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Cat's new D6 dozer is a “clean-sheet design” offering two powertrain options. (Caterpillar)

Caterpillar reveals next-gen dozers, excavators, motor graders

Caterpillar presented an onslaught of new machines—24 to be exact—at its Edwards Demonstration and Learning Center in Peoria, Ill., during its annual year-end press briefing. “More choices for customers” was a common theme across product lines, as Caterpillar strives to accelerate its development cycles. Here are a few of the next-generation machines demonstrated at the mid-November event.

D6 and D6 XE dozers

Because Caterpillar’s D6T bulldozer had not been significantly re-engineered since 1984, the new D6 is a “clean-sheet design,” according to product application specialist Sam Meeker, and offers two powertrain options. The D6 is powered by a 215-hp (161-kW) Cat C9.3B engine paired with a 4-speed fully automatic transmission that provides up to 20% better fuel efficiency versus its 3-speed predecessor.

Cat claims a world’s first for its D6 XE high drive electric drive dozer, which offers up to 35% better fuel efficiency and almost 90% fewer rotating parts than a traditional powertrain, and payback of the additional investment over a D6 in less than two years. The electric drive system starts with a C9.3B engine that drives a generator rather than powering a torque converter. A switched-reluctance electric motor powers the final drives, and an inverter connects to both the generator and motor by heavy-duty power cables and connectors. 

Focus was placed on reducing the weight up front for better balance without the use of counterweights, Meeker said. A redesigned C-frame—with an upper and lower frame to split the load path—is lighter and stronger than the previous structure. 

The D6/D6 XE are available in VPAT (variable pitch, angle and tilt) or push arm configurations with standard or two widths (30- or 36-inch) of low ground pressure (LGP) undercarriage. “Our previous tractor LGP was at 6.3 psi; our two new tractors are at 6.0 and 5.0 psi, so we’re reducing ground pressure on both the mid- and wide-gauge LGPs,” he said. “We’re really excited that this will get us into some new markets and help customers out in softer soils.”

Integrated ROPS and 15% more overall glass area help increase visibility.

330 and 336 hydraulic excavators

Sticking with the “more choices” theme, the new 330 and 336 hydraulic excavators are also offered in a GC trim level—basically simplified versions that don’t require all the performance and technology required of machines that operate in more extreme applications.

The Cat 330 has a larger, 6700-kg (14,770-lb) counterweight, which enables the excavator to lift nearly 10% more than the 330F and up to 15% more than the 330D2. With increased swing pressure, a larger swing drive, and larger swing bearing, the 330 delivers a 5% increase in swing torque over the previous series.

As with the 330 model, the 36-ton size class 336 excavator delivers increased operating efficiency by up to 45% compared to traditional grading operations thanks to Integrated Cat Connect Technology.

Both models feature a “greatly simplified” electrohydraulic system that contributes to 20% lower maintenance costs, along with extended service intervals, according to product application specialist Ryan Neal. More than 200 ft (61 m) of hoses and about 60 to 70 fittings were removed from the excavators, which require 20% less hydraulic oil. “When you have hoses and fittings, you typically have leaks,” he said.

“We’re continuing to innovate beyond what we introduced one year ago [with the 320 and 323 excavators],” said Brian Stellbrink, product application specialist. “By using the base machine and the electrohydraulic system, we’re able to continue to offer new features via software that are available for the new 330 and 336 from the start. But maybe more importantly, these new features through software can be applied to a machine that was put into the field 12 months ago.”

A Lift Assist feature is one such example. It provides the operator with real-time information on the weight being lifted and where the safe working limits are for the machine. The software updates can be performed remotely.

120 and 140 motor graders

The 2019 Cat 120 motor grader replaces the 120M2 and is now a common global platform. The new 120 is about 4,000 lb (1,814 kg) lighter than its predecessor—31,000 lb vs. 35,000 lb—by customer request, according to product application specialist Eric Kohout, “so we scaled it to what’s needed.” Weight reductions stem from a different frame, modifications to the cab, and “bits and pieces from all over,” he told TOHE.

The 120 model offers two distinct cabs depending on which controls are selected—joystick control, which has been the sole offering for Cat graders in the U.S. for the past 11 years, retain an angled cab; and steering wheel/levers make a return, again at customer request, with a square cab.

“Our research showed that in 2016, we were able to touch about 74% of the market with joysticks. There was that portion that we weren’t able to penetrate, either because they wanted a mixed fleet or they were specific to a steering wheel and lever configuration of machines,” Kohout explained. “We’ve seen a lot of folks out there running and rebuilding older products for years now, and now they’ve got an option. So there may be even more that we just weren’t capturing because there’s pent-up demand.”

The 140 model is the first with next-generation Grade technology, for which engineers replaced legacy, liquid-filled sensors with two IMUs (inertial measurement units), one placed behind the blade on a torque tube that now provides both blade slope and pitch. 

“It gives you the building blocks to be able to put Earthworks [grade control platform from Trimble] on, more plug and play,” he said.

Split C-posts are moved to behind the operator for improved rear visibility, with an unobstructed view at rear corners. Continue reading »