The European construction sector got its first chance to see the latest products from Caterpillar at a launch in Malaga last month. Report by Geoff Ashcroft.
US equipment giant Caterpillar (Cat) is continuing to plough money into research and development, even though global construction equipment markets still struggling to get back on their feet.
The firm says it is investing around $6M (£9M) a day on research and development to ensure customers continue to get the products and support they need to build their businesses, post-recession.
Meanwhile, Cat says it continues to revise its sales forecasts on a weekly basis, hinting at the uncertainty that still lies ahead.
Despite the markets showing little signs of a rapid recovery, Cat is still launching new products. Last month it took the wraps off several new machines, including E-series excavators, K-series wheeled loaders, G-series off-highway quarry trucks and a heavily revised D8T dozer.
“We have made it a priority to ensure our machines are now even safer”
Angel Louis Gonzalez, Caterpillar
All have been engineered with five key objectives in mind: to maintain quality, deliver high-end operator comfort, reduce fuel consumption, improve performance and offer better levels of operator safety.
“Between 75% and 80% of lost-time accidents occur when operators get on and off a machine, so we have made it a priority to ensure our machines are now even safer,” says Angel Louis Gonzalez, product application specialist for G-series off-highway trucks.
Working vision system
One safety feature on offer on the trucks is a working area vision system (WAVS) that allows up to three external camera systems to be fitted around the machine to extend the operator’s range of vision. Images are viewed on an in-cab monitor.
There are also additional mirror options, lighting packages and a change to braking and traction control systems to deliver greater operational safety.
Perhaps more importantly, the two new 773G and 775G trucks also get a 5% power increase, lifting engine output above the 560kW emissions threshold. As a result Cat avoids having to put in engines which comply with Stage IV
Final emissions legislation outside North American markets.
It’s a move that cleverly allows the firm to use a Stage II-compliant engine, and in doing so brings operators a 10% fuel saving over its Stage III predecessor.
An economy mode and an adaptive economy mode allow the operator to set the amount of engine power derate, delivering further opportunities to save fuel. Idling engines can also be automatically shut down determined by excessive idling times.
With operator safety clearly high on the agenda, the D8T now gets extra handrails and platforms to make it safer for the operator to get on and off. A walkway around the left side of the cab makes refueling a safer operation.
The D8T is “Grade Control Ready”, with integrated harnesses incorporated into the machine during assembly to allow for easier installation of an AccuGrade machine control and guidance system.
Among the changes to K-series wheeled loaders is a redesigned cab. The door is now hinged on its front edge, improving access and, with a large tread area and handrails around the top edge of the cab roof, the operator has improved access to safely climb around the front of the cab to clean the windows.