Cat’s 36-ton next generation excavators match machine to task

Cat 336 next generation excavators

Caterpillar’s new 36-ton next generation excavators are designed to offer more choices to complete the task at hand.

The 336 and 336 GC offer unique combinations of features designed to match contractors’ productivity and cost targets.

“The 336 has been the Number 1 selling machine in North America. That means we can’t screw it up, we had to get it right,” said Ryan Neal, product application specialist with Caterpillar. “We’ve added more power, increased swing torque and added a ton of features in the cab.”

Delivering higher-production performance, the 336 features standard integrated Cat Connect Technology and the most power and lift capacity of the two models.

The 336 is able to achieve a 45 per cent increase in efficiency, fuel savings of 15 per cent as well as a 15 per cent reduction in maintenance costs.

The new Cat 336 GC model combines the right balance of productivity features with reduced fuel consumption and maintenance costs. The result is a low-cost-per-hour performance, for contractors that may not be running the excavator all day long, or require the full potential of the 336.

“We’re looking for those lower hour, lower operating cost, low utilization tasks. Not everybody can utilize a GC,” Neal said.

RELATED: The Caterpillar D6 XE: the first high drive electric drive dozer

The 336 GC is equipped with a 275 hp Cat C7.1 engine, while the 336 is equipped with a 314 hp Cat C9.3B engine.

next generation excavatorsNext generation excavators

Both machines were engineered for reduced weight compared to previous models. The 336 GC weighs 36,000 kg (80,500 pounds) while the 336 weighs 37,200 kg (81,900 pounds).

“One of the things we heard was these machines were getting heavier and heavier and getting harder to haul. So, we’re able to shave some weight off the machine and get it closer to that 80,000-pound machine class,” Neal said.

As well both next generation excavators feature electrohydraulic controls (EH).

“When you have an electrohydraulic machine, the things you can do with it tend to be almost limitless,” Neal said. “The EH capability is huge.”

During the engineering process, Neal explained Caterpillar ensured the inclusion of EH controls didn’t eliminate the feel of the joysticks.

“Operators dig by feel, they literally feel how the machine feels from the joysticks,” Neal said. “That was my Number 1 request from engineering was to not lose that feel.”

Efficiency boost

The new Cat 336 has the industry’s highest level of standard factory-equipped technology to boost productivity. Integrated Cat Connect Technology increases operating efficiency by up to 45 per cent over traditional grading operations.

The standard Cat Grade with 2D system provides guidance for depth, slope and horizontal distance to grade through the standard touchscreen monitor, making operators more accurate. The system is readily upgradable to Cat Grade with Advanced 2D or Cat Grade with 3D.

Standard Grade Assist automates boom, stick and bucket movements, so operators are able to stay on grade with single-lever digging.

As well, Cat Payload delivers precise load targets and increased loading efficiency with on-the-go weighing and real-time payload estimates to prevent truck over or underloading.

The E-fence feature prevents the excavator from moving outside operator-defined set points — particularly useful when working beneath structures or near traffic.

Fuel efficiency

Cat’s next generation 36-ton excavators consume less fuel than the models they are replacing — up to 15 per cent less fuel for the 336.

New Smart mode operation automatically matches engine and hydraulic power to digging conditions, optimizing both fuel consumption and performance.

When there is no hydraulic demand, engine speed is automatically lowered to further reduce fuel usage.

Furthermore, the cooling system features a new fan that runs on demand to keep the excavator working at the correct operating temperature.

Less maintenance

With the electrohydraulic system, the Cat 336 and 336 GC feature a new main control valve that eliminates the need for pilot lines, reduces pressure losses and lowers fuel consumption. Fewer hydraulic lines on the excavators result in less oil required, lowering long-term operating costs.

Offering extended and synchronized maintenance intervals, the new excavators do more work at a lower cost and reduce maintenance costs by up to 15 per cent, when compared to the previous series.

The new Cat air filter with integrated pre-cleaner and primary and secondary filters has double the dust holding capacity of the previous design. As well, the new Cat hydraulic return filter has a 3,000-hour service life — a 50 per cent increase over the previous filter.

The fuel system filters are synchronized for service at 1,000 hours, which is a 100 per cent increase over the previous filters.

Fuel system water and sediment drains, as well as hydraulic system oil level, are positioned close together at ground level, making routine daily maintenance faster, easier and safer.

In-cab comfort

With a choice of Comfort, Deluxe, or Premium cab packages, all next generation excavator cabs are equipped with standard features like keyless push-button start, touchscreen monitor with jog dial keys for control and sound-suppressed rollover protective structures (ROPS). New advanced viscous mounts reduce cab vibration by up to 50 per cent compared to previous models.

“That’s your office for eight, nine or 10 hours a day. If the operators are not happy and comfortable, they’re less productive,” Neal said.

A tilt-up console for the Deluxe and Premium cab designs allows easy cab entry and exit.

The cab is also equipped with a Bluetooth integrated radio with USB ports, programmable joystick buttons for response and pattern to dial in productivity settings and numerous storage options.

“There’s nooks and crannies all over the place for storage. We can get a lunchbox in the back,” Neal said.

As well, larger windows on the next generation excavators enhances visibility. On the 336, 360-degree visibility combines images from several machine-mounted cameras to enhance sightlines.

Large front, rear, and side windows enhance visibility; optional 360-degree visibility combines images from multiple machine-mounted cameras to enhance the operator’s sightlines in all directions.

“To be able to see virtually all round an excavator is huge,” Neal said.