Hitachi Construction Machinery Australia takes inspiration from its tech-forward parent company to strengthen its fleet of mining trucks and excavators. Vanessa Zhou reports.
Hitachi Construction Machinery continues to make waves in the mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sector with the release of new models in its mining fleet.
Its mining excavators, the EX1200 up to EX8000 models, have commenced a transition period to the new generation EX-7 series, which hit the global market in April and are now operating in the field.
The EX1200-7 and EX2600-7 excavators made an appearance at Bauma 2019, the world’s largest construction trade fair in Munich, Germany, to coincide with the global launch.
Hitachi also rolled out the EX1200-7 hydraulic mining excavator in Perth, Western Australia, as the world’s first official launch site for the updated series.
The Japanese manufacturer believes it has delivered its safest and most efficient excavator yet with the new models, building off the previous EX-6 series to develop the machines.
Like the previous series, the EX-7 series includes six models ranging in size from the 100-tonne to 800-tonne class.
Hitachi’s commitment to productivity is evident in the company’s decision to upgrade certain models of the excavators with larger buckets, exceeding the productivity of their EX-6 predecessors.
EX-7 buyers have the choice of Cummins or MTU brand engines for reduced fuel consumption, strong horsepower, powerful arm and bucket-digging forces.
Hitachi has geared the EX-7 excavators towards helping users optimise safety, production and efficiency, using technologies that bring the Internet of Things (IoT) to sites around the world.
The Japanese manufacturer plans to deliver even more of the latest engine technology and fuel efficiencies for the other models, according to Hitachi Construction Machinery (Australia) general manager – mining, Eric Green.
“It’s exciting that we’re moving ahead with the development of the new EX-7 series, and having that transition and release of those products over the next couple of years, but we will continue to provide reliable excavator and truck products which we are known for in the industry,” Green tells Australian Mining.
Hitachi’s dump truck models, for example, can now have autonomous haulage system (AHS) technology retrofitted on the back of Hitachi’s fleet management system supplier, Wenco International Mining Systems.
Wenco’s fleet management system provides the platform for the optimisation of mining operations as part of the AHS.
The global subsidiary had the fleet management systems and technology needed for Hitachi equipment, and was henceforth acquired in 2009 in alignment with the manufacturer’s vision for autonomous mining.
Its systems provide operators with real-time visibility and insights, giving them better control over the cost of production without compromising mine productivity.
Hitachi’s introduction of AHS also saw the company collaborate with Whitehaven Coal last year to design a system that supports its Maules Creek mine in New South Wales.
The partnership involved scoping the delivery and commissioning of phased AHS deployment for the fleet of Hitachi EH5000AC-3 trucks at the operation.
In addition, Wenco creates bespoke products to support small mines, contractors and quarries. It has released Wencolite, which helps boost site performance with less complexity than a full-scale fleet management.
While Hitachi’s three-machine AC-3 dump truck series continues to offer its proven, existing model specifications – with both options of Cummins and MTU engines – it uses a drive system derived from the company’s bullet train development in Japan.
“That drive system operates on the same premise as the bullet train and is implemented into the Hitachi dump trucks,” Green says.
“We are very lucky to have access to that technology under the Hitachi Limited banner. It’s a large company with many areas of technology development globally, so we have the capacity to advance our mining equipment a lot more easily.
“Hitachi Limited has done research in the area of technology, and with the speed of change taking place today we don’t need to rely on outside companies as much.”
Hitachi is also pioneering an interoperable ecosystem of partner solutions with its ‘solution linkage’ platform.
With Wenco’s support, solutions linkage enables the sharing of information across sectors, providing control and end-to-end visibility across the entire mining process.
Open innovation is the guiding technological philosophy for solution linkage, according to Hitachi Constrution Machinery vice president and executive officer, chief technology officer Hideshi Fukumoto.
“Based on this philosophy, Hitachi Construction Machinery is announcing its commitment to championing the customer enablement of autonomous mining through an open, interoperable ecosystem of partner solutions,” Fukumoto says.
“We believe this open approach provides customers the greatest flexibility and control for integrating new autonomous solutions into their existing operations, while reducing associated risks and costs of alternative approaches.”
Most importantly, Hitachi stresses it is in Australia for the long-term. The company opened a new service centre in New South Wales in January to support its customer base in the Upper Hunter region, strengthening its facilities nationwide to 26.
Hitachi is also building a manufacturing workshop and facility in Perth to support the equipment it has at Pilbara mines.
The company has started the development of a stage two construction equipment branch and warehouse in Brisbane to bolster its presence in Queensland.
“We’re investing in, and not leasing those new facilities. That will continue on with the future development that has already been planned for other regions in Australia,” Green says.
“That provides a strong message to our customers that we are here for the long haul, we have that support for our customers and we want to continue our support for their current and new fleets of equipment.”
As product development continues to progress, Green is convinced Hitachi is in a positive position for a strong future in Australia.
This article also appears in the August edition of Australian Mining.