Capital Equipment News

The new Cat 323 – with 24 500 kg of operating weight – boasts standard integrated Cat Connect Technology and the most power and lift capacity in the three-model line-up.

Construction is one of the industries that still grapples with productivity. Based on the understanding that technology has the power to make construction more efficient, Caterpillar’s Next Generation Hex 20-tonne size class excavator range – launched locally by Barloworld Equipment – changes the status quo with an array of standard technological advancements aimed at increased productivity, reduced fuel consumption and maintenance costs, writes Munesu Shoko.

Cat changing the game

Barloworld Equipment, the southern African dealer for Cat earthmoving equipment, has officially unveiled three Next Generation Cat excavator models – 320, 320GC and 323 – in the 20-t class size. The new range comes with an array of standard factory-fitted cutting-edge technologies that, combined, offer up to 45% increased productivity, 25% reduced fuel consumption and 15% lower maintenance costs.

Speaking at Barloworld Equipment’s southern African official launch of the new range, Giacomo Bottone, Global Director – Excavation at Caterpillar, noted that the development of the new range was informed by direct feedback from customers.

“The construction industry is one of the sectors that still grapples with low productivity. Having listened to our customers, we have developed a range of excavators that comes with a full suite of technologies that used to be on the wish list but are now standard,” says Bottone, adding that the Next Generation Cat excavators combine three compelling characteristics – increased operating efficiency, lower fuel consumption and reduced maintenance costs – which speak directly to the needs of today’s construction equipment owners.

Sivu Potelwa, GCI Product Specialist at Barloworld Equipment, says the range is set to transform the construction industry. She says lower fuel consumption of up to 25% translates into reduced running costs and better cash flow for customers. “With increased efficiency of up to 45%, coupled with a 15% reduced maintenance cost, it means that operators can now move more for less,” says Potelwa.

Said to be the 20-t class standard, the Cat 320, with 22 000 kg of operating weight, raises the bar for efficiency with integrated Cat Connect Technology that advances productivity gains. Designed for low- to medium-duty applications, the new Cat 320 GC, with 20 500 kg of operating weight, combines the right balance of productivity features with reduced fuel consumption and maintenance costs. The new Cat 323 – with 24 500 kg of operating weight – boasts standard integrated Cat Connect Technology and the most power and lift capacity in the line-up.

Productivity in focus

Johann Viljoen, Sales Support Manager at Barloworld Equipment, says technology was the cornerstone of the development of the new range. “The machines come with a range of innovative systems that help increase productivity by 45%,” says Viljoen. “The onboard Cat Connect Technology allows operators of all experience levels to dig, load and grade with more efficiency, speed and accuracy. The result is better productivity and lower operational costs.”

The Cat 320 and 323 come standard with Cat Grade with 2D system at no extra cost. Offering guidance for depth, slope and horizontal distance to grade, the Cat Grade with 2D system helps operators reach desired grade quickly and accurately. The system is ideally suited for residential and commercial, utility and general construction.

The standard 2D system can be upgraded to Cat Grade with Advanced 2D or Cat Grade with 3D. “The Cat Grade with 3D – which uses GNSS satellite technology to provide the information necessary to determine precise bucket positioning with centimetre level accuracy – is an optional system for more complex jobs,” explains Viljoen.

At the centre of the productivity drive are the four Assist systems that also come as standard. Grade Assist automates boom, stick and bucket movements, allowing operators to stay on grade simply and effortlessly with single-lever digging. Boom Assist ensures the machine stays grounded when you dig, lift and rotate under load. “Bucket Assist maintains the angle of the bucket to the ground when stick and/or boom are moved. This makes levelling much easier and consistent,” says Viljoen. Meanwhile, Swing Assist automatically stops swinging motion of the machine at a pre-set point. This simplifies the work cycle, with less effort and less fuel consumption.

The standard Cat Payload – integrated in the Cat 320 and 323 – delivers precise load targets with on-the-go weighing, which helps prevent truck over/under-loading and maximises efficiency. Automated tracking helps manage production and lower costs. “Cat LINK hardware also comes as standard, allowing machine owners to simply link up the software to connect jobsites to the office and provide machine-critical operating information,” says Viljoen.

Fuel savings

Terence Naidu, Head: Construction Sales at Barloworld Equipment, says fuel efficiency is a major focus area in the new range, with the Cat 320 and 323 being the first machines in the Cat excavator range to employ fuel efficiency technology. “Fuel represents up to 30% of an excavator’s operating costs. With that in mind, Cat’s Next Generation excavators come with a range of features that, combined, constitute up to 25% reduction in fuel consumption,” says Naidu.

