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What's new in Cat's next-gen excavators

by Dennis Daniel on Mar 6, 2018

Laurent Sarignac, excavation product marketing specialist for MEA, Caterpillar.
Laurent Sarignac, excavation product marketing specialist for MEA, Caterpillar.

Caterpillar is tackling two customer concerns, fuel efficiency and operator performance, to develop its next generation of excavators.

In late 2017, Caterpillar launched three 20-ton size class excavators, the 320 GC, 320 and 323, which offer increased operating efficiency, lower fuel and maintenance costs, and improved operator comfort compared to previous models.

Laurent Sarignac, excavation product marketing specialist for Middle East and Africa, Caterpillar, says: “Helping customers lower their total cost of ownership is in Caterpillar’s DNA, through higher fuel efficiency and operator comfort. Our next-generation excavators reduce operating costs dramatically compared to the D2 series. Fuel consumption is reduced by as much as 25%, and maintenance costs are reduced by as much as 15% due to extended service intervals. The new cabs will help operators get the most out of their machine while minimising fatigue. These features will become game changers for the industry.”

Among the top technological features of the 320 and 323 is Cat Connect, an intelligent suite of hardware, software and services which include Cat Grade and Cat Payload. The Cat Grade with 2D system provides guidance for depth, slope and horizontal distance to grade. The system’s e-fence feature enables the machine to work safely under structures or near traffic by preventing any part of the excavator from moving outside operator-defined set points. The standard 2D system can be upgraded to Cat Grade with Advanced 2D or Cat Grade with 3D. Cat Grade with Assist automates boom and bucket movements and reduces manual input and fatigue, which improves operator efficiency by up to 45%. The Cat Payload system enables to monitor productivity of the machines either from the machine’s 8” monitor or remotely through the customer web portal VisionLink.

Both Grade with Assist and Payload are available as standard features on the 320 and 323 models. The Cat 320 GC, which is designed for low- to medium-duty applications, combines productivity features with reduced fuel consumption and maintenance costs to provide low cost-per-hour performance. The Cat 320 provides higher efficiency with integrated Cat Connect technology that increases productivity. Standard technology combined with lower fuel and maintenance costs deliver low-cost production in medium- to heavy-duty applications. The Cat 323 delivers high production performance with standard integrated Cat Connect technology and the most power and lift capacity among the three models. These features combined with lower fuel consumption and reduced maintenance costs deliver high productivity at very low cost.

According to Cat, the 320 and 323 models boast the industry’s highest level of standard factory-equipped technology to boost productivity. Both models are equipped with integrated Cat Connect technology, which increases operating efficiency by up to 45% over traditional grading operations. The excavators have engines that provide duty-matched power ratings from 107 to 117kW. A smart mode operation automatically matches engine and hydraulic power to digging conditions, optimising fuel consumption and performance. Engine speed is automatically lowered when there is no hydraulic demand to further reduce fuel usage. A new Cat hydraulic return filter has higher dirt capacity and provides a 3,000-hour service life, a 50% increase over previous filters.

A new Cat air filter with integrated pre-cleaner and primary and secondary filters extends service life to 1,000 hours, a 100% increase over previous designs, while a new fuel tank cap filter extends service life to 2,000 hours. The three fuel system filters each offer a 500-hour service interval. The cabs on the three models come equipped with standard features like keyless push-button start, large standard 203-mm touchscreen monitor with jog dial keys for control and sound-suppressed rollover protective structures (ROPS). Programmable joystick buttons for response and pattern allow the operator to dial in productivity settings. New, advanced viscous mounts reduce cab vibration by up to 50% over previous models to reduce operator fatigue.

“Caterpillar has been investing heavily in research and development since the early 20th century, and we will continue to do so with a focus on creating value and generate superior customer satisfaction,” says Sarignac.

Caterpillar is gearing up to launch the three models in the Middle East during Q2 2018. According to Sarignac, the timing of the launch is right as the business climate in the Middle East is projected to improve moderately during the year.

“The response from markets where these new excavators have been introduced so far have been overwhelmingly positive. We will introduce them at trade shows during the first half of the year, before we start full commercial distribution during the second half of 2018 across the Middle East and Africa. Subsequent products will follow over the coming years, building on the existing technology, fuel efficiency and operator comfort to meet our customers’ requirements and deliver best-in-class owning and operating costs,” he says.