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Innovative earthmovers coming to market

A wide range of innovative earthmover solutions is now coming to market - Mike Woof writes

Generally with major construction equipment exhibitions timed for the second quarter of each year, this is when manufacturers will roll out their latest earthmoving solutions. However 2017 has turned out to be something of an anomaly, with the major firms continuing to unveil new models.

Firms have introduced new wheeled loaders, excavators, and dozers, although arguably, some of the most interesting developments are happening in the wheeled loader segment at present. Driveline technology has been a focus for firms for some time, with continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) having been introduced in recent years. Both Caterpillar and Liebherr now offer innovative machines using CVT transmissions that are said to be more efficient (and burn less fuel), by being able to match gear ratios precisely using electronic controls to the engine speed and load. The novel Liebherr machines have offered the combination of hydrostatic transmission for lower speed operation and mechanical drive through a CVT for higher speed ranges, with power modulated between both systems depending on the load.

Ever willing to offer customers a range of solutions, Caterpillar is also now introducing its innovative diesel electric loader, the 988K XE model. Weighing in at 52.8tonnes, this machine is designed for three pass loading of the firm’s own 770G and 772 rigid chassis trucks.

Rather than selecting a brushless AC type motor as used by John Deere in its 644K Hybrid and 944K Hybrid diesel electric loaders, which weigh in at 19tonnes and 53.5tonnes respectively, Caterpillar opted to use a switched reluctance (SR) unit. This motor type has been well proven in diesel-electric wheeled loaders, having been pioneered by LeTourneau (now owned by Komatsu) on its large mining models. Caterpillar has chosen to locate the SR motor within the chassis rails and using the same mounting points as the powershift transmission on the standard 988K model. This is powered by the SR generator, which itself is coupled to the 439kW Caterpillar C18 diesel that drives the machine. With only a single SR motor, the 988K XE retains the dropbox, driveshafts and axles of the conventional 988K. Although it features deceleration by motor retardation, there is (as yet at least) no storage of electric power for initial starting torque.

 Its load carrying performance is said to beat the standard 988K by 25% while in face loading that machine offers 49% greater productivity. However, perhaps the real benefit over time comes with fuel savings as well as lower maintenance and running costs. The diesel-electric drive offers a more gradual ramping up of speed, reducing driveline shocks. This is expected to boost engine life by 3,500 hours and with oil changes extended to 2,000 hours, the machine should use 40% less powertrain oil. Machine and fleet management tools, such as the Cat Product Link, VisionLink, Cat Production Measurement and Vital Information Management System, are the same as on the firm’s other units.

Volvo CE meanwhile is taking an even more radical approach with its hybrid wheeled loader, the LX1. A diesel drives the machine, which has battery storage and wheel mounted electric motors. But as it is a hybrid, the firm has been able to use a smaller diesel engine than would typically be used in a loader of its size. At the moment this is a prototype only (and around 98% of its components are for this machine only) but having been tested in Volvo CE’s facilities in Sweden, the machine has been trialled in various applications with customers. Analysis in two working operations in the US indicated fuel savings of 45% and 50% over conventional machines of a similar size. While further development is being carried out on the LX1, this machine points the way ahead for Volvo CE’s future wheeled loader designs.

On a rather more conventional note, Hyundai is now offering a new wheeled loader in the shape of its HL965 model. Designed to be rugged and reliable, the machine is said to offer increased uptime, lower operating costs and improved productivity. The use of high grade steels is said to maximise structural performance while the machines are also tested for performance and productivity as well in a range of different operating parameters.

Weighing in at 20.1tonnes the machine is driven by an electronically controlled Cummins QSL9 diesel rated at 200kW and which meets the Tier 4 Final emissions requirements. Loading capacity is said to be improved and it has a maximum axle load capacity of 44tonnes at the front and 35tonnes at the rear, while it runs on 23.5 R25, L3 tyres and a high lift XT version is also available.

Other improvements include a larger cab with better soundproofing and comfort, upgraded controls, LED lighting, a touchscreen providing machine health monitoring and an onboard weighing system. The buckets have been redesigned to boost fill factors while better access for maintenance is achieved by a fully retractable engine hood.

Moving down the size scale somewhat, Wacker Neuson has upgraded is 6tonne class WL60 and 7tonne WL70 loader models. Customers have a choice of different Perkins diesels, with power ratings of 55kW, 75kW and 90kW. The two more powerful variants meet the Tier 4 Final emissions requirements while the lower power model is in line with the Tier 4 Interim levels, as required for this output class.

Other improvements include better stability and loading performance, uprated hydraulics, revised braking systems, upgrades to the cab and controls, better machine monitoring and differential locks that boost rough terrain capabilities. Fuel consumption is said to be low for the respective classes while running costs and maintenance needs are also said to be low.

