Our innovative processes afford us the ability to consistently conceive valuable ideas in multiple fields, such as environmental design and economic efficiency. Out of these areas, the one which we consider to be of the most importance is that of “Safety”.
From providing safe products to the overall safety of our automatic operational systems, we persistently utilize the full scope of our innovation capabilities to find ways in which safety is used to maximize the value of our products to our customers.
The provision of profoundly safe products is the most important responsibility of any manufacturer. With that in mind, we strive to exceed what is expected of us by going above and beyond the call of duty. On top of meeting all international standards and regulations, we supplement our products with additional safety features that remain unsurpassed by our competitors.
This commitment, compounded with our innovative drive for safety improvement, also allows our customers to achieve the consummate climate of safety within their operations.
In 2013 and 2014, Komatsu introduced the ICT Bulldozer and ICT Hydraulic Excavator respectively, an innovation that made possible the automatic control of blades and buckets. These systems by-pass the need for manual experience, allowing even fresh or less-experienced workers to perfectly reproduce the same high-level precision construction work of a skilled worker. This has eliminated the past need for ancillary workers and guiding processes, thus enabling our customers to make huge savings on labor costs and improving general safety.
The pinnacle of our safety innovations has birthed a fully automated operational system, known as the Autonomous Haulage System (AHS). This ingenious system has been fully-established in certain major mines in Australia and Chile, which involves the unmanned operation of giant dump trucks that carry over 300 tons of soil and minerals. The mine is an often harsh environment which requires constant vigilance and safety protocols, having multiple construction machines and vehicles that operate around the clock on a 24 hour basis. The AHS system utilizes cutting-edge technologies like satellite communication and various radars and sensors to create a useful system that meets this need in its entirety, responding to the diverse nature of our customer's safety requirements.
Despite these significant achievements, we are fully aware that there is always room for amelioration. We will continue to innovate and improve, furthering the evolution of such safety systems in order to realize the optimal safety environment that our customers require in their respective sites of operation.
Komatsu regards forestry as an important indurstry that contributes towards the achievement of the SDGs. In forestry, it is important to contribute to realizing woodland management cycle of planting, cultivating and felling forests, and it is required to operate in a way that places due consideration on forest environments. Also, forestry poses challenges in terms of ensuring worker safety while heightening efficiency, given the industry’s high rate of occupational accidents. Komatsu is promoting the visualization of the supply chain through the use of IoT and the provision of products in order to contribute to innovation in cyclical forestry.
In the realm of afforestation, we developed the automated tree planter, which is based on our D61 bulldozer, and rolled it out in the Brazilian market in December 2019. Capable of planting 900 trees per hour, the automated tree planter cuts labor hours by approximately 70% and makes it possible to mechanize the task of planting trees, otherwise done manually often in hot weather. The automated tree planter will also most likely contribute to sustainable development of Brazilian forestry, particularly given that it will streamline future plans for timber felling by making it possible to keep a record of where trees have been planted.
Moreover, in the area of timber felling and transport operations where most forestry-related occupational accidents tend to occur, we are making progress in developing and selling forestry equipment that enables harvesters to fell and transport timber located on hillsides without people having to descend to the forest floor. When it comes to equipment for felling and transporting timber within woodlands, we have developed an eight-wheel harvester which exerts lower ground pressure, thereby averting the possibility damaging tree roots.
We have furthermore been working on a smart-forestry concept that makes it possible to visually monitor forestry supply chains. In Japan, we have been using drones to conduct tree planting and growth management surveys including forestry resource quantity estimates. This has enabled us to reduce the labor hours needed for surveys for felling from around five people per hectare per day to one person per hectare per day. Moreover, by using ICT-equipped harvesters for processing and sorting logs, we have been able to reduce the labor hours needed from about 13 people per hectare per day to about 0.5 people per hectare per day. We are also focusing our efforts on developing applications that are capable of drawing on accumulated log processing and timber transport data of the LANDLOG open platform. We will furthermore contribute to streamlining operations in the future by sharing information with forestry business operators on lumber markets as well as lumber consumers.
Going forward, we hope to help promote cyclical forestry around the world by facilitating further safety and productivity improvements in forestry.