Caterpillar rolls out new wheel loaders, artics, and scrapers

Therese Dunphy

March 21, 2016

Just days before AGG1, Caterpillar rolled out a number of new machines for the aggregates market, including wheel loader models, articulated trucks, and a scraper. The audience was a group of trade press editors who were invited, for the first time ever, to see equipment demonstrations at the company’s Peoria proving grounds.

“We are certainly in challenging industries,” says Denise Johnson, newly appointed group president for resources industries, “but we are very committed to those industries.”

As a result, Cat has invested $2 billion into research and development, with a particular focus on optimizing assets and connecting them, including integrating technology more commonly found in automobiles and cell phones. “We are bringing a lot of that technology to our products,” Johnson adds. “Innovation and technology are something we are really focusing on.” Both concepts were themes among the equipment introductions and upgrades previewed during the press event.

 

Medium wheel loaders

Cat's new M Series Wheel Loaders feature a rear object detection system with a speed zone system that not only lets the operator know he's approaching something, but how quickly he is approaching it.
Cat’s new M Series Wheel Loaders feature a rear object detection system with a speed zone system that not only lets the operator know he’s approaching something, but how quickly he is approaching it.

M Series Wheel Loaders (950M, 962M, 966M, 966M XE, 972M, 972M XE, 980M, and 982M) updates reflect three key goals: optimizing site efficiency, adding safety features, and reducing operating costs. “Customers said they wanted to get people out into and out of the yard faster,” says Bryan Vogt, market application specialist, wheel loaders.

From an operational standpoint, the loaders feature Product Link Elite, which provides for faster communication to the office; Cat Production Measurement v1.2, which allows the operator to more easily navigate truck and material identification lists via the monitor; and Cat Rear Object Detect System, which is a radar-based system that senses objects behind the machine. While rear-object detection itself is not new, this system has a speed zone system which tells the operator not only that he is getting close to an object, but also how quickly he is approaching it. An audible alarm signals more frequently as the object becomes increasingly close.

Clearly, the object detection system improves safety, but other safety features include an external seat belt indicator that allows plant managers to quickly identify if an operator is operating the loader without first engaging the seat belt.

A variable ground speed limiter reduces fuel usage, as well as wear and tear on the engine. In Economy Mode, the XE units are said to achieve an additional 4- to 8-percent fuel reduction, compared to previous models.

In addition to the fuel savings engineered into the various medium-sized wheel loaders, use of the performance bucket may allow a smaller unit to serve as a more economical replacement to a larger unit. “One of the biggest advantages of the Aggregates Handler model is that it has a bucket size large enough to achieve a true three-pass match,” says Lucas Sardenberg, wheel loader marketing consultant for Caterpillar. For example, a 972M might be able to fill a truck in three passes where an older 980 loader would take two and a partial pass to fill the same truck. The Aggregates Handler configuration also has a slightly wider stance than the standard unit to ensure stability.

All units feature LED lighting, which is brighter and lasts up to 40 times longer than halogen lighting. New non-metallic fenders provide a durable safeguard for the tires, while more robust steps are designed for safer ingress and egress.

 

Articulated haul trucks

Cat's Production Management System allows both the truck operator and the loader operator to tell how much material has been loaded int the truck. A blinking red light indicates that it has reached 75 percent capacity, while a solid red light means the tuck is 95 percent full.
Cat’s Production Management System allows both the truck operator and the loader operator to tell how much material has been loaded int the truck. A blinking red light indicates that it has reached 75 percent capacity, while a solid red light means the tuck is 95 percent full.

The introduction of the Tier 4 Final 725C2, 730C2, and 730C2 EJ articulated dump trucks includes several new features from the C Series, including the use of wet brakes across the C2 lineup. “We went from dry disc to wet disc brakes as standard,” says Scott Thompson, senior product specialist.

The change allows for less parasitic losses, increased braking performance, and reduced machine downtime. Productivity increases of 2.8 percent on the 725C2 and 0.7 percent on the 730C2, combined with fuel efficiency increases of 5.3 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively, lead to operator benefits. “You can reduce your owning and operating costs,” Thompson notes.

While the 730 models previously had automatic traction control, it is now offered on the 725C2 as well. With fully automatic engagement of both the inter- and cross-axle differentials, the ease of operation makes the machine easy to operate for even inexperienced drivers.

To ensure accurate loading, the Cat Production Measurement System provides key signals to the driver, as well as the loader operator to attain system accuracy that is said to be plus or minus 5 percent. As the first bucket loads, a green light lets the loader operator know the system is working. When the truck is 75 percent full, a red light begins to flash to indicate the upcoming last pass. The light becomes solid red when the truck is 95 percent full. Lights turn off once the machine’s speed exceeds 3 mph.

“No longer will operators under load or over load that machine,” Thompson says. An algorithm tracks the weight of the machine throughout the cycle. This not only improves the accuracy of the system, but also alerts the operator to carryback.

 

725C2, 730C2 & 730C2 EJ Specifications

725C2 730C2 730C2 EJ
Engine Cat C9.3 ACERT™ Cat C13 ACERT Cat C13 ACERT
Net power, horsepower 314 367 367
Rated payload, tons 26.5 31 31
Heaped capacity, cubic yards 19.6 22.1 22.1
Total loaded weight, pounds 103,707 114, 034 120, 186
Max. speed, fwd, mph 34 34 34

 

Scrapers

Four optional technologies allow the operator to achieve an estimated 95 percent accuracy to scale weights.
Four optional technologies allow the operator to achieve an estimated 95 percent accuracy to scale weights.

Cat debuted two new Tier 4 Final wheel tractor-scrapers, the 631K and 637K. The models replace the previous 630G Series and feature a complete design update, including high-pressure steering, engine-over-speed protection, tire-spin reduction, differential-lock-engagement protection, and machine/ground-sped control. Payload capacity of the open-bowl 631K and open-bowl twin-engine 637K is 34 cubic yards.

“It’s one of the oldest products in the Cat lineup,” says John Gerhold, noting, “Scrapers are alive and well.”

Design focused on three factors, incorporating technology, improving performance, and increasing operator comfort.

Four optional technologies are available:

  • Grade for Scrapers ensures the machine doesn’t over cut or over fill;
  • Grade with Sequence Assist automates multiple functions such as load, haul, dump, and return with the touch of button;
  • Grade with Load Assist controls the cutting edge as an operator enters the cut and maintains the optimal cut depth; and
  • Payload for Scrapers calculates payload in tons by measuring the bowl lift cylinder pressure at the beginning of the loaded haul segment.

According to Cat, using the payload estimator with Grade for Sequence can help the operator achieve better than 95 percent accuracy to scale weights.

The scrapers have been in the pilot phase of the validation process since 2013. At that time, three units were built, one for in-house testing and two for field follows. Tests include evaluations of power, cooling, and structures. “We’ve taken it apart and put it together, taken it apart and put it together, and taken it apart and put it together,” says Peter Rommel, engineering team leader. The result is an 8- to12-percent performance improvement, compared to the G series, for the 637K and a 6-to 8-percent improvement for the 631K. Production on the new scrapers begins in April.

 

631K & 637K Specifications

631K 637K
Engine Cat C18 ACERT T: Cat C18 ACERT

S: Cat C9.3 ACERT

New power, horsepower 570 T: 570

S: 290

Heaped capacity, cubic yards 34 34
Rated load, pounds 82,200 82,200
Non push-pull operating weight, empty, pounds 102,750 114,950
Push-pull operating weight, empty, pounds 106,430 119,060
Top speed, loaded, mph 33.5 33.5

 

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