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

Simulation Technology to Achieve Smart Product Development

Construction machinery is used for high-load work in a variety of environments around the world.
At Hitachi Construction Machinery, we have enabled quick and accurate evaluation in product development by integrating technologies for experimenting on prototypes of construction machinery with our simulation technology.
We will promptly provide customers with products featuring improved safety, durability and other properties, and enhanced performance.

Simulation Technology to Achieve Smart Product Development

Strength Analysis Using FEM

Strength analysis on the frame of the upper structure of a hydraulic excavator (evaluation of standalone component)

At Hitachi Construction Machinery, we have been utilizing strength analysis based on the Finite Element Method (FEM) for many years in our product development.
Rapid advancements in strength analysis technology mean it is now possible to perform more detailed and larger scale simulations.
We perform evaluations not only on standalone components, but also on multiple components assembled together, and this helps to improve the reliability of products.
The applications of FEM are also expanding to other fields, such as multi physics simulation, which analyzes two different physical phenomena based on their mutual interaction.

Figure. Strength analysis on the frame of the upper structure of a hydraulic excavator (evaluation of standalone component)

Strength analysis on a planetary reduction gear (evaluation of assembled state)

When conducting analysis with components assembled together, deformation may cause the gaps between components to disappear when a loaded, and this can cause the components to come into contact. Conducting simulations that including such contact requires special settings to fully reproduce its behavior, which increases the scale of analysis. We adopt High Performance Computing (HPC) technologies to enable such high-precision, high-speed analysis, and thereby contribute to the reduction of product development period.

Figure. Strength analysis on a planetary reduction gear (evaluation of assembled state)

Digital twin of ultra-large hydraulic excavator

We focus on analysis that uses digital twin technology to recreate real phenomena in cyberspace. In addition to using this technology in product development, we also use it to recreate the movements and loads placed on machinery in cyberspace based on operation data received from the machinery of our customers. This can help to  propose an appropriate maintenance schedule of machinery. By utilizing the analysis technology used in product development in our service business, we contribute to reducing lifecycle costs such as fuel consumption and maintenance.

Figure. Digital twin of ultra-large hydraulic excavator

Vibration Analysis Technology

Human behavioral analysis via motion capture

In order to improve operability and provide comfortable rides in various environments, we build technologies for analyzing vibration phenomena, and utilize those technologies in our product development process.
Adopting motion capture and motion analysis enables us to further improve technologies for analyzing the large displacement motion on the operator that is unique to construction machinery.

Figure. Human behavioral analysis via motion capture

Vibration analysis on the frame of the upper structure of a hydraulic excavator

In recent years, rapid computerization of construction machinery including ICT construction machinery has led to a diverse array of electronic devices being installed in vehicles. We utilize the vibration-resistant design technologies we have developed up until now to ensure vibration resistance and further improve the durability of such devices.

Figure. Vibration analysis on the frame of the upper structure of a hydraulic excavator
Left: Simulation results; Right: Actual measurement results

Ambient Noise Analysis Technology

Visualization of noise around a vehicle

Noise levels of construction machinery are subject to regulation, and in order to respond to such requirements, we perform analysis on the level of noise radiated by construction machinery and conduct evaluation prior to the development phase.
We also adopt noise visualization via the beam forming method as one method for measuring noise. Comparing the results of analyzing the sound pressure distribution around the vehicle with the results of actual measurement and analysis enables us to make more accurate evaluations.

Figure. Visualization of noise around a vehicle
Left: Simulation results; Right: Measurement results via beam forming method

Thermal Fluid Simulation Technology

Engine room cooling air simulation

The engine room of construction machinery reaches high temperatures due to the heat emitted during engine operation. That is why it is necessary to use cooling fans to lower the temperature of the heat exchanger and engine room via the intake of air. At Hitachi Construction Machinery, we perform thermal fluid simulation to confirm that sufficient air is being supplied into the heat exchanger and flowing to the required locations of the engine room.
Because cooling fans stop when the engine is stopped, the temperature of the engine room can continue rising, which may cause instruments to exceed their allowable temperature. We evaluate such phenomena in advance and use the information gained to make improvements in the position and size of air inlets.

Figure. Engine room cooling air simulation

Utilizing Virtual Reality (VR) Technology

Using VR technology to evaluate ease of maintenance

We use VR technology to conduct prior check on the assembly and maintenance of construction machinery at the development and design stage. This enables us to evaluate the ease of maintenance and component removal using full-scale tools in cyberspace. We will continue to adopt VR technology to develop and provide customers and service technicians with comfortable machinery that reduces fatigue when conducting maintenance.

Figure. Using VR technology to evaluate ease of maintenance

Technology Preview Movie

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.

Technology Preview Movie

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.

Technology Preview Movie

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.

→ News Releases

“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®)

Technology Preview Movie

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