Caterpillar debuts its next generation 349 excavator

Caterpillar 349 excavator
Caterpillar's new 349 excavator.

Caterpillar’s next generation 349 excavator offers contractors up to 45 per cent more operating efficiency, up to 10 per cent more fuel efficiency, and up to 15 per cent less maintenance costs compared to its predecessor, the 349F.

Fuel efficiency is work per unit of fuel, and the 349 excavator does more work per unit than the 349F.

The new smart mode system automatically matches engine and hydraulic power to digging conditions, which reduces fuel consumption and optimizes performance. The excavator’s engine speed automatically lowers when hydraulic demand decreases, further reducing fuel usage.

The cooling system features a new on-demand fan that’s designed to operate only when required, saving fuel and ensuring maximum efficiency. An available reverse function assists with cleaning debris from the cooling cores — another advantage for efficiency.

The new electrohydraulic control system is built for responsiveness and efficiency.  Its main control valve eliminates the need for pilot lines, reduces pressure losses, and lowers fuel consumption. As well, fewer hydraulic lines result in less required oil and lower long-term operating costs.

Tech on-board the 349 excavator

The 349 excavator has the industry’s highest level of standard factory-installed technology, according to Caterpillar, to enable the improved operating efficiency, including Cat Grade with 2DThe system gives operators visual guidance to grade via the standard touchscreen monitor so they are able to make more accurate cuts. The system is readily upgradable to Cat Grade with Advanced 2D or Cat Grade with 3D for enhanced accuracy.

Grade Assist automates boom and bucket movements to help operators of all skill levels improve their results. 

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Cat Payload helps operators increase loading efficiency with on-the-go weighing. Real-time payload estimates can be calculated without swinging to help prevent overloading and underloading trucks.

Lift Assist quickly calculates the weight of the actual load being lifted and compares the result to the rated capability of the 349 excavator. Visual and auditory alerts indicate whether the machine is within a safe working range.

E-Fence prevents the 349 excavator from moving outside operator-defined points. This helps protect the machine, underground utilities, and other objects from damage.

Cat Product Link provides a constant stream of wireless information available via the online VisionLink interface, allowing machine managers in the office to quickly evaluate critical operating information.

The 349 excavator cab

With a Deluxe cab package, the 349 excavator is designed to provide operators with maximum comfort and safety.

Performance-enhancing features like keyless pushbutton start, large touchscreen monitor with jog dial keys for control, and a sound-suppressed rollover protective structure (ROPS) are standard features.

The 349 excavator cab also includes:

  • Tilt-up console that allows easy cab entry and exit.
  • Advanced viscous cab mounts that reduce vibration by 50 per cent.
  • Bluetooth integrated radio with USB ports.
  • Automatic climate control.
  • Programmable joystick buttons that allow setting control patterns and hydraulic response rates.
  • Large front, rear and side windows along with standard rearview and right-hand-side cameras.
  • An optional 360-degree-visibility package.


Extended and synchronized maintenance intervals contribute to the 349 excavator’s lower long-term costs. The new Cat air filter with an integrated pre-cleaner and primary and secondary filters provides double the dust-holding capacity of the previous design.

As well, the new Cat hydraulic return filter has a 3,000-hour service life, which is a 50 per cent increase over previous filters. The excavator’s fuel system filters are synchronized for service at 1,000 hours, representing a 100 per cent increase compared to the previous filters.

The fuel system’s water and sediment drains and hydraulic system’s oil level check are positioned close together at ground level, making routine daily maintenance faster, easier, and safer.