Hitachi launches new excavator range

By Sandy Guthrie08 February 2012

Hitachi's Zaxis medium excavators, which includes the 290-5, use a three-pump hydraulic system.

Hitachi's Zaxis medium excavators, which includes the 290-5, use a three-pump hydraulic system.

A reduction of up to 18% in fuel consumption is being claimed for Hitachi's new range of Zaxis medium and large hydraulic excavators, four of which are being launched by HCME - Hitachi Construction Machinery (Europe) - at April's Intermat show in Paris.

The machines incorporate a number of changes from the previous models, some of which have been imposed by regulations while some have been made to try to increase productivity and provide increased operator comfort.

The new excavators are powered by EU Stage IIIB-compliant Isuzu engines. HCME said that despite the decision to incorporate diesel particulate filter technology (DPF) to help meet the Stage IIIB regulations, the engine hood remained low and therefore did not block the operator's line of sight.

The new models are the 250-5, 290-5 and 350-5, which all now use a three-pump hydraulic system, plus the 470-5 which retains the two-pump system.

HCME said the three-pump system - known as Trias - was more suitable for the "more versatile" medium machines, as the flow of hydraulic oil led to more efficient movement of the excavator.

It said this was a particular advantage in Scandinavia because of the number of different attachments that were used there. And with an increasing demand for excavators to adapt to the needs of specific job sites and applications, Hitachi has developed an attachment support system for the medium models, with 11 modes that can be registered on the operator's monitor for the easy fitment of different attachments, and two auxiliary spools for attachments that require multiple, large volumes of oil flow.

There have been changes to the cabin, with more legroom for the operator and a repositioned door. It claims enhanced visibility to right and left, plus an improved rear-view camera which displays in a new multi-function LCD monitor. This monitor also provides a wide range of technical information, including an indication of the machine's status and settings.

HCME said that all major maintenance points were easy to find and made it easy to fit replacement consumable parts.

Bigger machine

The heavier 470-5 is regarded as different to the medium excavators in the range. Its role as a bigger production machine means it has a different engine and hydraulic system, although the cabin is the same as the medium models.

HCME said the type of work this machine was used for was not the same, and the three-pump system was less relevant.

The range of Zaxis-5 models has been developed by the Design Centre at Hitachi Construction Machinery Co (HCM) in Japan. Yusuke Kajita, general manager of HCM's Construction Equipment Development Centre, is responsible for the team of 200 engineers behind the new medium excavators (between 10 and 35 tonnes).

"We develop new machines, concepts and specifications in accordance with customer and market requirements," said Mr Kajita. "For example, the European market demands comfort, efficiency and controllability. I believe that the Zaxis-5 is even more suitable to European requirements than the Zaxis-3.

"The Zaxis-5 has better fuel efficiency, lower noise levels, excellent comfort and even iPod connectivity."

Fuel costs and total cost of ownership is considered to be key for HCME.

Paul Burger, general manager - international sales department, said, "It's all about fuel efficiency - more production and the same fuel. But the new emissions standards use more fuel, so if we can keep the fuel consumption at the same level as other machines, we'd be very happy.

"What we try to do is increase the output, to get more production, more tonnes per hour, for the same fuel use."

Mr Burger said that while sales can be made through presentations showing fuel reduction or fuel efficiency, it needed to be in the mindset of the operator to save money for his boss.

"I entered into a discussion where I said to the dealers, maybe you should promote with your customers to incentivise the operator when he works on a very low fuel rate per hour - to make the operator benefit from using less fuel because he doesn't pay the bills."

He added, "Of course, it's beneficial for us, but I still believe it is the dealer's obligation to work on that, not the manufacturer. We can assist, which we do, but the actual education has to be done locally by the dealers. Our dealer in Portugal does have operator training, and our dealer in Belgium has built a complete new college hall just to educate operators now on how to treat Stage IIIB engines."

HCME, which has two factories in the Netherlands - in Amsterdam and Oosterhout - will be celebrating its 40th anniversary later this year.

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