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UKs first Kobelco semi-automatic excavator

by Kyle Molyneux  |  Fri 24 Sep 2021

UKs first Kobelco semi-automatic excavator

Xwatch has recently installed its XW4 height & slew restrictor system to Plantforce Rentals’ state-of-the-art Kobelco SK210LC, fitted with Leica semi-automatic GPS machine control and an SMP ST22 tilt-rotator – a UK first.

Plantforce Rentals took delivery of the 22.1-tonne Kobelco machine in the winter of 2020, following a three-day build and a collaboration with, Leica Geosystems and SMP Parts – the machine was ready for testing on a Bam Nuttall civil engineering site on the south coast of England. 

The software platform MC1 offers a common interface for all Leica Geosystems machine control solutions. The new semi-automatic functionality for Leica iXE3 excavator machine control solutions help the operator by automating the movement of the boom, bucket, tilt-bucket and tilt-rotator functions, which is said to make the operator’s work more simple.

This unique system automatically controls boom, bucket angle, tilt angle, and rotation angle precisely to the construction surface with just one single movement of the control lever. What’s of particular note, with the current skills gap, is that the all-in-one machine control system is easy to use and works well even for less skilled operators. Within machine control this is a UK first. There are similar systems in development, however these systems have only managed to get the boom and bucket working or just the tilt rotator – not all three together. 

This machine will be heading off to work on HS2 in the not too distant future and as with the majority of the high profile infrastructure projects ‘safety is key’ and plant, people interface management is a crucial part of a safe site.

Plantforce Rentals has worked with Xwatch, which manufactures a range of safety solutions for plant, since the brand was established back in 2019 and has found the systems reliable, intuitive with an easy to use interface, and are compatible with telematics, GPS and proximity warning systems, such as SiteZone RFID and Blaxtair Camera. Plantforce approached Xwatch to install its XW4 height and slew limiter to its already technologically advanced Kobelco SK10LC, to ensure the machine was fully compliant for major infrastructure projects.

The XW4 monitors a machine’s height and slew movement and has been designed to accurately restrict movement using ‘feather touch’ proportional hydraulic control. An operator can manage the machine’s height and both left and right slew parameters which ensure the operator and machine safety also the environment around the machines. The Xwatch system can be retrofitted to any make or class of excavator. Xwatch is also the only solution with Network Rail Product Acceptance Approval.

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