I had tried in vain to get some “stick time” on the latest Dash 9 Hyundai machine’s since I saw them at the launch in Germany back in 2010. However, thanks to Bristol based Hyundai dealership, the Molson Group and MJL Contractors Ltd, who were evaluating the machine with a view to a future purchase, I recently got to spend a day in the R140-9 demonstrator model on a site in Looe, Cornwall.
The machine arrived and I was immediately thrown in at the deep end as the low loader driver asked me to take the machine off for him. The low loader was facing downhill on a camber and it was raining so I figured it could be an interesting dismount. I was pleasantly surprised, and indeed somewhat relieved, with the smoothness and controllability of the tracking controls, and with minimal slippage on the wet bed of the trailer, I was soon on terra-firma.
I then familiarized myself with the cab and quickly found out that this was going to be a very pleasant place to spend a shift in. The major focal point in the cab is the dashboard cluster which is described as the nerve centre of the machine, complete with its multi-function 13cm (5 inch) colour screen and toggle switch.
By using this dynamic control centre the operator can access a wide choice of functions and checks, select power and work modes, check on maintenance status and even access instant diagnostics. By further accessing the menu, the operator can also fine tune and customise the machine to suit his own operating style, by either speeding up or slowing down the boom and dipper arm operations.
The cab is fully loaded with creature comforts for the operator with a stylish suspension seat, and fully adjustable arm rests and joysticks. A fully automatic air conditioning system further enhances the operating experience, as does the inclusion of a built in radio/MP3 player and the facility to connect your mobile phone to the system to enable hands free calling. All radio/MP3 and phone call functions are operated from a remote panel to the operator’s right hand side. The inclusion of a USB port also makes it possible for the operator to watch movies or view photos during break times through the LCD screen!
I put the machine to work on a massive spoil stockpile which has been formed from the excavated material from the road and drainage works on the site so far, levelling off and forming a safety bund around the top to prevent dumpers going off the edge. There are 3 work modes including economy, standard and power, like most operators from the old school I always tend to opt for the full power mode. The machine was very fast and incredibly smooth in operation. I found it to have plenty of digging and pushing power when levelling out the dumped material and if the load became heavy I found a quick press on the power boost button gave the machine that extra bit of power.
The machine was also very nice to grade with, which is of course one of the most important features on any excavator, and in my opinion can make or a break a machines success. The boom/arm movement remained fluid right through the entire stroke with no sign of cavitation. This demonstration model was fitted with a 2.5m dipper arm, but the UK preferred 3m option is normally offered as standard, which is especially useful when working on housing sites and enables the much needed reach across oversites when excavating for internal drainage and placing floor beams etc.
The 13,980kg Hyundai R140-9 is powered by a Mitsubishi D04FD-TAA four cylinder engine which produces 89kw/121hp and for such a small looking engine is incredibly powerful, but is also extremely quiet even when running at maximum power.
The next operator to test drive the machine was rather more critical, suggesting that in certain aspects the Hyundai was not competing with MJL Contractors current fleet of 14 ton sized Doosan machines. He suggested that the tracks were too short? In answer to that criticism it was pointed out that the Hyundai track length is only a minimal 5mm shorter.
The operator’s concerns and doubts about the machines power were also explained.
The Hyundai machine has 20hp more than the six cylinder Doosan offering and that fact was also reflected in the Hyundai’s bucket breakout force which is rated at 110kn (Doosan 103kn) and an arm breakout force of 62.8kn (Doosan 55kn).
As I see it, more power from a smaller engine for less fuel burnt, has to be a good result for any company in today’s tough economic climate.
I was personally very pleased with the machines performance and if I was in the market for a 14 ton class machine, I would definitely consider one of the Korean machines. I am looking forward to seeing the latest Dash 9A series upgrade models when they get their official launch at Intermat in Paris this coming April.
The Digger Blog would like to thank Matt Lugg Managing Director of MJL Contractors Ltd and Luke Mercer from the Molson Group for their assistance with this test drive event.