There are five pillars driving fuel efficiency, namely idle time, operator technique, equipment selection, technology and jobsite setup. A range of features, such as Automatic Engine Control, Engine Idle Shutdown and Eco Mode (which reduces engine rpm), address the issue of idle time.

Naidu says the cost of machine idling translates into money down the drain, especially considering the current fuel price increases. “Excavators burn 3 l/hour of fuel when idling, which also equates to 8 kg of carbon emissions per hour. Additionally, idling hours impact warranty time, translate into additional service intervals, reduce resale value of used equipment and unnecessarily increase runtime hours,” says Naidu. 

The fuel consumption evolution is also made possible by the Cat C4.4 ACERT engine that provides a 107 kW power rating for the 320GC, while the C7.1 ACERT engine gives the 320 and 320 models 117 kW of power. The machines consume up to 25% less fuel than previous models with new Smart Mode operation which automatically matches engine and hydraulic power to digging conditions at hand, optimising both fuel consumption and performance. Eco Mode is said to offer up to 15% fuel efficiency, while Power Mode ensures maximum performance.

Referring to fuel burn data collected over the past five years across Europe, Africa, Middle East and Russia, Naidu says the new 320, for example, consumes about 10,1 litres/hour, compared with 14,3 l/hour on the 320 DL; 13,7 l/hour on the 320 EL; and 13,5 l/hour on the 320 FL, representing up to 25% less fuel consumption. “Compared with predecessor machines, engine rpm has been reduced from 1 700 to 1 650 rpm, without sacrificing power,” explains Naidu.

More efficient than single-fan systems, the new cooling system employs five electric fans, which independently monitor hydraulic oil, radiator and air-to-air aftercooler temperatures to deliver the exact airflow required. “With a new hydraulic system built for responsiveness and efficiency, all three models come with a new main control valve that eliminates the need for pilot lines, reduces pressure losses and lowers fuel consumption. Fewer hydraulic lines on the excavators result in 20% less oil required, lowering long-term operating costs,” says Naidu.

Reduced maintenance costs

According to Naidu, maintenance and repair costs constitute about 30% of an excavator’s operating costs. Offering extended and more synchronised maintenance intervals, the new Cat excavators do more work at a lower cost and reduce maintenance costs by up to 15% over their predecessors.

Featuring higher dirt capacity, the new Cat hydraulic return filter boasts a 3 000-hour service life, translating into a 50% increase over previous filters. A new Cat air filter with integrated pre-cleaner and primary and secondary filters extends service life to 1 000 hours, a 100% increase over previous designs, while a new fuel tank cap filter extends service life to 2 000 hours. The three fuel system filters each offer a 500-hour service interval.

“The new hydraulic tank oil return filter offers improved filtration, increasing service intervals from 2 000 to 3 000 hours. The anti-drain valve prevents contamination, while the de-aeration grid breaks bubbles and enables a smaller hydraulic tank,” says Naidu.

All daily maintenance checks for engine oil, fuel water separator, fuel tank water and sediment, and cooling system level are performed from ground level, making the routine faster, easier and safer. Consolidated filter locations reduce service time and increase uptime.

Operator in mind

Gone are the days when machine designs paid little attention to operator comfort. Forward-thinking OEMs such as Caterpillar understand that a comfortable operator is a productive one. In fact, Naidu says operators contribute significantly to overall machine costs, with up to 30% of operating costs directly linked to them. As a result, operator efficiency is of utmost significance in the overall productivity and operating costs of the machine.

To enhance productivity, safety and comfort, the cabs of the three models come with a range of standard features such as keyless push-button start and large 203 mm touchscreen monitor with jog dial keys for control to offer increased ease of operation. “The range sets a new benchmark with its keyless push-button engine start. This ensures security for the machine by using Operator ID codes to limit and track machine access,” says Adriaan Pretorius, Regional Construction & Key Accounts Manager at Barloworld Equipment. “Codes can be entered manually, via an optional Bluetooth key fob or smartphone app.”

Programmable joystick buttons for response and pattern allow the operator to dial in productivity settings. New advanced viscous mounts reduce cab vibration by up to 50% over previous models, thereby reducing operator fatigue. “Joystick pattern as well as response can be set to match operator preference. All preferences are saved with the operator ID and restored at log in,” concludes Pretorius.

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