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UK’s first Kobelco semi-automatic excavator has the X-Factor

UK’s first Kobelco semi-automatic excavator has the X-Factor!

Xwatch have 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 makes 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,I these systems have only managed to get the boom and bucket working or just the tilt rotator – not all three together. So, a true revolution.

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 have worked with Xwatch, who manufacture 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.

Dan Leaney, Xwatch director of sales and operations said, “Xwatch units have already been fitted tested and approved to work on some of the largest infrastructure projects going on in the UK and many of the clients are now specifying Xwatch as their approved supplier of safety systems. The partnership with Plantforce and Xwatch is the perfect fit as ‘safety’ is our number one priority.”

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.

Plantforce digital manager, Dale Hawkins said, “We are particularly proud that we were the first plant hire company in the UK to use the Leica fitted semi-automatic excavator. At Plantforce we pride ourselves as being innovators in our field, providing the very latest machine technology to our customers, including tier one contractors on key infrastructure projects.

We have preferred partners who we choose to work with and Xwatch falls into this category – the synergy between our two organisations works very well. This combined with a reliable, easy-to-use system and an excellent after-sales service is why we have the confidence in Xwatch products to enhance our commitment to safety.”

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