Caterpillar’s first major redesign of its 20-ton excavators is accompanied by some big boosts to performance, and Toromont Cat is taking the new machines on the road to show off the new features.
The next generation 320 GC, 320 and 323 20-ton class machines record a 15 per cent lower maintenance cost, 25 per cent lower fuel consumption and 45 per cent improved efficiency, compared to the F Series predecessors.
To explain how Caterpillar is able to achieve these improvements, Toromont Cat held several demo days throughout Ontario in April.
“The North American launch was in January, so we’re starting to see them now. So far, the feedback has been phenomenal,” said Brian Davis Toromont Cat’s construction solutions specialist.
“Guys have gone into the machines and had ‘wow’ moments.”
One of the biggest contributors to maintenance costs is hydraulic and oil filters, representing about 22 per cent of overall cost. Cat next gen excavators are equipped with electrohydraulic controls that use an electrohydraulic pump and valve.
“By doing that, we eliminate the pilot control system. There’s no more pilot valve filter or lines in the next gen,” Davis said. “We’re eliminating the entire pilot system, which reduces our oil consumption by 20 per cent.”
The new excavators also substantially increase filter change intervals. With previous machines, the hydraulic system would require changing 15 filters after 6,000 hours. Now, only two filter changes are required.
“You change the hydraulic return filter at 3,000 hours and you change it again at 6,000 hours. That’s huge maintenance savings,” Davis said.
A new air filter features twice the lifespan of the previous model. As well, Cat is working towards filter commonality for its machines.
“You’re going to have common oil filters and fuel filters. So, from a fleet standpoint, you buy one box of filters for your fleet,” Davis said.
More fuel savings
The 320 and 323 excavators operate at a lower rpm than previous machines.
“We’ve got larger hydraulic pumps, and we’re putting the same amount of flow through,” Davis said. “But at lower rpms, you don’t have to spin the engine and spin the pump as fast, and you get the same dig force.”
For the cooling package, five individually controlled electric fans replace the single large fan in previous machines.
“Just installing that reduces your fuel consumption by three per cent,” Davis said. “It also allows us to reverse to blow out the rad in high dust situations.”
To regulate power, the machines are equipped with smart mode, which complements the eco and power modes. Smartmode senses how the operator is using the machine, and delivers the required power to complete the task.
“Smartmode is something we’re really excited about and we’re telling our customers to utilize. Davis said. “It’s going to give them a good bang for their buck.”
To improve efficiency, Grade Assist is one of several new features for the new machines, which allows the operator to program grade depths and slopes.
“When you get down to make your final passes, it does it for you automatically,” Davis said. “All you do is pull on the stick, the bucket and the boom will automatically change angle to cut a smooth grade.”
Bucket Assist allows the operator to keep the bucket at a specified angle.
“If you’re loading out really wet loose sloppy material, and you want to keep the bucket flat, which is hard to do, Bucket Assist will maintain that flat angle automatically,” Davis said. “You’ll be able to bail it faster and not concentrate on keeping it flat.”
Boom Assist acts like a float for the boom. As an example, if an operator were to hit a buried rock in hard ground, previous models could be pulled off the ground.
“What Boom Assist will do is once it senses that, it will automatically ride up and over that rock, it won’t allow you to pull the back end up,” Davis said.
For repetitive tasks, Swing Assist allows the operator to program where the machine digs and dumps material.
“If you’re digging a sewer trench and tossing your spoil to the side, you can set your Swing Assist feature, so when you come back to the trench, it’s going to automatically swing break you to where you want to be in the trench,” Davis explained.
As well, Grade Control and Payload are now standard features on the next gen excavators.
“These will take a really good operator, and make him stellar,” Davis said. “For the guy that’s not as good, it’s going to make him better.”