflow patterns over the radiators of their machines, particularly in applications where high fibre debris has the potential to clog radiators.
New wider-core radiator vanes allow debris to find its way past and through the radiator without the same propensity to clog.
The system, the result of substantial trials, has given Komatsu a decided edge in the burgeoning feedlot industry which this year is expected to exceed $4.6 Billion in contribution to the economy, and to service more than 1.5 million head of cattle.
More than 60 percent of Australia's 400 accredited feedlots are located in the comparatively high temperature regions of Queensland.
"Our brief from customers was to be able to provide them with a full shift of operation without having to stop to clean radiators and coolers of high-density fibers which gather on the ground in feedlots," Steve Hollins, Komatsu's National Technical Manager, Wheel Loaders, said.
"The solution we devised exceeded that target, and later improvements by the Komatsu factory have provided even greater efficiency.
"Our work was done on the PZ-6 series which is still in wide demand.
"It's pleasing that many of our modifications have been taken up as standard equipment on later models."
It was determined that the hydraulic fans which distribute air over the machine's radiator could be run in reverse to pick up clean air from behind the radiator and force it forward in the PZ-6 models.
The new-8 models from the factory have taken up the modification as standard.
The function operates every 20 minutes for three minutes under normal conditions but can be programmed to work for five minutes in every 12 in severe conditions.
The 'reverse cycle' for the PZ-6 models was assisted by the development of a special wide core radiator which opened blades from 2-3mm to 5-6mm allowing fibres a better opportunity to pass through without clogging.
The feature is now standard on the new-8 models.
The same technique was applied to the engine and transmission oil cooler which sits alongside the radiator.
One of the SAS team's modification provided an additional boost for operator comfort.
The relocation of the air conditioning condenser from nearby the radiator to the top of the cabin has had the dual advantage of clearing an additional airway for engine cooling and providing cooler, cleaner air to the operator.
The condenser, like the radiators, has an automatically activated self-cleaning function which further reduces the possibility of clogging.
It is provided as a retro-fit to the company's PZ-6 machines which are widely used in the feedlot industry and is an installation modification on Dash Seven and Dash Eight machines which have incorporated some of the innovation as original equipment.
"Operators in the feedlot industry are sometimes working in heat up to 50 degrees, and in conditions where a 'hay-buster' can split open a core of feed in a matter of seconds and create an almost impenetrably dust storm," Mr. Hollins said.
"For years, the need to stop and clean radiators has been an annoying, and as it turns out unnecessary drain on productivity."
Operators who needed to stop three or four times a shift to clean radiators with compressed air are now reporting up to 100 hours between major cleans.
For more information contact:
Komatsu Australia National Marketing Manager
Phone 1300 566 287
One of the WA320 PZ6 machines in QLD, where more than 60 percent of Australia's 400 accredited feedlots are located.