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Hybrid shovels: A new level of reliability and efficiency

5 min read / April 16, 2020 / Leah Harnack

Customer-driven design incorporates a hybrid of proven technologies

Recently, Komatsu officially launched the P&H 2650CX Hybrid Shovel, an innovative loading tool for the mining market. This new machine is the result of extensive customer focus groups outlining the need for an alternative to the 550 to 700-ton hydraulic excavator at a reduced total cost of ownership. The hybrid shovel combines the reliability of P&H rope shovels, the flexibility of Komatsu hydraulic excavators, and the technology of Komatsu electric drive wheel loaders to reduce the total cost of ownership by 10 to 15%.

In 2016, the first P&H 2650CX Hybrid Shovel went to work. Over its 22,000 hours running in the field, it has demonstrated a 40 to 50% reduction in fuel consumption compared to hydraulic excavators, while maintaining equal or better production. 

A sustainable solution through electric power

We introduced SR (switched reluctance) technology into our surface wheel loader products more than two decades ago and now have more than 150 surface wheel loaders utilizing it around the world. The same technology that revolutionized the wheel loader market is being brought to shovels.

SR Hybrid Drive Technology is leveraged on the hybrid shovel to capture regenerative power that is naturally produced. Diesel energy is converted to electrical energy through a switched reluctance generator, which provides power to hoist, crowd, and swing motors. When the 2650CX lowers its bucket or decelerates swing speed, motors become generators, supplying energy to the machine and shutting off fuel supply. Engines do not burn fuel for about 17% of a typical loading cycle, including dig, swing, dump and return swing, contributing to reduced fuel consumption and longer engine life. 

To maximize efficiency, the machine utilizes electric power over hydraulic to enable regeneration. The result is 50-60% less hydraulic fluids needed compared to hydraulic excavators. This translates to additional savings through reduced fluid costs, reduced hydraulic routings and fittings, and a reduced environmental impact.

Efficiency and productivity without sacrificing versatility


A major difference between a P&H hybrid shovel and the P&H rope shovel is how the machine is powered. Rather than being tethered to a high-voltage trail cable, the 2650CX uses twin-diesel engines — available in Tier 1, Tier 2 or Tier 4 Final — rated for 2,386 kW (3,200 HP). With no trail cable needed, the 2650CX has the mobility to easily tram to different areas of a mine site. This also gives the hybrid shovel the flexibility to operate in remote locations or greenfield mines, which may not have electric grid access. 


The P&H 2650CX leverages the hoist and crowd digging forces of P&H electric rope shovels and adds a third force, referred to as breakout force, i.e. bucket curl. Breakout force is key to flexible digging paths, allowing for horizontal digging along the floor, top-down digging, and selective digging — which is a potential requirement in hard rock, multi-seam coal, or banded iron formations. The 2650CX uses a hydraulic clamshell bucket, eliminating the door-latch mechanism commonly found on rope shovels.

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The articulating clamshell bucket uses hydraulic power to open and close.

The capabilities of the 2650CX provide exceptional reach and height, compared to hydraulic excavators. This allows for higher bucket fill factors, increased material excavated between moves, and operation in bench heights up to 16 meters (52 ft).

Additionally, efficiency comes from the fixed-boom architecture of the 2650CX. The fixed boom reduces digging mass from hoist motion, requiring less energy during the dig cycle and maximizing bail pull throughout the dig profile.

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The P&H 2650CX Hybrid Shovel offers excellent productivity with multiple dig paths for optimal flexibility and an articulating clamshell bucket that provides high initial breakout force.

A machine designed for maintainability and availability

The hybrid shovel was designed by the engineering team in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who are internationally recognized for designing mining-duty machines built for reliability and long-life. Reliability, maintenance, and serviceability were central focuses of the machine design, with engineers drawing on the expertise of mine maintenance and operations teams around the world.

The 2650CX is a modular design built in a controlled factory environment and transported to the mine in 14 shipping assemblies. The modularity of the 2650CX lends itself to quicker assembly and disassembly, as well as easier component installation and removal.

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The modular design of the hybrid shovel means quicker commissioning. Major components and routings are installed within each module at the factory and are connected once in the field, meaning no welding is required during field assembly.

PreVail Remote Health Monitoring provides timely machine health and performance knowledge. The system recognizes familiar patterns and deviations from normal control limits, and the operator can carry out the right actions at the right time to increase asset utilization, efficiency and production.

The hybrid shovel also utilizes Komatsu's LINCS II control system, an integrated network control system. The intuitive touchscreen in the cab gives the operator access to live machine data, providing vital statistics and instant, real-time feedback in a graphical format that can be easily configured to personal preferences.

Together, LINCS II and PreVail use powerful communication, command, and control capabilities to transform data and information into refined knowledge for the operations and maintenance management teams. The information can be reported through key performance indicator dashboards, graphical analysis tools, and predictive modeling and reporting tools.

Steady progress to market

Since the pilot unit went into work in early 2016, it has accumulated nearly 22,000 hours. During this time, Komatsu’s engineering and field support teams have conducted extensive reliability growth testing which has led to essential validation and verification. The machine has been tested in extreme mining environments, including hot Arizona summers and Rocky Mountain winters at high elevation.

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The pilot unit is still in operation with the original engines due to an extremely low engine load factor. The engine overhauls are scheduled beyond 30,000 hours.

While the P&H 2650CX Hybrid Shovel represents a new class of P&H shovels for the mining industry, utilizing the latest in technology and innovation, it also leverages the legacy of our proven designs. With ongoing production underway and field support trained, we’re ready to see this machine’s success in the industry.

Komatsu engineering brought together time-tested, proven technologies to develop something our customers were asking for in the P&H 2650CX Hybrid Shovel. With a payload capacity of 59 tonnes (65 short tons) enabling a four-pass match to 227-tonne (250 short ton) haul trucks, it will accommodate trucks ranging from 135 to 360 tonnes (150 to 400 short tons). You can learn more on our website or by contacting your local Komatsu mining representative.