Home / Caterpillar reveals details of new future-focussed excavators

Caterpillar reveals details of new future-focussed excavators

by Fatima De La Cerna on Nov 25, 2017

Caterpillar organised a product demonstration to showcase the features of its next-generation excavators.
Caterpillar organised a product demonstration to showcase the features of its next-generation excavators.

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As one of the biggest – if not the biggest – players in the global construction machinery and equipment market, Caterpillar has had a hand in setting and defining the rules by which the industry has operated over the years.

The manufacturer, however, doesn’t appear to have any qualms about breaking those rules – or at least pushing them aside to make way for new ones.

“Welcome to the biggest improvements in fuel efficiency. Welcome to the lowest maintenance costs. Welcome to our next generation of excavators. New range, new rules,” goes Caterpillar’s preamble to the grand reveal of its new hydraulic excavator (HEX) range, encouraging the members of the international press gathered at its Málaga Demonstration and Learning Centre to “get ready to tear up the old rule book and rewrite the rules”.

A 106ha facility located on Spain’s Costa del Sol, the centre was established in 1971. It boasts a 220-seat auditorium, a 625m2 exhibition centre, several conference rooms, a number of service training facilities, around 60 demo machines, and a viewing terrace.

It also features a grandstand that looks out over a quarry – the setting of the official unveiling, which proves to be a spectacle of sound and light that hints at what’s to come by referencing the Michael Bay film, Transformers: The Last Knight, in which a Cat excavator makes a cameo.  

The equipment is none other than the 320, one of three models that comprise Caterpillar’s next-generation excavator range in the 18.1-tonne (20-ton) size class, the other two being the 323 and the 320 GC. 

With the new range, Caterpillar promises not just a new set of rules but a new game altogether.  

“Up to 45% efficiency improvement for the operator, up to 25% reduction in fuel consumption, and up to 15% maintenance cost reduction – this is game changing,” says Herwig Peschl, global marketing manager of Caterpillar. “Game changing is what we’re about. We keep investing in our products and services to make sure we satisfy our customers [by giving them] what they have been asking for.” 

Damien Giraud, vice president of global construction and infrastructure (GCI) at Caterpillar, elaborates on Peschl’s statement by emphasising Caterpillar’s goal of “transforming” the global excavator industry.

Noting that the excavator business, specifically the 9.1t to 81.6t (10-ton to 90-ton) market, has a global value of $22bn and is a “huge industry by itself”, he says: “[Our only purpose] is customer experience. If you think about the contractors working on jobsites, they struggle to recruit operators. They have a hard time finding skilled operators.

“Our job, coming in with the new generation excavators, is to make any average operator a great operator, to make sure that they can do their jobs even though they have not [received much training] in the past, [to help them] evolve from just being okay to being the best in class – this is what we intend to do for our customers.” 

In addition to operator skill, Caterpillar aims to address fuel and maintenance costs, jobsite safety, operator comfort, and variations in market requirements with its new range, announces Peschl.

“Game changing can be summarised in three words: simplification, innovation, and choices,” he says, revealing that Cat’s simplification strategy has meant slashing the number of its platforms, cabin types, and air filters by more than half.

“This is not just applicable to the [18.1t] size class but to all our product lines. With our current excavator series, we have 28 different platforms. We are reducing these to 12,” he continues. “What is a platform? A platform is a chassis; it is the hydraulics, the drivetrain, and the powertrain.”