Long-term Komatsu customer Stephen McPherson has made a big investment in the company’s new intelligent Machine Control (iMC) technology, buying three of the machines – and has found he’s quickly getting a payback on his investment
In November 2017, McPherson took delivery of two PC210LCi-10 iMC excavators, joined by a D51EXi-23 iMC dozer which he imported in December.
His company McPherson Contractors is based at Matamata and carries out civil engineering and bulk earthworks as well as rural development and maintenance works throughout the greater Waikato area, and out as far as Tauranga, Whakatane, Taupo, Rotorua and the Western Bays.
McPherson bought his first Komatsu machine – a PC150 swamp excavator – around 1990 and has been buying the brand ever since.
Today, his Komatsu fleet, in addition to his new iMC machines, includes one D65-15 and two D85-15 dozers, plus a number of Komatsu excavators: a PC130-8, a PC200-7 and PC200LC-8 long reach, two PC200-8 conventional, a PC300-7 and an HB335LC-1 Hybrid.
So far, he’s used his iMC machines on a variety of civil construction projects in residential and commercial building sites, primarily for the final trim works.
“We use the bigger gear such as scrapers for the bulk earthworks, then the iMC excavators or the dozer move in and do the final trim,” said McPherson.
“Of course they can be used as conventional machines, but the iMC really comes into its own in final trim work, as it’s just so fast and accurate.
“We get the design plan in the format we can use with the machines, we put that in, calibrate our work with no need for pegs, then we run it all off the network or total station, using our own rovers and total stations.
“We use the final trim capabilities on the excavators for our benching, terracing, driveways, road formation and shaping, and services dig out.
“The dozer has much the same capabilities, and we use it for the likes of larger areas, such as commercial sites or bigger housing developments, horse arenas and pond construction.
“It really excels, because it can pick up a couple of points, dial up the grade we want between the points, and then go ahead and shape to the design without any other input or information,” he says.
McPherson has been using “bolt on” machine control systems for a number of years but finds the integrated Komatsu iMC system a real step up.
“This integrated system gives you far better control, none of the components are exposed to the elements, and its additional features cut out any over-digging or under-digging – plus it’s all automated.
“When we heard about this technology, we approached Komatsu about buying these machines. We like to keep an eye out for new technology developments – I find if you walk around with your eyes and ears open, you get a good feel for the technology coming to your industry,” he says.
“Now with iMC, when we go to a site, we are completely independent. We don’t need to wait for surveyors; we can do everything ourselves, all from the cab with our operators. It makes us way better off.
“We do the work on a site, then as a contractual requirement, the work is as-builted independently by an outside survey; to this point, we haven’t missed any design parameters – we are getting the accuracy we need, and our clients are benefiting from our efficiencies.
“While it’s still a bit early to put numbers on the true benefits we are getting, because there’s so many factors, including operator capabilities, our understanding of the machine capabilities, ground conditions and so on,” McPherson says.
“Until we have a season or two under our belts, we can’t quite say.
“But just in time alone, we are making significant savings with the iMC technology; it gets you through the job a lot faster.”
McPherson also believes that this new technology has the potential to attract new operators to the industry.
“I think another thing the industry should take into consideration with all this new technology and nice gear that we have now is that it’s a really exciting career option for someone to join and be a part of.
“It is a real attraction to some people who wouldn’t otherwise think about coming into this industry, and that all adds to an environment which is conducive to getting good people.
“That’s a real positive for us, in addition to the other advantages of this technology in how we can do our work more quickly and efficiently,” he said.
For more information contact:
Komatsu National Aftermarket Marketing Manager, NZ
Tel (09) 969 6704