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With growth and local penchant for orange, Hitachi has begun to leverage this opportunity across other machines that they manufacture including the highly regarded range of Hitachi ZW-5 Series Wheel Loaders.

Recognised as a mining digger of choice in Australia, Hitachi has developed a venerable reputation for their orange excavators. In recent years this standing has extended to their mining dump trucks with the exponential take up of their AC drive haulers. 

Albeit not the complete mining range of Komatsu and Caterpillar, Hitachi’s line-up of loaders is big enough to garner interest for quarries, the agriculture industry as well as many mine site applications. 

Ranging in size from 2 tonne through to 47 tonnes (think top end size somewhere between Cat’s 980 to 988-wheel loaders), Hitachi’s wheel loaders haven’t always been orange.

In 2010 the then Kawasaki Construction Machinery (KCM) entered into a joint venture with Hitachi to aid in the development of Tier 4 final (more environmentally friendly) loaders for the North American market.

In 2015 Hitachi purchased Kawasaki Construction Machinery as a 100% owned subsidiary, resulting in Hitachi becoming the third largest heavy equipment manufacturer in the world after Caterpillar and Komatsu. Considered a small division in Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Hitachi’s acquisition of Kawasaki Construction Machinery proved a big deal for the well-regarded loader division, supercharging the groups knowledge and know-how with a larger parent intent on growing its range and geographical footprint.

Beyond aesthetics, there’s a lot to like about Hitachi’s Dash-5 series of wheel loaders. These machines are quiet, comfortable and fast on the ground with good torque and power. 

A quick look at Hitachi’s jewel of the fleet, the ZW550-5 Wheel Loader, reveals a host of features that include traction control and a quick power switch that provides the operator rapid access to extra power as well as an instant increase in engine RPM to add breakout force for digging into heavy piles or when climbing steep grades with a full bucket without (importantly) limiting the loader’s top speed. 

Albeit still with a steering wheel, the Dash-6 Series now available in North America gives insight of things to come for the Australian market with a steering joystick providing greater operator visibility. Powered by a six-cylinder direct injection Isuzu diesel engine, this loader is well suited to handling tough rock as well as high volumes of soil and fill and depending upon lifting configuration, offers bucket capacities up to 7.2 cu m.

With a sprinkling of machines already operating on mine sites in the Valley, Hitachi’s loaders are (excuse the pun) a quiet achiever. While unlikely to impact Cat and Komatsu’s dominance on a meaningful scale, Hitachi’s loaders are a compelling proposition that can confidently mix it up with the industry’s leading brands that include Volvo, Cat, Komatsu and Liebherr.

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Biggest Earthmover Ever



Albeit getting a little long in the tooth (sorry, couldn’t help myself…), The Tiger 690 was the epitome of innovation for heavy earthmoving and mining in the early 80s.

Born out of Western Australia, Tiger Engineering Pty Ltd developed this machine at the request of BHP Iron Ore for use at its Mt Whaleback operation. With the support of Caterpillar Industrial Products, Inc and under the watchful eye of Caterpillar, Inc, this was the markets first large rubber tire wheel dozer produced on a commercial scale.

Launched in 1981 as the Tiger 690A Wheel Dozer, Tiger Engineering manufactured approximately 150 of these machines. Models included the 690B launched in 1985, 690D in 1993 and 790G in 1996 before being rebranded as the 854G when acquired by Caterpillar in 1997. A pioneer of its category, these wheel dozers can still be found operating today mostly with our farmers.

Highly versatile, the Tiger 690 was popular among miners in the Valley. As a utility machine, these wheel dozers were highly effective in completing clean up work around mining shovels providing operators high-speed mobility mixed with operational flexibility.

Hailing from the Cat 992C Wheel Loader, they were fitted with a front-end conversion kit that included a solid push beam, heavy duty push arms, new hydraulic system, lock-up torque converter and (in the early models), single hydraulic cylinder to raise and lower the blade.

Sporting a 3412 turbocharged, aftercooled, V12 diesel engine, the 690 flywheel horsepower it produced was also ultimately, the namesake of the machine. Like a conventional dozer, SU, Coal U and Straight blade options were available with capacities that ranged between 18.66m3 through to 38.23m3.

Over time, a noteworthy upgrade included the replacement of the standard 992C torque converter in the 690B with a unit pulled from the 773B offroad truck. This change significantly increased the wheel dozers overall working abilities and measurably improved the reliability of the machine.

It wasn’t however, until 1993 following the introduction of Cat’s 992D that the Tiger 690 came into its own. Incorporating Cat’s STIC joystick steering systems as well as the front blade and hydraulic system based on the D10N tractor, the Tiger 690D proved a hit among miners and sales increased significantly.

In 1996/97 Tiger released the lesser known 790G. Blessed with a 3508B powerplant and front-end based upon the new D11R dozer, its release followed the launch of the 992G. In 1997 however it was rebranded as the 854G when Cat moved to acquire the property rights of Tiger. Despite being a heavier and more powerful wheel dozer with greater blade capacities, the Caterpillar 854K Wheel Dozer’s heritage lies with Tiger. A symbiotic relationship, Tiger Engineering’s partnership with Cat produced a machine that has stood the test of time, with these wheel dozers found the world over.

