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Business & Economy

Made in the North East: new Komatsu machine scoops awards

A market leading demolition machine fully designed, developed and manufactured in the North East is hitting new heights with customers and striding ahead of the opposition.

Komatsu UK’s award-winning PC490HRD is bringing down the house in the demolition sector, with the first machine sold before it was even off the production line, and the second scheduled for delivery to Europe before completion.

The new design also scooped honours at Komatsu’s “President’s Awards”.

The high-reach vehicle is unique to the European market and builds on the success of the sought-after PC490HRD-11. It features a fast-release, high-reach demolition work equipment boom and arm, eliminating the need for multiple machines in the demolition process, saving customers time, money and making sites safer. It also boasts the pioneering K100 system – a series of sensors and cameras that allow drivers to change the working equipment without leaving the cab.

The 76-tonne machine boasts a maximum reach of 32 metres, but its main benefit is the company’s new “rapid change” innovation that reduces downtime and increases safety when changing working equipment from the high-reach demolition to the traditional excavator version. It also offers six different machine configurations, with one extension work equipment boom offering maximum reach.

Director Rob Williams worked for Komatsu for over 30 years and was leader of the design engineering team that developed the new technology. He said: “Changing conventional high reach booms can take around 20 minutes, which is still quick, but involves a number of workers on site and an element of manual labour to secure connection, but this new innovation means it can all be done from the machine’s cab by the operator and what once took 20 minutes, is now a two minute task utilising the K-100 system.

“This is a real benefit for customers, not only are we removing all human health and safety risks from the process, but we are saving them precious downtime, which can really mount up when a machine is regularly operating between high-reach and excavating.”

Rob, who retired from KUK this year, was honoured with a Komatsu “President’s Award” for his achievements in design. Design Senior Manager, Stuart Blackham, also picked up a President’s Award on behalf of the design team responsible for developing the new PC490HRD.

Rob added: “It’s really nice to receive this recognition for my work and that of the team over the years. I have had the pleasure of working on some really exciting and interesting projects and this new machine is one of the stand-outs.

“The design team at Komatsu is fantastic and it has been a real pleasure to lead it over the past few years. The work they put in to secure this President’s Award is proof that I leave it in good hands.”

Stuart, who accepted the award on behalf of the whole team, said: “It’s a great honour for us to be recognised for our work on this high-reach project. The ultra-quick change boom is already causing real interest in the industry and I’m confident it will become one of our most sought after demolition machines.

“The fact that these machines are being designed, developed and manufactured here in the Birtley plant is a real testament to the talent we have here in the North East. Each time a new machine rolls off the production line, we’re setting an incredibly high bar for the next one we design, but we’re driven by continuous improvement and we’re all incredibly proud of the PC490HRD and this President’s Award.”

Komatsu has built its reputation on providing world-leading excavators, but its high-reach demolition models are proving a huge success for the Birtley firm, earning it recognition at the prestigious National Federation of Demolition Contractors (NFDC) awards in recent years.

Paul Blanchard, KUK Managing Director, said: “Komatsu does not rest on its laurels and the drive to push forward improvements and innovation, no matter how well our machines already perform, is what defines us.

“The design team speak to customers to find out what they require in a machine and then act on that guidance and insight. It’s really great to see their hard work and dedication being rewarded with this prestigious award.”

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