Following the successful launch in 2017 of the 20-ton size class models, Caterpillar this year launched its next generation of large excavators to further transform the industry.
The exclusive virtual-only event, streamed live in late January from the Malaga Demonstration & Learning Centre (MDLC) in Spain, saw the unveiling of its latest excavator models including the Cat 345 GC and the Cat 374.
The new next-generation Cat 345 GC excavator is designed to deliver a balance of performance, reliability, and low-cost operation. The excavator can increase fuel efficiency (cu m/tonnes per unit of fuel) up to 25 per cent and lower operating costs up to 30 per cent compared to the 349D2, according to Caterpillar. In addition, the new model incorporates significant engineering advances for safety and operator convenience.
The 345 GC has an operating weight of 42,200 kg and a maximum digging depth of 7,200 mm. Its fuel efficiency comes primarily from electronically controlled main pumps and valve to ensure more work gets done with each unit of fuel. Plus, two operating modes help the operator manage fuel consumption more actively: Smart mode automatically matches engine speed and hydraulic power for the highest fuel efficiency as working demands change; Power mode delivers maximum productivity in high-demand applications such as truck loading and trenching, says a spokesman for Caterpillar.
Extended maintenance intervals and easy access to consolidated filter locations combine to lower maintenance costs. Hydraulic, air, and fuel filters have increased capacity for longer life.
The 345 GC’s overall efficiency is further enhanced with telematics technology. Product Link, the on-board telematics system, automatically and accurately collects machine information, including location, hours, fuel usage, idle time, maintenance alerts, diagnostic codes, and machine health — all of which can be viewed online through web and mobile applications.
VisionLink provides online access to Product Link data, which allows the operator to make informed decisions that help increase productivity, lower costs, simplify maintenance, and improve job site safety and security.
The 345 GC’s cab environment is designed to reduce effort. All controls are in front to eliminate twisting in the seat. The ISO-certified, sound-suppressed ROPS cab is sealed and pressurised; large glass areas enhance all-around visibility. Narrow pillars at the front corners of the cab further contribute to forward visibility. A standard rearview camera extends rearward visibility.
Most machine settings are controlled through the high-resolution 203 mm touchscreen monitor, and a jog dial and shortcut keys are positioned on the right console. In addition, joystick function can be customised through the monitor to match operator preference, including operating pattern and response rate. All preferences are saved with the operator ID and restored at log in.
The 345 GC uses a keyless push-button engine start for added security, requiring operator ID codes that can be entered manually via an optional Bluetooth key fob or smart phone app.
To promote safety, many of the routine maintenance checks for the 345 GC can be performed at ground level with access to the air pre-cleaner, fuel water/separator, fuel tank and water/sediment drains, and coolant level check. Access to the engine compartment is facilitated with handrails, antiskid surfaces, and recessed bolts.
The 345 GC is available with a number boom and stick combinations, including a 6.9 m reach boom with a choice of 2.9 m or 3.35 m sticks. The 6.5 m mass excavation boom can be paired with either a 2.5 m or 3.0 m stick.
The 345 GC’s utility can be expanded with a variety of attachments. Cat buckets, hammers and couplers are available to help take on many tasks.
Meanwhile, the next-generation Cat 374 excavator offers contractors high production, two times more structural durability, and up to 20 per cent less maintenance costs than the industry leader it replaces, the 374F.
“A key to production is our new dedicated hydrostatic swing circuit,” says Brian Abbott, Worldwide Product Manager for Caterpillar large excavators. “The circuit enables regenerating swing brake energy and independent management of cylinder oil flow. What that means for owners and operators is higher operating efficiency and smoother, more predictable performance when multitasking with the excavator.”
Cat 374 has an operating weight of 71,700 kg, and offers a maximum digging depth of 8,570 mm, maximum reach at ground level of 13,160 mm and maximum loading height of 8,430 mm when equipment with a 7.8 m boom, 3.6 m stick, and SD 3.3 cu m bucket.
Three modes of operation are available: Power, Smart, and ECO. Power mode is maximum power at all times. ECO mode lowers engine speed and cycle times while maintaining breakout force. Smart mode takes the guesswork out by automatically matching engine and hydraulic power to digging conditions, reducing fuel consumption and optimising performance, Abbott explains. Engine speed automatically lowers when hydraulic demand decreases, further reducing fuel usage.
The cooling system features a new on-demand fan that’s designed to operate only when required, saving fuel and ensuring maximum efficiency.
“An additional key to production is simple, easy-to-use technology,” adds Abbott. “We make it available as standard equipment. In fact, the 374 has the industry’s most comprehensive offering of factory-installed technology in its size class – all to take an owner’s operating efficiency to a much higher level.”
Cat Payload helps operators increase loading efficiency with on-the-go weighing; real-time payload estimates can be calculated without swinging to help prevent overloading and underloading trucks. The monitor’s USP port lets operators download results from a single shift all the way up to 30 days of work with no need for an internet connection or VisionLink subscription.
Cat Grade with 2D gives operators visual guidance to grade via the standard touchscreen monitor so they can make more accurate cuts. The system is readily upgradable to Cat Grade with Advanced 2D or Cat Grade with 3D for enhanced accuracy.
Lift Assist is a new safety feature that helps prevent the excavator from tipping. It quickly calculates the weight of the actual load being lifted and compares it to the excavator’s rated capability. Visual and auditory alerts show and tell the operator if the excavator is within a safe working range, the spokesman says.
Whether equipped with a bucket or hammer, standard 2D E-Fence prevents the excavator from moving outside operator-defined points. Cat Product Link makes managing the machine easy.
“No matter how hard the work, the 374 is built to do it. Booms, sticks, and frames are twice as strong as those on the previous model — all to give owners reliable performance for the life of the machine,” Abbott says.