Earthmoving Report: Komatsu WA480-6 Wheel Loader

By Andrew Baltazar, Associate Editor | September 28, 2010
Earthmoving Report: Komatsu WA480-6 Wheel Loader

Earlier this year, John Deere introduced its K-Series wheel loaders featuring a high-capacity torque converter with optional lock-up transmission for optimum fuel efficiency and better performance. Komatsu is also looking to achieve similar performance gains and fuel savings in its WA480-6 wheel loader — new to the North American market — which, like Deere's offerings, is aided by a newly designed large-capacity torque converter with optional lock-up functionality.

Sporting a 299-horsepower Tier-3 engine, Komatsu's wheel loader, part of the new Dash-6 series, comes in at an operating weight of 55,290 to 56,340 pounds. It can reach a maximum speed of 22.6 miles per hour in fourth gear.

The torque converter helps the wheel loader to accelerate and climb hills with ease, Komatsu says. It also increases productivity in V-cycle applications, makes gear shifting quick and smooth, and enables operation in higher gear ranges for higher ground speeds when working in load-and-carry or hopper feed applications.

To conserve fuel, a closed-center load sensing system uses two operating modes: E mode provides maximum fuel efficiency for general loading; P mode outputs more power for hard digging.

With the optional lock-up transmission, the WA480-6 gets even more production efficiency, reduced cycle times, and better fuel savings, according to Komatsu.

Equipped with an automatic transmission with electronically controlled modulation valve, the WA480-6 automatically sets the appropriate gear based on operating conditions such as travel and engine speed. With the flip of the kick-down switch, the transmission can downshift from second to first gear when beginning the digging cycle, and functions as a power-up switch when the loader is already in first gear or economy mode.

In addition to enhancements in performance and fuel efficiency, Komatsu says it developed a more comfortable working environment for the operator. The enlarged cab has a wide pillar-less flat glass for better front visibility, low-noise design of 72 decibels, and a modified layout that places levers in more reachable positions. The steering column tilts and telescopes, and the two-spoke steering wheel prevents obstruction between the operator and both the monitor panel and outside work environment.

Standard on the WA480-6 is Komatsu's Komtrax technology, which collects vital machine operating data, such as working hours, fuel consumption and location, and sends them wirelessly to a secure Web site for maintenance analysis.

Key Specifications
Engine Komatsu SAA6D125E-5
Horsepower 299 net horsepower
Operating Weight 55,920 to 56,340 pounds
Dumping Clearance 10' 6" with 6-cubic-yard bucket