Hitachi Construction Machinery

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Innovations

Technology Preview

This section introduces Hitachi Construction Machinery group’s technological research and advanced development initiatives as well as proposing concepts based on the construction sites of the future.

Latest initiatives

Developing an Autonomous Compaction System using a Vibratory Roller for Earthwork

Hitachi Construction Machinery Group works on developing autonomous construction equipment that can work in collaborative safety with humans and ICT/IoT technology for improving safety and productivity at construction sites. One such project under development is an autonomous compaction system using vibratory roller for earthwork.
Roads are broadly divided into four layers: the subgrade, subbase course, base course, and surface course. Vibratory rollers are utilized to compact the subgrade, which is the base layer of a road. They are also used in the preparation of dams, airports, and residential land. The construction of robust infrastructure requires the formation of base layers that are strong enough to withstand the loads they will be subjected to, and machinery needs to move back and forth countless times to ensure that the soil is evenly compacted. This means that autonomous operation requires a high level of driving accuracy.

Prototype Vibratory Roller for Earthwork

Looking ahead to commercialization, we are conducting verification test of prototypes applied with the “ZCORE®” system platform for autonomous construction machinery. The prototype has no driver seat. The machinery is moved to the construction site via wireless control, without an operator on board and then switched to the autonomous operation mode when it arrives at the intended location. During autonomous operation, the machinery automatically drives along a set route to compact the soil, and automatically stops if there are any obstacles along the way. The operation status and health of the machinery are indicated with an LED panel, flashlight, and buzzer to ensure that the machinery can operate in collaboration with nearby workers.

Compaction Management System

This system configures the area for compaction and manages/displays the driving route of the machinery and the number of times that compaction is to be performed. The operator can check the compaction status in real-time using a tablet device connected to the machinery via wireless LAN. The travel data of the machinery is recorded using a satellite positioning system, and any areas that were missed or areas with insufficient compaction can be checked at a glance via the color coded display of compaction counts. The system also enables compact records to be retrieved from the Cloud to check past work and create forms based on work history.

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Achieving Autonomous Operation at Mines

Machinery and equipment operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at mining sites to supply the resources that support our daily lives.
Hitachi Construction Machinery utilizes ICT and IoT technology to develop long-distance remote control and autonomous operation technology for ultra-large hydraulic excavators and to also promote the development of a dump truck Autonomous Haulage System to contribute to the achievement of autonomous operation for customers around the world to improve the productivity and safety of mining operations.

Development for Autonomous Operation of Ultra-Large Hydraulic Excavators

Hitachi Construction Machinery is developing a wide range of technologies to realize autonomous operation of ultra-large hydraulic excavators at mines.
First, we are working on advanced remote control systems to further improve the working environment and safety of operators.
Also, careful checking and operation by operators at mines is conducted to avoid collisions with other equipment and vehicles and to maintain vehicle stability. We are developing operation support systems to maintain these even during remote operation.
Further, we are planning to develop a system that will enable a single remote operator to operate multiple ultra-large hydraulic excavators concurrently by automating part of the excavation and loading operations.
Combining these technologies will allow us in the future to provide customers with ultra-large hydraulic excavators that have autonomous operation features.

Dump Truck Autonomous Haulage System (AHS)

Dump trucks equipped with Hitachi Construction Machinery AHS can be efficiently dispatched through autonomous haulage by following the instructions of the Fleet Management System (FMS) of our group company Wenco International Mining Systems Ltd. This system is scalable to control up to 100 vehicles and can be used for autonomous operation at large-scale mines.
In the near future, autonomously operated ultra-large hydraulic excavators and dump trucks will exchange information with other equipment and machinery to realize autonomous operation and improve safety and productivity at mining sites.