Thanks to Components Only, our heavy equipment experts.

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Time for New Tech



Climate Solution funds may be used for cleaner coal and low emissions technologies with the release of the King Review and the Technology Investment Roadmap opening up new opportunities.

In October 2019, the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor asked an Expert Panel, chaired by former Business Council of Australia president Grant King, to find new ways to cut emissions while supporting the economy, businesses and households.

The findings of the King Review have now been released with recommendations for taxpayer-supported funds like the $2 billion Climate Solutions Fund, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to be opened up to provide funding for low emissions technology.

The King Review recommends pushing broader voluntary emissions reduction through incentives to boost private co-investment, driving down the costs of transformative technology while speeding up the adoption of new technologies.

This approach puts the Government’s ‘technology not taxes’ policy into action, along with the Technology Investment Roadmap released shortly after the Review.

The Roadmap paper aims at reducing emissions in Australia through a sensible and systematic approach based on current and future low emissions technologies which offer the best prospects for Australia.

Minister Taylor said the Government will look to deploy the $2 billion Climate Solutions Fund to support Australian farmers, businesses and communities to adopt new technologies that reduce emissions and increase efficiency and productivity.

“The Government will target dollar for dollar co-investment from the private sector and other levels of government to drive at least $4 billion of investment that will reduce emissions across Australia,” Minister Taylor said.

The Minerals Council of Australia is among those welcoming the King Review and the new Roadmap, outlining their ability to provide a clear path for reducing emissions while ensuring Australia’s core industries such as mining and minerals processing remain internationally competitive.

“The King Review and the government’s response provides a strong platform to fast-track the development and deployment of low cost abatement technologies including carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS), greater use of electric vehicles and advances in minerals processing which could significantly lower Australia’s emissions and help meet Paris Agreement goals more quickly at lower cost,” said MCA CEO Tania Constable.

NSW Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee said they see it as a step in the right direction. “It’s good that the Commonwealth Government is taking a technology-neutral approach to emissions reduction and is broadening its emissions reduction funding programs to include carbon capture and storage. As the International Energy Agency, the International Panel on Climate Change, and governments such as Norway, Germany and the UK recognise, this is going to be a vital piece of the puzzle in achieving cuts to greenhouse gas emissions and it needs to be part of the solution,” he said.

Australia’s coal industry’s low emission technology fund COAL21 is also supporting the technology neutral direction the government is taking.  

COAL21 CEO Mark McCallum said the review and the Government’s response provided welcome clarity for industry to make investment decisions and would see a step-change in Australia’s efforts to install low emission technologies critical to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement.

“The Government has spoken previously about a technology-neutral approach and I’m happy to see that position reflected in its response to the King Review,” said Mr McCallum.

“Unfortunately, the discussion in Australia has too often dismissed technologies like Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), because the focus – incorrectly – is on energy source rather than emission reduction outcomes.

“All available and proven technologies must be at the forefront of measures to reduce and remove carbon dioxide from large-scale emissions processes such as power generation, mining, processing and manufacturing.”

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Biggest Earthmover Ever



When it comes to the land of large front-end wheel loaders, the ruler of this category is Komatsu Mining Corp. 

Following their acquisition of Joy Global in 2017, Komatsu has amassed an impressive array of mechanical and electric drive loader options that include their electrically driven P&H L-1350, L-1850 and L-2350 loaders and mechanical WA1200-6. 

With payload capacities ranging from 40,823kg through to 72,574kg, Komatsu offers miners loading solutions for the full suite of today’s mining haul trucks. In the ever-increasing world of ultra-class machines, Komatsu has a distinct leg up on their competition. 

Long before the successive line of acquisitions, the LeTourneau brand was synonymous for innovation. 

Established in the 1920’s it amassed hundreds of patents incorporating technologies such as low-pressure, heavy-duty rubber tyres and electric wheel drive motors long before their competitors. So high was the quality of their machines, that during World War II LeTourneau factories supplied 70% of all heavy earthmoving equipment used by Allied Forces. 

Taking the world by storm in 2000 at the World Mine Expo in Las Vegas, it wasn’t until 2007 that the L-2350 debuted in Australia at CITIC Pacific’s Sino Iron Ore Project in the West. 

Matched with Terex’s Unit Rig MT6300 (nee Cat 798 AC) this unit was able to load the 363t trucks in just over three minutes and five passes. Available in Standard Lift, High Lift and Super High Lift configurations the L-2350 is capable of lifting a whopping 72,574kg payload when fitted with a 40.52m3bucket and today can be optioned with the MTU Detroit’s 16V 4000 or Cummins QSK60 engine. 

Holding the Guinness World Record for the ‘Biggest Ever Earthmover’, the L-2350, sadly, will never be ‘mass’ marketed. 

With only the largest of mines capable of operating such machines, the upside potential of this loader will always be constrained. It does however, hold a loyal following and in 2018 and 2019 maintained a consistent supply of orders. 

How long it remains under the P&H marque before being completely absorbed under Komatsu Mining’s brand is yet to be seen. Regardless, one can only imagine that the electric drive technology will be maintained, if not, advanced in today’s age of technology.


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