Caterpillar Launches Technology Vision


At the beginning of the year, Finning News attended the annual Caterpillar® press launch, which for the first time ever, was purely focused on the innovative technology solutions Caterpillar has been working on.

For Paolo Fellin, Caterpillar Vice President
 of Global Construction & Infrastructure, who hosted the event, the message coming from Caterpillar was simple: “Our strategic goals as a business are to integrate the best technology into a continually improving product range that is supported by a portfolio of equipment solutions, aimed at ensuing the ongoing success of our customers.”

New equipment is on its way 
Although no new machines were launched at the event, Paolo presented a slide with 47 new product advances, which are set to come into the UK market throughout 2016. Headline announcements included new Cat D6 dozers featuring Cat Grade with Slope Assist and 3D, new Cat 323F excavator featuring Cat Grade with Assist, a range of new M Series wheel loaders and new D Series telehandlers.

Paolo also made a further announcement relevant to the UK market, that will see inboard wet brakes, replacing the current disk brakes used on the Cat 725C2 and Cat 730C2 Articulated Trucks, that are built in the Peterlee factory.

Fuel in the firing line
With a staggering 400,000 Caterpillar units now connected across the globe, the announcement that Vision Link TM monitoring, which is already a UK standard, will now also come as standard on medium to large product lines, showed just how important connected technology will become in the future.

For Paolo this technology will be key to improving customer performance and in particular reducing fuel consumption: “On average fuel now accounts for 30% of customer operating costs, so we are really focused on fuel efficiency management. Through a combination of technological advances on machines and software solutions that help to monitor the performance of equipment, we can now clearly show customers where fuel savings can be achieved, machine by machine. So what we are talking about is a continually growing suite of equipment management solutions that fall under our new EMSolutions brand that will be delivered by experts at Finning, who will analyse and advise how UK and Ireland customer equipment and fleets are performing.”

Integrating technology ‘On the Iron’
and onsite
When it came to product related solutions,
there were major announcements and demonstrations of new grade technology for excavators and dozers, in addition to payload monitoring for articulated trucks, wheel loaders and excavators. Cat Production Management (CPM) has now also been launched on all articulated trucks. Paolo also demonstrated how technology could combine to improve jobsite productivity, comparing a section of a road job using traditional methods, against the same project using a combination of different technology enabled equipment.

“On this test alone we were able to reduce man hours by 31%, cut equipment hours by 34%, whilst using 46% fewer hours to complete the project. Obviously these figures equate to some serious productivity gains and in terms of fuel, we recorded a 37% saving in the number of litres used, which is huge.”

To bring the technology to life, our Finning News camera crew were there to find out more, with exclusive interviews carried out with Caterpillar experts and live demonstrations, which are available to view by searching Caterpillar press launch overview 2016.

Excavator Grade with Assist 
at a glance

Launched on the Cat 323FL excavator, the
new technology is set to cut grading time by
up to 45%, as Caterpillar product expert Anders Thornsen explained, the new system will actually have much more of an impact when it comes to trenching applications in the UK.

Anders: “The in-cab screen control is at the heart of this technology, as it allows the operator to set levels for grading and trenching, whilst they are sat comfortably in the cab. These levels include floor to ceiling heights, bucket angles and grading angles, with the assist function allowing the operator to just concentrate on controlling the stick speed with one hand, in a single lever operation.

“For utility trenching work in particular, it can potentially save much more than time, as by setting a level, the operator can ensure that the bucket won’t dig below the set point. So in practical terms this means the operator can safely dig a trench above existing utilities, knowing that the system won’t allow them to hit and subsequently damage them.”

Dozer Slope Assist – an operator’s view

To find out more about the launch of this new technology for dozers, Finning News caught up with experienced UK dozer operator and Caterpillar demonstrator instructor, Kevin Flynn: “With the new slope assist function what you get is the ability to have much greater blade control, as the system automatically holds the target blade angle using the main fall and cross slope information you input through the in-cab screen display.

“So for me as an experienced operator, what the system will do is take away a lot of the manual commands I would normally need to send to the blade throughout a job, which from an operator perspective will help to reduce fatigue.

But more importantly, the system will really help novice operators by giving them the capability to be more efficient and accurate, as it won’t allow the operator to go above or below the target grade. “The test results conducted to date certainly support the benefits of the system, with jobs finished up to 39 percent faster and improvements to surface quality reaching up to 68%. But for me as an operator, the really big advantage of this type of technology is a safer working environment, as there is no need for stakes and therefore a reduction in people onsite.”

Tons of technology

CPM (Cat Production Management), is a new technology providing operators with on-the-go weighing to tackle precise ton targets. With new in-cab systems in articulated trucks, excavators and wheel loaders, each machine will give the operator the exact ton levels in the skip, bucket and loading shovel, enabling the operator to work more productively and deliver accurate loads with confidence.

This means that no matter what the combination
of equipment, a customer can now have accurately recorded data for all material loaded throughout the year, sent via VisionLink, directly to a chosen plant or operations manager. And that will certainly help them take a load off their mind!