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Back to basics

Case is aiming at the top position with its new wheeled excavator, as Adrian Greeman reports from the firm’s Paris testing ground.


Until recent years Case Construction Equipment dominated the wheeled excavator market in Europe, but has been losing share to rival firms as the sector has become more competitive. Wheeled excavators are the leading workhorse on sites throughout central Europe and Scandinavia, so market share in this segment is vital for major plant manufacturers. Even in markets like the UK and Italy, which tend more towards the backhoe loader as their general purpose site tool, these machines are important in heavier civil engineering work.

The fall-off in Case’s market share has, in part, been blamed on recent models being perhaps a little too “clever” in their design and complicated to use, with over sophisticated electronics, some said.

So the company has completely re-examined its design from top to bottom, it declared last month at the launch of a new range of machines.

“With these machines we have gone back to first principles to provide power, reliability, precision and the tradition we have built”

The firm unveiled the first three machines in the range, the WX148, WX168 and WX188, the numbers reflecting their respective operating weights of 15.2t to 16t, 17t to 17.9t and 18.2t to 19.7t. A fourth, larger machine is to come shortly.

“With these machines we have gone back to first principles to provide power, reliability, precision and the tradition we have built,” says Case European marketing director Jean Patrick Yekpe.

The machines are still sophisticated, with electronic control for the “intelligent” hydraulic system, for example, but with the purpose of simplifying and easing operations. There is, for example, only one central control stick for all the machine functions.

A unique design feature that will grab a lot of attention is a three pump system for the hydraulics, with one dedicated only to the operation of the slew. What this ensures is that power does not suddenly tail off on lifting and bucket operations if the operator starts a slew in mid-grab, and it is an innovation that looks set to be imitated widely.

The electronic hydraulics offer a variety of features to aid the operator. There is “automatic powerboost” for heavy breakout work and a power increase delivered when the machine is in travel mode, which now features a higher top speed of 35kph, as well as “orbitrol” steering to ease machine direction.

The machines also feature a new engine speed and working mode selection system that gives six options to the operator from idling and lifting modes to three for “eco working” and a heavy mode for maximum excavation.



The swing of the superstructure can also be set with four acceleration and three deceleration settings. Overshoot when using a swinging clamshell can be stopped, for example, with a gentle deceleration setting on this Case Intelligent Swing.

The three models have an extremely robust chassis, says Case, and have been designed with high ground clearance to suit the urban work environment. The chassis envelope is slightly larger than previous models, though comparable with rival makes, and is exceptionally stable, the company says.

The machines have the option of a dozer blade, a dozer blade and stabilisers, or stabilisers front and rear, with an auto lock giving stability if working without stabilisers. Single, double and super wide tyre options are available.

Driver comfort is a significant aspect of the new machines. The cabs meet new EU regulations for roll over protection systems (ROPS) and falling objects protection systems (FOPS), and have automatic air conditioning, airsuspended seats and completely adjustable controls.

The viscous mounted and noise insulated cabin has ergonomically designed arm rests and foot pedals, tinted safety glazing and large sun blinds, and a camera is mounted at the rear for all round safety visibility.

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