Cat introduces 6-ton 306 CR Next Generation mini hydraulic excavator

Designed to improve the customer experience, the Caterpillar 306 CR mini hydraulic excavator marks the manufacturer’s entry in the 6-ton class offering.

With the 306 CR mini hydraulic excavator, Cat is entering the new class with several industry-first features for the machine.

“We feel like we’ve really taken a step forward. We have industry first features that no one else in the market has,” said Mark Perkes, Caterpillar’s product expert for mini excavators.

One of the industry first features is Cat’s Stick Steer system. With the touch of a button, the operator can switch from the conventional lever/foot-pedal steering controls to the Stick Steer system.

Stick Steer is designed to provide improved operator control with less effort to advance operating simplicity and comfort. For convenience, the intuitive pattern changer allows operators select their preferred joystick movement for controlling the 306 CR mini hydraulic excavator.

“If you look at any excavator over the years, to get from Point A to Point B you’re using those two levers between your legs. It’s not the most comfortable thing,” Perkes said. “With Stick Steer, at the push of a button, all of your travel controls go into your left hand, just like a skid steer.”

The skid steer-like control is an intentional move from Caterpillar, as the controls expand familiarity between two machine types for operators.

“We’re trying to make it that much easier for them to get up to speed and operate,” Perkes said.

Cruise control

Another industry first for the 306 CR is cruise control. Perkes noted that operators may not always be able to unload the machine right next to the jobsite.

“We spoke to a customer had a one-and-a-half-hour commute in their excavator every day to and from the jobsite,” he said. “Think of how much more comfortable it would have been to sit back and put it in cruise control.”

In the cab, the LCD monitor provides the ability to set personal operating preferences, and presents easy-to-read machine information, jog-dial for simple navigation and standard Bluetooth capability – another first for a mini excavator.  

“It’s more than just good looks, there’s true functionality in this monitor,” Perkes said.

As well, the monitor provides operating details such as fuel, coolant temperature and maintenance monitoring, as well as the ability to adjust machine performance.

“Time and time again we keep hearing it’s tough to find and retain good operators. For the first time in a mini excavator, you’re going to be able to adjust the speed of how that machine functions,” Perkes said. “You can slow it down for a new operator, or speed it up for an experienced operator.”

306 CR mini hydraulic excavator specs

With its long stick option, the 306 CR mini hydraulic excavator delivers a maximum dig depth of 4.1 metres and 7,175 kg maximum operating weight when equipped with the sealed and pressurized cab. A canopy alternative to the pressurized cab will be available for customers in 2020. 

Built with a swing boom, the next generation mini excavator’s compact radius design provides a low, 147 cm tail swing with counterweight for working close to obstructions.

The mini excavator also delivers class-leading lift performance of up to 3,555 kg at a 3 metre radius. Enhanced uphill swing torque and increased cycle times also provide greater productivity and efficiency.

The machine’s fuel-saving, load-sensing hydraulic system with an electronically controlled variable-displacement piston pump generates 173 litres per minute hydraulic oil flow.

As well, a high flow rate of 90 litres per minute to the auxiliary circuit enables operation of demanding hydromechanical attachments. Complete with quick-disconnect lines, the standard auxiliary hydraulic system provides one-way, two-way and continuous flow. 

C2.4 turbo diesel engine

The 55.9 hp Cat C2.4 turbo diesel engine powers the 306 CR mini excavator and meets Tier 4 Final emission standards. It features a power-dense design and delivers consistent performance through a wide speed range. Automatic engine idle and shutdown features help to save on fuel consumption.

The design of the new 306 CR emphasizes operator comfort, convenience and safety. Its sealed and pressurized cabin lowers in-cab operating noise levels to 72 dB(A) and is heated and air-conditioned to elevate operator comfort regardless of outside temperatures.

The cab’s roll over protective structure (ROPS), tip over protective structure (TOPS) and top guard combine to promote a safe working environment for the operator.

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With above and below grade operation, float function and “dig-to-blade” operation, the machine’s blade efficiently handles loose material in backfilling and grading applications. Delivering the extra precision required when digging around utilities, front shovel operation can be accomplished with both pin-on and coupler-mounted buckets.

Straight blade, angled blade and extra tool carrier (XTC) configurations further expand the flexibility of the 306 CR mini excavator.

“XTC allows you to put a skid steer coupler right where the blade is and put skid steer attachments,” Perkes said. “It’s something else that allows you to do even more with the machine.”

Lower costs

The new 6-ton class 306 CR mini hydraulic excavator shares common components with models in the Cat mini excavator line to lower repair cost, decrease service time and reduce repair parts inventory.

Major machine structures – including the upper and lower frames, track frames, boom and stick – are modelled after its larger Cat excavator counterparts for long-term durability. Recessed to protect from damage in the field, robust flat side panels offer long service life and quick, easy replacement to lower owning and operating costs.

Ground-level maintenance checkpoints on the mini hydraulic excavator offers convenient access, while enhancing worker safety. Industry-leading grease intervals help to shorten the daily service routine.

“Customers want it to be more affordable, and we’ve done that with the new 306,” Perkes said.