Interview with Designers of the Mid-Size Excavators
The “Made by HITACHI” global quality standard, produced at the “Mother Design Factory” in Tsuchiura City, Japan.
The ZAXIS-3 series are global standard machines with world-class environmentally friendly, and evolutionary performance.
In a survey done by a European construction machinery magazine, the ZAXIS-3 series won “No.1” in both the fuel efficiency and the workload divisions. As a result the ZAXIS-3 series is developing a solid reputation all over the world. Here is an interview with the designers who got together in order to create the high standards.
——The “Basic Performance” of ZAXIS-3 series went through a big evolution.
Development Design Center General Manager
Our goal for the new line of ZAXIS was to implement “A Global Machine.” What the world market wants, in other words, what users all over the world commonly wanted in excavators is nothing less than the “improvement of basic performance”. Increased horsepower, durability, smooth compound motion, and raising the payload with quick front motion were all requested features. On the other hand, fuel efficiency also needed to be improved…
The ZAXIS-3 series is the result of the progress made in all the basic performance standards. We were also concerned about environmental performance in order that the ZAXIS-3 series would comply with the third generation of Japan-US-EU emission control standards.
PDI head office Senior Technician
To discover the standard of basic performance needed, extensive surveys were done all over the world before development even started. The chief designer traveled to more than 30 countries over 2 years, mainly in Europe, North America and Asia, to collect detailed information regarding the kind of work and field conditions for which excavators are used. He also evaluated present machinery. By finding both common features and differences, depending on location, we settled on a basic design, a global machine.
——I heard that the design & development division in the Tsuchiura factory underwent a major restructuring for this project.
Determining that the “Improvement of Basic Performance” was a requirement in order to maintain the uniformity of design in all the classes of mid-size excavator series, ZX70 to ZX330, we established a system which allowed the parts designers to communicate with all the teams responsible for designing each class and across classes. As a result, an efficient system using common parts was established, enabling the more than 200 staff in Tsuchiura related to mid-size excavator development to share various kinds of information, such as requests from the field from all over the world to reflect product design.
Paint inspection process
All of the lines are under very strict quality control.
The keyword used as a common focus was “Where QUALITY meets ABILITY”. It is also a slogan used for the domestic promotion of the ZAXIS-3 and ZW series of wheel loader.
The origin is based on the slogan, “Our Scrupulous Attention to Detail Will Lead to High Quality” and is applied to all product development. Because there was not enough brand unity in product development, we also saw a need to combine the development of the over-arching idea, “Made by HITACHI”.
——All the basics were “created” in the Tsuchiura factory.
The production line of ZAXIS-3 series inside the Tsuchiura factory; also known as the “Mother Design Factory of the world”.
Yes. We designated the Tsuchiura factory as the “Mother Design Factory” from the beginning of the ZAXIS-3 series development. Previously, products with local specifications were designed at local factories. Local dealers were also sometimes required to make modifications. Now, all the specifications are designed here. The main parts, such as hydraulic pumps or engines, are sent from Japan to other parts of the world.
——The hydraulic system and engine were both completely redesigned with the latest technology in the ZAXIS-3 series.
We have developed “Core” technology to maintain a good balance for increased workloads using the efficient control of engine rpm, torque, and hydraulic pressure and at the same time lowering fuel consumption. The redesign of technologies made the tuning of hydraulic controls and engine optimi/asia/tion more complicated. However, we did a number of trials trying to determine an “excavator best practice” and were able to find a match. Installing the “New E mode” realizes a powerful but fuel-efficient machine. We also installed a new swing mechanism and upgraded swing torque. The advanced technology of efficient hydraulic pressure such as “Enhanced Excavation System” and “New Type Boom Recovery System” enables the arm to move faster. Know-how that HITACHI accumulated over the years during the development of the hydraulic excavator was optimized to find these “Answers”.