There are also new developments coming to market in the dozing segment from Caterpillar, Komatsu and Shantui. Caterpillar is replacing the current D6K2 dozer with the new D6K, which is now offered with a range of optional Cat Connect GRADE technologies, features that are integrated into the machine at the factory. It has the Cat GRADE with Slope Assist, which helps operators reach target slope fast by automatically maintaining the dozer blade’s established blade angles. Meanwhile the Cat Stable Blade monitors blade movement to deliver a smoother grade more quickly and with less effort and the Cat Slope Indicate displays machine cross slope and mainfall (fore/aft orientation) on the primary monitor. In addition, the D6K can be fitted with optional Cat AccuGrade package. This provides a choice of lasers for 2D flat-plane and slope work, Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) control for complex 3D cuts and contours.

Komatsu Europe International is introducing the D375A‐8 dozer, which weighs in at 73tonnes and is said to benefit from improved productivity and is powered by a powerful and economical Komatsu engine featuring the latest emission control technologies. The machine has a robust main frame and track frame, along with 20% more power in reverse, providing faster reverse climbing speeds in downhill dozing, lower cycle times and increased productivity.

The D375A‐8 is powered by the new Komatsu SAA6D140E‐7 engine, which is exempt from current EU emission regulations but is EU Stage V ready and delivers 474kW at 1,800rpm in forward gear and 578kW at 1,800rpm in reverse. For greater efficiency during long pushes, the torque converter lockup clutch can be automatically engaged. Engine power is then sent directly to the transmission, increasing ground speed and machine efficiency, for less fuel consumption and faster cycle times. Other upgrades included improved servicing and ease of maintenance.

The 10-model range of fully hydrostatic Shantui crawler dozers are now being offered for developed markets. The machines are said to feature good blade and track control, visibility and a new cab. The lineup includes four standard-track XL models that excel in hard and rocky soil, and six low-ground-pressure (LGP) models for soft ground conditions, with power outputs from 70-127kW and operating weights from 8-18tonnes.

The machines are equipped with the firm’s dual-path hydrostatic transmission system, which adjusts automatically to load conditions. The speed and direction of the tracks can be individually controlled for manoeuvrability and versatility. The hydrostatic system allows pushing a full load through turns without reduction of power or loss of momentum. Shantui hydrostatic dozer models come standard with six-way power-angle-tilt (PAT) blades. The dozers come grade control-ready and can be fitted with systems from Leica Geosystems, Trimble or Topcon. Optional rear ripper and winch options are available for all Shantui hydrostatic dozers.

A number of new excavator models are also available, with Doosan introducing improved models aimed at heavy-duty applications. The new DX160LC-5 HT excavator combines the upper structure from the DX140LC-5 14tonne model with an 18tonne high track undercarriage system, increasing ground clearance. The DX180LC-5 HT is an uprated version of the DX180LC-5, with a reinforced structure and a carefully re-engineered, high-performance braking system, offering a ground clearance of 615mm.  

 The DX160LC-5 HT weighs 14.5tonnes and the DX180LC-5 HT weighs in at 18.5tonnes. The machines are powered by the Perkins 1204F engine, which offers a high power density for its size, combined with low fuel consumption. The engine delivers an output of 81.6kW and 94.9kW at 2,000rpm, respectively, in the DX160LC-5 HT and DX180LC-5 HT. The Perkins engine meets Tier 4 Final emissions requirements and uses an electronically controlled, high-pressure common-rail fuel system to reduce particulate emissions. The engine also has no need for a diesel particulate filter (DPF), through the use of cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) and selective catalyst reduction (SCR) aftertreatment. An auto shut-off can be set for idling to save fuel, while Doosan has developed its smart power control (SPC) system to optimise pump output and diesel power. The auto-idling rpm on the DX160LC-5 HT and DX180LC-5 HT automatically increases from 800rpm to 1100rpm when the temperature goes below 10°C.

In addition, the new cab has improved controls and ergonomics as well as new systems for monitoring performance parameters. A side-view camera is available as an option and the control panel allows the views from both the rear and side view cameras to be combined on the same screen. 

JCB is aiming its versatile JZ141 excavator at the rental market and depending on specification, the machine’s weight ranges from 15.1-19tonnes. The machine replaces the JZ140 and uses the proven 55kW JCB EcoMAX engine solution from the conventional tailswing JS131. The reduced swing JZ141 is said to be the only crawler excavator in its class to meet Tier 4 Final emissions standards without the need for a DPF or an exhaust fluid additive. It offers a fuel saving of 20% over the JZ140, as well as benefiting from reduced noise levels in-cab and externally, a reduced tailswing for use in confined site conditions and the improved JCB LiveLink telematics data package. The machine can be ordered with a standard monoboom or with a heavy-duty HD version for harder digging applications and is also offered with or without a dozer blade

From Liebherr comes the R 980 SME crawler excavator, which is aimed at heavy-duty applications. It has a reinforced undercarriage for robustness and greater durability. It is equipped with the undercarriage of the next model up, the mining excavator R 9100. The R 980 SME is equipped with a new engine which now delivers 420kW and has the firm’s SCR technology, allowing it to meet Tier 4 Final requirements, without needing a diesel particulate filter

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