(Picture:Ultra-large hydraulic excavators and an operator-drived dump truck during a remote control verification test.)

arw_r Autonomous Haulage System(AHS)

Development Test Site (Urahoro Test Site)

Development of remotely operated ultra-large hydraulic excavators and other equipment is conducted at the Hitachi Construction Machinery Urahoro Test Site (Urahoro-cho, Tokachi-gun, Hokkaido). This test site is located on a vast 427-hectare land owned by the company, and is a digging and traveling operations test site where experiments can be conducted day and night.
Mining machinery that operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year is tested in a variety of environments, including at different times during the day and in different weather conditions, because this machinery must be able to operate under a wide range of environments.

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Future Construction Sites Envisioned by Hitachi Construction Machinery

Improve safety and productivity by sharing data about people, machinery and construction environments in site.

Hitachi Construction Machinery envisions a construction site that is capable of improving safety and productivity autonomously through the mutual exchange of data about people, machinery and construction environment.

Connected Data in Construction Site

By linking data in the construction site, we aim to improve the safety and productivity of the entire site. Equipment and sensing systems collect real-time data in construction site, such as equipment location and operational status, worker location and biometric information, and changes in terrain as work progresses. This accumulated data is used to analyze risks within the construction site, and the results are shared to improve safety. Reference is also made to weather forecasts and other external information to prepare for future risks.

ZCORE® System Platform for Autonomous Construction Equipment

Given the declining production workforce and the aging of skilled workers, the challenge in the construction industry is to increase productivity with less man-power. One promising solution to this problem is autonomous construction equipment and remote operations.
This shows that the need for equipment on construction sites is changing from “equipment that is operated by people to do what they want” to “equipment that performs a job in the way people want it to.” In order to respond to these changing needs and varied demands of the site, the Hitachi Construction Machinery Group developed the ZCORE®, a system platform to enable the equipment system to “recognize, make judgments, and execute,” which operators conventionally do at construction sites.

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“Collaborative Safety” and “Collaborative Construction Equipment”

The concept of “Collaborative Safety” is designed to enhance the safety and productivity of the entire site by sharing data on people, machinery, and construction environment within the site. Not only does it “visualize” the location and condition of people and machines, it also uses that data to alert people and control the movement of construction equipment, ensuring the safety of the site as a whole. Hitachi Construction Machinery calls construction equipment that operates autonomously to achieve Collaborative safety “Collaborative Construction Equipment” envisioning this as a model for the next generation of construction machinery.
(Picture is a prototype excavator applied with ZCORE®)

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Construction Machinery that Create New Value

TRIAS, an Energy-saving Hydraulic System for Hydraulic Excavators

In 1965, we installed on hydraulic excavators a two-pump and two-valve hydraulic system, which enables combined movements. Since then, we have continued to pursue operability that permits intuitive operations, thereby contributing to productivity improvement and acquiring a good reputation from customers.
The TRIAS energy-saving hydraulic system adopts a three-pump and three-valve system, which improves the fuel economy while supplying a sufficient amount of hydraulic oil during high-load operation. This technology was granted the FY 2017 Kanto Region Invention and Innovation Award at the Commissioner of the Patent Office Awards. (Patent No. 5572586) For the Hydraulic Excavator ZX200-6, and the Hybrid Hydraulic Excavator AH200-6, we have further evolved TRIAS and added an electromagnetic valve to each pump, enabling meticulous control of the hydraulic oil flow rate. Today, both society and customers require reduced energy consumption. In response, we at Hitachi Construction Machinery will continue to pursue both lower energy consumption and higher operability by combining our hydraulic control and electronic control technologies that we have cultivated.

Dump Truck with AC Drive System

A mining dump truck transports loads by traveling on unpaved roads for a long period. Operation of a mining dump truck requires a high level of driving skills and great concentration to remain alert at all times. Therefore, the reduction of operators’ fatigue is essential for maintaining safety and productivity.
Rigid dump trucks from Hitachi Construction Machinery feature an alternate current (AC) drive system that applies a highly responsive IGBT* inverter. These dump trucks also feature independent, meticulous control of the left and right motors, which has been enabled by taking advantage of technologies cultivated by Hitachi, Ltd. in the field of power infrastructures.
These Advanced Vehicle Stabilization Controls Technologies received a JSME Medal for New Technology 2014 hosted by the Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers. They were highly reviewed for their pitching and sideslip prevention control for mining dump trucks, which feature a greater weight change and higher center of gravity than ordinary vehicles.