As a result, the ZAXIS-3 series not only has enhanced basic operability which increases workload, it also has an electronic control system installed to follow-up various kinds of operations before the operator even notices.
——About the engine, you have been building partnerships with engine makers such as Isuzu for many years.
We spent almost 4 years developing the optimal engine for the ZAXIS-3 series with frequent meetings and utilizing requests and information from the field. We made a little over 30 prototype engines. Twenty-five of the units were installed into test machines to performed demonstration tests. Ten of the 25 units performed demonstrations in the U.S. Europe, China, Australia, Asia and Africa to confirm that the “Global Machine” could be used all over the world. We have done tests abroad at development stages before, but the number of machines performing demonstrations this time was overwhelming. Even the number of Isuzu’s demonstrations abroad for their trucks was less. Domestic demonstration also made me realize that a machine that satisfies our Japanese customers can also satisfy the “Global Standard.” Japanese are the most demanding customers in the world.
As far as the engine goes, I think there is merit in building trusting relationships with companies that have technical engine design knowledge and having them develop what we want with their know-how. That leaves us to concentrate on the development of hydraulic pressure and electronic controls. The engine is one of the major parts but still just “a part.” “The birth of a good engine” is not equal to “the birth of a good excavator.” The key to advancing the hydraulic excavator was primarily due to the evolution and development of other technologies rather than just a better engine design.
——Since the ZAXIS-3 debuted, it has been getting great reviews from all over the world.
The performance assessment article of the top 10 producers in the 20t hydraulic excavators class by “Bouw Machines,” a construction machinery specialty magazine published in Holland. The ZX210-3 won first prize in both workload and fuel efficiency.
Last year, the year it debuted, a specialty construction machinery magazine in Holland conducted a survey of performance of the 20t class hydraulic excavators from the 10 major producers in the world. The results published in the magazine gave the ZX210-3 first prize in both the workload and fuel efficiency divisions. This means, the independent organi/asia/tion proved, that the ZAXIS-3 series is more advanced than our competitors’ machines. I believe customers that haven’t tried the ZAXIS-3 series should do so. Of course the main features of the ZAXIS-3 series are not only increased workload and fuel efficiency. The comfort of the operator, a wide field of view, various kinds of information indicated on multi functional monitors, improved safety with a 2.5 times stronger cab (ZX200-3), increased endurance with a stronger underbody, easy maintenance with a central layout of equipment, and environmental efficiency… I believe we had made differentiation easy to see with “just a ride” or “just a try.” It is very easy to see the differences between the ZAXIS-3 series and the others.
The ZAXIS-3 series received the “Good design award” of 2006.
This award judged function, quality, safety and environmental efficiency, as well as exterior design. The ZAXIS-3 series also received the German “iF design award” in 2007. This award includes industrial goods from all over the world.
Here in Tsuchiura, we collect the operation information of hydraulic excavators from all over the world and analyze them to assess machine conditions. The e-Service Owner’s site makes the distance between the designers and customers much closer, allowing us to share machine information with dealers, customers and our internal group, the production team, as well as performing remote maintenance.
The trusted relationship built up by listening to customers over many years, as well as technical innovation contributed to a high level of customer satisfaction. For example, from customers in Europe who purchased ZAXIS-3 series in 2003 or later, we start getting requests saying “Please put a big HITACHI logo on the tail counter weight.” Normally, this is a space reserved for the name of the customer’s company. This kind of request verifies that customers are enjoying a great deal of satisfaction with HITACHI products. Upon delivery foreign customers often ask of the ZAXIS-3 series “Is it made in Japan?” Meaning “Was the machine completed in Japan?” The main parts are sent from Japan but assembly is done in the closest local factory, shortening the delivery period and cutting the physical distribution cost. So, they are not exactly made in Japan. But whichever factory an excavator is assembled, all of our products were developed and designed in the “Mother Design Factory” in Tsuchiura. Our quality control is thorough and ensured. If somebody now asks us, our answer is “This is made by HITACHI.”