Construction Equipment Asia

The bond between man and machine: Junichi Nagata’s connection with the Volvo EW60E

Since childhood days, Junichi Nagata always wanted to work in construction and as soon as he reached working age he joined the family business. But when a tragic accident claimed his right arm back in 2005 it seemed like the dream might be over. However, in an inspirational story of determination, skill and ingenuity, Junichi not only returned to work but set up his own company and, with the help of Volvo Construction Equipment, purchased a specially modified excavator.

Junichi Nagata, President of J-Build Corporation, and his Volvo EW60E wheeled excavator.

From a young age, Junichi Nagata’s fascination with construction machines was evident. He calls his love “hardcore” and tells how his childhood days were spent playing with toy excavators. So it was no surprise when he made a seamless transition into the family construction business as soon as he was able.

Everything was progressing well until tragedy struck in 2005 when he lost his right arm in a devastating accident. While this might seem like the end of the story, for Junichi Nagata it was actually a new beginning.

“After the accident I knew that I would come back to construction, and I was also determined that when I did, I would do it my way. I started working as a one-handed equipment operator and then decided that I would start my own company. In 2015 I launched J-Build Corporation,” explains Junichi Nagata. 

J-Build Corporation began its journey as a subcontractor for private and public construction projects, before growing large enough to take on its own construction projects. It was around this time the company was also introduced to Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) and the two formed a game-changing collaboration. Nagata was keen to purchase a Volvo EW60E Compact Excavator but wanted to learn if it could be modified for one-handed operation. And the answer was that it could – with the help of Volvo CE’s Special Application Solutions service, which tailors products to meet specific customer needs.

Fingertip control

Volvo CE created a bespoke version of the EW60E tailored for fingertip control with the left arm. While the cab’s interior looks standard, there are a couple of notable differences. First, the standard joystick for the left side was replaced with one from Volvo CE’s tiltrotator partner, Steelwrist. Then there were three displays installed on the right-hand side of the cab, to allow effortless switching between operating modes, as well as ongoing monitoring and control.

“We knew we wanted to use the tiltrotator and that would require really close control. Discussions with other companies proposed foot controllers, but we didn’t like that option. With the joystick control we get precise movement and it runs perfectly. We also wanted a design where other people in the company could use the machine, so having the digital displays makes it easy for different operators to take over.”

Adjustment of the joystick is fully customizable, making it easy to switch between attachments, operators and applications. The end-result is a machine that is now integral to day-to-day operations at J-Build Corporation.

“We can’t do our job without it,” says Nagata. “Moving the arm, boom and attachments is really smooth and I can operate the machine without any problem. These days I have to spend more time running the company, but I will still get into the EW60E and operate it sometimes.”

Junichi Nagata manoeuvring the EW60E with ease.

Junichi Nagata’s partnership with Volvo CE and the transformative impact of the EW60E on J-Build Corporation serve as a powerful reminder of what can be achieved when passion meets purpose. Together, the companies have helped pave the way toward a brighter, more inclusive future for the construction industry. For Junichi Nagata, the EW60E is an indispensable ally that epitomizes reliability. 

“The story of Junichi Nagata and his EW60E is an inspiration for the whole team at Volvo CE Japan,” said Shoji Isamu, Head of Market Japan at Volvo CE. “In the future, we believe we’ll see even further advances to help J-Build in its progression, as automation and intelligent machine control become a bigger part of our machines. Smart solutions from Volvo CE are all about making customers more productive, more competitive and more sustainable and Junichi is a great example of how that can be achieved.”