*IGBT (Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor): It is a semiconductor that controls and supplies electric power.

Solutions for Customers’ Issues

Solution Linkage

At Hitachi Construction Machinery, we are developing ICT and IoT solutions for solving customers’ issues—to be overcome to achieve higher safety, greater productivity, and lower lifecycle cost.

Solution Linkage is centered around AHS Solutions, Fleet Management System and Solutions, ICT Construction Solutions, and Service Solution ConSite®. It creates new value by integrating these solutions with One Hitachi, which is a mass of a wide range of advanced technologies from the Hitachi Group, and open innovations, in which we apply technologies of partner companies.

Fleet Management System (FMS)

While a high level of operating efficiency and safety is required at such a site, the efficient operation and management of dump trucks is an important task in mining operations.

The Fleet Management System (FMS), which is provided by Wenco International Mining Systems Ltd., a Hitachi Construction Machinery Group company, monitors each dump truck on a real-time basis and dispatches trucks optimally. It aids the dispatcher in managing the operation efficiently.

In addition, FMS is capable of providing comprehensive support for mining operations with a wide range of applications, covering dump truck maintenance, time optimization for parts replacement, and output prediction based on mineral content.

arw_r Fleet Management System

ICT Hydraulic Excavator ZX200X-6

Demand for automation is also growing in the construction machinery market, reflecting social and customer issues, such as the decline of the working population and the need to improve productivity.
The ICT Hydraulic Excavator ZX200X-6 from Hitachi Construction Machinery, comes with Solution Linkage® Assist, a machine control function developed independently by the company. Based on the machine’s location information and 3D information about angle of bucket teeth, which is obtained from the GNSS* receiver, Solution Linkage Assist controls the front section of the machinery (boom, arm, and bucket) semi-automatically on a real-time basis in accordance with the design values, thereby enabling efficient operations without excavating too much of the target surface.

*GNSS stands for Global Navigation Satellite System.

ConSite®

Construction machinery operate for a long time in a variety of environments all over the world. At Hitachi Construction Machinery, we offer ConSite®, a service solution that helps prevent machine issues by checking the condition of construction machinery, so that customers’ construction machinery can always deliver the best performance under optimal conditions.
ConSite® is a unique technology of Hitachi Construction Machinery. It uses big data, including operational information of construction machinery accumulated over many years, and automatically analyzes, extracts, and provides information that is valuable for customers. This service was launched in 2013. In 2017, we launched a service for monitoring oil conditions using sensors, which is the first of its kind in the construction machinery industry.
We will continue to apply sensing technologies, AI technologies, and other technologies for predicting failures in construction machinery and achieving a 90% rate of detection for signs of trouble.

arw_r Service Solution ConSite®

Environmental initiatives

ZH200-6, the Third Generation Hybrid Hydraulic Excavator of Hitachi Construction Machinery

Construction machinery are capital goods of customers. Therefore, the mission of a construction machinery manufacturer is to develop machines with low fuel consumption without sacrificing operating performance and operability.
Since we launched a hybrid hydraulic excavator in 2011, our designers have continued to pursue improvements in the operability to permit intuitive operation and to increase the work rate of the machine while achieving low fuel consumption.
The ZH200-6, the third-generation hybrid hydraulic excavator, combines our proprietary technology with technology from open innovation. Our proprietary technology for the hydraulic system was combined with a hybrid unit technology from Toyota Industries Corporation, which the company cultivated in both the automotive field and the field of industrial vehicles. These two technologies are controlled in an integrated manner with a vehicle body controller. By optimally managing the mechanical power and electric power in accordance with the workload, the ZH200-6 has achieved 40% lower fuel consumption compared to that of the ZX200-3 as the benchmark while maintaining the operability.

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