Japanese innovations

29 April 2008

New diesel engine exhaust emission laws will come into force in Japan next month (October). These regulations are equivalent to the European Stage IIIA and US Tier 3 requirements for 130 to 560 kW engines that came in at the start of this year. As a result, many of the new machines on show at Conet in July were also seen in May at the Intermat exhibition in Paris, France.

But that is certainly not to say there was nothing new to see at Conet. Far from it. Because of the powerband affected, the new engine laws only apply to larger machines – excavators weighing 25 tonnes or more for example. As well as new equipment in these larger categories, exhibitors at Conet launched other new machines and several interesting models for special applications.

Demolition & recycling

One of the few up-beat areas of the Japanese domestic equipment market in recent years has been the demolition and recycling sector. The last Conet exhibition, held in 2003, saw both Hitachi and Kobelco launch 'high-reach' mini excavators, designed for the demolition of two-storey structures such as houses. By taking a standard zero tail-swing mini excavator and replacing the standard boom and stick with a three-piece assembly, these manufacturers produced machines with a compact footprint but useful vertical reaches of around 7 to 8 m or more.

New models on display at this July's Conet included Shin Caterpillar Mitsubishi's (SCM) modified 304C CR mini excavator. The unit's operating weight is 6.1 tonnes, compared to the 4.8 tonnes of the standard model, but the addition of a three-piece boom gives it a maximum pin height of 6.53 m. It was shown equipped with a hydraulic grapple, giving it a maximum working height of 7.88 m.

Hitachi exhibited a similar machine. It's modified ZX35U-2 weighs in at just 4.4 tonnes, but still offers a maximum working height of 7.55 m.

Hitachi also builds mobile crushers aimed solely at the Japanese C&D waste recycling market. Conet saw the company exhibit one of its larger models, the 29.8 tonne ZR950JC. This track-mounted unit has a 900 mm grizzly feeder, leading into a hydraulically adjusted jaw crusher.

Power comes from a 140 kW Isuzu diesel, and optional equipment includes side conveyors and an overband magnet to remove scrap from the main discharge belt. The overall length of the unit is 12.4 m, but the width has been kept down to 2.9 m to help with transportation.

Hitachi can also claim the prize for most innovative – or outlandish – machine on display at Conet. It showed a prototype crawler excavator fitted with two booms, which is designed for very precise selective demolition work.

The idea is that a grab on one of the booms is used to hold and steady a structural element, while shears on the second boom are used to cut it. As well as demolition work, Hitachi thinks the machine will also find use in clean-up and recovery work following natural disasters.

Komatsu's stand featured a modified PC220LC-8 crawler excavator that had been adapted for handling and sorting ferrous metals. Key changes to the 22 tonne unit included an elevating cab, a 9.98 m horizontal reach boom and stick set, and a 15 kVA genset used to power an elector-magnet.

Meanwhile Sumitomo exhibited a standard 20 tonne excavator fitted with its own 'Guzzilla' multi-purpose demolition cutter. The 2.41 tonne attachment has a maximum jaw opening of 1 m and delivers 93 tonnes of cutting force at the tips. The inner part of the jaw is fitted with a section of replaceable steel cutting jaws, and here a maximum pressure of 132 tonnes can be applied to metal elements up to 160 mm wide.

Kobelco also exhibited new models at Conet. The company launched new 20 and 33 tonne crawler excavators, the SK200 and SK330, alongside the SK125W, a 12 tonne class wheeled excavator. The crawler machines are available in Europe under CNH's New Holland brand.

Moving out?

Like the previous edition of the show, Conet 2006 showcased some interesting, innovative and downright unusual construction machines. The question is will they ever make it beyond Japan's shores?

The 2003 show was notable for the launch of the 'high reach' compact excavator concept, but as far as iC is aware, these machines are still only available in Japan three years on. Finding the market for a new machine is never easy, but such equipment could definitely fill a gap on urban demolition sites around the world.

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