By Rachel Ori
How Contractors Can Benefit From Technology Enhancements
Today’s wheel loaders feature new technology that can enhance machine performance, uptime protection and operator productivity.
As wheel loader manufacturers move beyond Tier 4 advancements, these companies are investing in new models, machine features and technology. In recent years, manufacturers added new technologies, and these new features are a key selling point with customers.
For decades, wheel loaders have been a staple on construction jobsites for lifting and carrying dirt and debris, and loading trucks. That remains true for today’s jobsites; however, the machines have greater performance, visibility and precise joysticks — adding up to more productivity and operator satisfaction.
Wheel loader technology is constantly evolving, from improvements in the production of parts and attachments to automation to higher quality cameras, sensors and touch screens in the cab. There are also new attachment options available for enhanced productivity. Because of these technological changes, today’s wheel loaders offer more safety features and increased operator comfort.
Manufacturers have invested in technology updates in wheel loaders in the last couple of years. Read about a few of the most popular developments.
Engine, Fuel and Hydraulic Systems
To help reduce fuel consumption, sensors in the wheel loader’s diesel engine can now tell the fuel system how much diesel it requires based on engine load. The hydraulic system can communicate with the engine and optimize hydraulic oil flow to meet the demands of what an operator is lifting. Reduced fuel consumption directly impacts your company’s bottom line.
Fleet managers and contractors can more easily monitor their machines’ performance and fuel consumption with the help of telematics management systems. Whether they access it from a desktop computer or a smartphone, a plethora of data is available at their fingertips. Should any of the machine’s key systems experience an issue, owners and their equipment dealers can be alerted simultaneously. This shortens the time required to respond to issues and resolve them. For example, should a wheel loader experience a fault code, the machine alerts not only the operator but the owner and the dealer. The dealer can use a telematics system to see the fault code, the machine location and what parts the service technician may need to fix the issue. Telematics is also a useful tool for preventive maintenance, such as seeing when fluids and filters need to be changed.
An Eye Toward Automation
Wireless technology is continuously improving, paving the way for more advanced machine telematics, remote control and automation. Machine components can relay information to each other, as mentioned above with the hydraulic system and the engine, with a centralized control system. With these improvements, the construction industry is trending toward full equipment automation. Companies such as Doosan Infracore are already working toward increased machine automation through its Concept-X platform. Demonstrating it for the first time in November 2019, the company used technology to show autonomous construction equipment, including wheel loaders, working on a sample jobsite. Someday, common wheel loader tasks such as traditional V-shape loading patterns may be performed autonomously.
From larger windows to enhanced rear cameras, operator safety is at the forefront of wheel loader innovation. Operators can access the camera view from the conveniently located LCD monitor in the cab. Operators can leave the view on the monitor for situations that require working around other machines, people or obstacles.
Some manufacturers now offer sensors that alert the wheel loader operator when their machine may get too close to objects. An audible alert tells the wheel loader operator that they need to stop and assess their situation. This can reduce damage to the wheel loader as well as structures or other machines working in the area.
New Models Take the Spotlight
Doosan Infracore North America launched its new -7 Series wheel loaders earlier this year. The next-generation wheel loaders are available with standard and optional technology features that can boost machine performance. For example, the machine automatically adjusts the wheel loader’s engine output in real time to help save fuel.
Another new technology is the exclusive Doosan Transparent Bucket option, which can be retrofitted into existing wheel loader, and uses two cameras to provide visibility to previous blind spots. Using two cameras, one mounted on the frame and another on the cab, the system also features object detection. Operators can use the new option to enhance their visibility to the area in front of the wheel loader bucket, minimizing the risk of making contact with another object.
The new optional Doosan Smart Load weighing system is ideal for job applications that require accurate information about the weight of the material in the wheel loader bucket. All menus and settings are integrated in the Doosan Smart Touch screen.
Another emerging technology in wheel loaders is real-time operator feedback. A new feature called the Smart Guidance System tracks operators’ driving habits and provides personalized tips on the touch screen display for how they might improve their operating techniques.
Why These Technology Changes Are Occurring
Manufacturers make technology updates with the needs of customers and dealers in mind. It’s important for dealers to encourage their customers to offer feedback on their machines. If a want or a concern with a machine is never brought up, then how can it be addressed or modified?
Customers and dealers working in the construction industry are looking for ways to increase their productivity and machine uptime protection. As technology advances, it is incorporated into construction equipment like wheel loaders. It’s good for the customer, the dealer and the manufacturer — everybody wins.
The technological improvements being made are necessary not only for brands to set themselves apart from the competition, but for their own long-term success. A forward-thinking approach is key for permanence in the construction industry.
Rachel Ori, Strategic Communications, on behalf of Doosan Infracore North America LLC