The Caterpillar D6 XE: the first high drive electric drive dozer (update)

Cat d6 dozer

Caterpillar’s new D6 XE is the world’s first dozer equipped with a high drive electric drive powertrain.

The new D6 XE, along with the D6, which is equipped with a fully automatic 4-speed powershift transmission, replace the company’s D6T. Both dozers were unveiled at Caterpillar’s annual year-end press briefing in Peoria, Illinois. ­

“We took this new D6 to a whole new level in terms of design,” said Sam Meeker, Cat’s product application specialist for dozers.

The D6 and D6 XE are the result of a “voice of customer” panel, which included about 600 people from around the world and from various industries.

“Customers said ‘they have to be productive they have to be reliable, and keep the high drive.’ That was something we heard loud and clear,” Meeker said. “We don’t come up with these ideas on our own, we spend a lot of time with our customers deciding where we need to go next.”

According to Caterpillar, the new dozers are able to reduce maintenance costs by up to 12 per cent, boost fuel efficiency by 35 per cent and improve productivity by up to 50 per cent with Cat Connect technology.

Both dozers are equipped with the Cat C9.3B 215 hp engine with an operating weight of 21,749 to 24,097 kg.

Caterpillar D6 XE dozerD6 XE

The D6 XE features a next-generation electric drive system that offers high performance along with improved durability. Simplified diagnostics and the serviceability advantages of a high drive dozer help reduce service and maintenance costs.

“I would have told you yesterday that (the D6) is the big dog on the market. Now it’s the little one. The big one now is the D6 XE,” Meeker said.

The dozer provides constant power to the ground, continuous push and greater maneuverability for faster cycle times, making electric drive an ideal choice to achieve higher levels of productivity and fuel efficiency.

According to Cat, the added productivity and reduced fuel cost means customers can expect to see payback of the added investment over a D6 in less than two years.

As well, with electric drive there are no gears to shift. The fully automatic 4-speed powertrain optimizes the transmission without the operator having to worry about shifting.

The D6 XE electric drive is also built with fewer components than a standard transmission, equaling less service requirements and longer life.

“When you look at the rebuild cost of a traditional powershift transmission versus the electric drive, it’s about $10,000 less to do the electric,” Meeker said. “It’s everything you want in an electric powertrain.”

cat dozerD6

The D6 is powered by a 4-speed fully automatic transmission that provides increased productivity and up to 20 per cent better fuel efficiency, versus its 3-speed predecessor. The fully automatic D6 reduces momentary hesitation when the traditional machine shifts, so momentum and drawbar power are maintained through the entire push.

Caterpillar’s engineers designed the auto-shift to work up and down the entire working range, so power to the ground and fuel consumption are optimized for a greater percentage of the time. An added gear between first and second ensures more seamless shifting.

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Faster grading

The new purpose-built Variable Power Angle Tilt (VPAT) dozer will allow operators to finish jobs faster at higher speeds. The newly designed structure is stronger and lighter, so machine balance is optimized for grading without the need for a rear implement or counterweight.

“It’s lighter and stronger than the previous one, but it doesn’t look lighter. It looks heavier,” Meeker said.

A wide gauge LGP VPAT design, with 91 cm centered shoes, puts more track on the ground to achieve 5 psi ground pressure. A wider VPAT blade and class-leading range of motion improves performance, while a new optional finish grading undercarriage has 10 bottom rollers for smoother grades at higher speeds, even in difficult surfaces like sand and gravel.

cat dozerTech heavy

Jobsite productivity is improved by up to 50 per cent with a choice of Cat Connect Grade technologies. Technologies range from standard Slope Indicate to full factory-integrated GPS.

“As we move to grade control technology and telematics, we’re learning the integration of this at the factory is extremely important, and that’s because of reliability,” Meeker said.

Technology offerings on the D6/D6 XE are led by an updated, factory integrated Cat GRADE with 3D system. The new 25-cm touchscreen offers a more intuitive operator interface that works like a smartphone. The system uses advanced Inertial Measuring Units (IMU), which provide greater speed and accuracy without position sensing cylinders. Smaller antennas are integrated into the cab roof for even better protection. AutoCarry is included with Grade with 3D to automate blade lift to maintain desired blade load, improving load consistency and reducing track slip.

As well, the Attachment Ready Option (ARO) provides mounting locations, brackets and hardware and simplifies installation of an aftermarket grade control system. The new D6/D6 XE makes it easier to install any brand of grade control system, with specific mounting locations for grade control components.

“A dealer can upgrade this tractor to exactly like a factory grade control system,” Meeker said. “When a dealer wants to upgrade to full 3D, he can get antennas, radio, receivers and new display software, and boom, he’s updated to full 3D.”

Maintenance costs

The new D6/D6 XE is designed specifically to reduce service and maintenance costs by up to 12 per cent, with updated components, longer service intervals and fewer scheduled maintenance tasks. Easy access to grouped service points and regular maintenance items, plus a new ladder at the back of the machine, help reduce time spent on routine maintenance and inspection.

As well, the dozer was designed to include an easily removable cab.

“Pull your ROPS pins and you can pull your cab off with a service crane in less than 30 minutes,” Meeker said. “If you’ve ever stuck your head down in the hole underneath the tractor and tried to work upside down you will appreciate that.”

Undercarriage updates are designed to save money and maximize service life. A new heavy duty extended life undercarriage features Positive Pin Retention (PPR) and link improvements for up to 20 per cent more seal life in high impact conditions.

“We take that link and press a little bit of material into the pin, that helps keep the link and the pin from walking apart,” Meeker said. “Effectively what it does is help customers get the last 20 per cent of life out of their undercarriage.”

New cab comfort

The standard air suspension seat is wider with added backward adjustment, plus the entire armrest adjusts independent of the seat for customized comfort. Heated or cooled leather seat options are also available, and all offer a variety of seat adjustments to customize cushion length, head rest position, lumbar support and seat tilt. Integrated ROPS and 15 per cent more overall glass area help increase visibility.