Caterpillar rolls out next generation mini excavators

mini excavators

Caterpillar has launched the new lineup of its next generation mini excavators.

The four new machines in the 1- to 2-ton class, incorporate industry-first standard features, such as joystick steering (Stick Steer), a tilt-up canopy or cab, as well as new options, which include air conditioning and expandable undercarriages across the range.

Major structures for the Caterpillar Next Generation mini excavators — upper and lower frames, track frames, boom, and stick — are modeled after their larger Cat excavator counterparts.

The new model range is designed to provide expanded choices for matching machine capabilities and machine features to the applications:

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  • 301.5 (1.5-ton class, standard tail swing, with canopy)
  • 301.7 CR (1.7-ton class, compact radius, with canopy)
  • 301.8 (1.8-ton class, standard tail swing, with either canopy or cab)
  • 302 CR (2.0-ton class, compact radius, with either canopy or cab)

Minimum operating weights for the new models range from about 1,575 kg to 2,045 kg, with weights increasing to 1,760 to 2,200 kg, depending on specific machine configuration. The mini excavator dig depths reach 234 cm or 237 cm, depending on the model. As well, an available long stick increases depth to 254 cm or 257 cm. Rubber track undercarriages are standard, with steel tracks available for all models.

The new mini excavator models use the Cat C1.1 engine, a three-cylinder diesel rated at 19.2 net horsepower and 21.6 gross horsepower, while meeting Tier 4 Final/Stage V emissions regulations. The C1.1 features a power-dense design and delivers consistent performance through a wide speed range. Fuel efficiency is enhanced with engine idle control and automatic shutdown systems.

The new Next Generation mini excavators use a fuel saving, load-sensing hydraulic system with an electronically controlled variable displacement piston pump capable of oil flows up to 66 litres per minute. Flow rates, coupled with high main-relief pressures, provide the new models with the hydraulic capacity to generate high digging and lifting forces, as well as to handle powered attachments.

As well, the standard auxiliary hydraulic system — complete with quick disconnect lines — provides one way, two way and continuous flow.

Manual couplers are available, and the new models are equipped with a thumb-ready package and a certified lifting eye. Front shovel operation, a capability that lends an extra measure of precision when digging around utilities, may be accomplished with both pin-on and coupler-mounted buckets.

Expandable undercarriage

The expandable undercarriage, which is standard for all models, narrows to allow the new machines to enter work sites through restricted access points, then extends to provide a stable work platform. Undercarriages for all models, except the 302 CR, retract from 130 cm to 99 cm. The 302 CR retracts from 140 cm to 109 cm.

A dozer blade also expands the capability of the new mini excavators, allowing the machine to handle backfilling and grading tasks.

Operator environment

The design of the Next Generation mini excavators emphasize the comfort, convenience and safety of the operator.

The cab, optional on the 301.8 and 302 CR, is pressurized and sealed to reduce dust intrusion and is fitted with a climate control system.

The operating consoles feature adjustable wrist rests, and a suspension seat is available.

Controls are designed to be intuitive, with a pattern changer that allows operators to select their preferred system. A machine security system is standard — key with pass code or push-to-start with fob. The Next Generation LCD monitor provides easy-to-read machine information and features a jog dial for ergonomic interaction with the monitor. Radio is standard with cabs, as is Bluetooth capability.

Stick Steer

An exclusive feature for the new Next Generation models is the standard Stick Steer system, which allows the operator to switch (with the touch of a button) from conventional lever/foot-pedal steering controls to left-hand joystick control.

Stick Steer provides the benefit of less effort with improved operator control. Additionally, automatic two speed travel is standard.