Local 150 operator/trainers evaluate the all-new John Deere E Series ADT and walk away impressed with its solid, thoughtful design.
Equipment operators take note of machine features that make their jobs easier and safer—features that might seem minor, but can reflect an attention to detail that characterizes the overall design of a machine.
“I’ve seen operators with make-shift lights on their hats or trying to use the lights on their pickup when attempting to check the oil at four in the morning,” said Mike Evans, an instructor at Local 150’s (International Union of Operating Engineers) training facility in Wilmington, Ill. “So you have to like a machine that turns on a light when you open a service panel.”
Jeff Stapleton, Evans’s fellow instructor, was of the same opinion about a light that illuminated steps to the cab, with a timer switch at ground level and another at the cab door: “Small item, maybe, but it could save you a misstep when it’s wet or icy or your boots are muddy.”
Evans and Stapleton—both professional operators who work in the Union’s Apprenticeship and Skill Improvement Program—made these observations when taking a close look at a new John Deere 410E articulated dump truck (ADT), which the company had turned over to Local 150 for the day.
Mark Oliver, product marketing manager for Deere’s ADTs and scraper systems, met up with Evans, Stapleton, and Construction Equipment editors at the Local’s Wilmington facility to explain the development, design, and operation of the new 41-ton-capacity truck, which is positioned in the Deere line between the new 37-ton 370E and the 46-ton 460E, the latter, says Deere, being the largest ADT available in North America.
The 370E and 410E replace, respectively, two former D-Series II models, the 350D and 400D, but the 460E is a new size for Deere, and its capacity, said Oliver, allows it to work efficiently with Deere’s largest hydraulic excavator. Deere’s ADT lineup is completed with two remaining D-Series models, the 25.5-ton 250D and the 30-ton 300D.
Deere has been building ADTs in its Davenport (Iowa) factory since 2005 as a joint line with Bell Equipment, but the new E-Series models, said Oliver, reflect an all-new, all-Deere design that has little in common with the D-Series—“well, maybe the same tires and a similar cab layout,” he said.
“We actually began developing the E-Series four years ago,” said Oliver, “and from the start, we involved ADT users—an advisory panel of a dozen equipment owners and operators—who helped us evaluate the truck from concept, to virtual build, to physical build, to review of production units.”
Oliver began the day at Wilmington with a 410E walk-around, telling us that the advisory panel had urged that the new trucks be easy to service. To that end, he said, all routine service points are accessible from ground level, most of them behind the swing-out front grille, including fluid check points, filters (oil, fuel, and air), fuel fill, battery-disconnect, and remote battery post for jumpstarting—all illuminated by the light Evans noted.
The large, hydraulically driven, on-demand cooling fans, one on each side of the hood, are contained in swing-out panels, and each fan’s related coolers (including an engine-coolant radiator on each side) also swing out for easy access, further facilitated by a tilt-up hood. The fans automatically evacuate collected dust from the air cleaner, and rotation of the fans can be changed, in sequence, to create a powerful cross-flow that clears debris.
Although the 410E has greaseless bushings at a number of pivot points, said Oliver, the advisory panel recommended that the articulation/oscillation joint be fitted with grease zerks—and it is, eight of them, requiring lubrication only at 50-hour intervals. Oliver told us that the joint is completely new, incorporating a “stay-tight” design that uses an excavator-type roller bearing at each end of the oscillation tube, eliminating the need for periodic tightening.
The cab tilts for access to power-train and hydraulic components, and the same jack that tilts the cab also is used (by redirecting its flow with a tee handle) to release the spring-applied parking brake if the truck is inoperable. Available oil-sampling ports are easily accessible, as are the available environmentally safe fluid drains. A fast-fill option allows fueling the machine in less than two minutes. Also, the 410E uses only two oils: engine oil for the engine, transmission, and hydraulic system; and John Deere Hy-Gard in the axles.
“It’s obvious that Deere did its homework on the serviceability of the truck,” said Stapleton. “Having the hydraulic test ports easily accessible and positioning the fuel filters so you can pull them straight down, for instance, make things easier. And I like not having to do any climbing for routine checks—especially in the winter. I’d say this design pretty much eliminates the possibility of slips and falls.”
Front and rear frames are new for E-Series models, said Oliver, designed for optimum power-to-weight ratios. The dump body is now a solid-plate design, versus the ribbed design of the D-Series, and all bodies are ready for an optional exhaust-heating system, which uses a diverter valve to block exhaust flow to the body when the diesel particulate filter (DPF) is actively regenerating.
E-Series models use the Tier 4-Interim, 13.5-liter John Deere PowerTech 6135 engine (rated at 443 net horsepower in the 410E), which replaces the 413-net horsepower, 12-liter Mercedes Benz used in the 400D. The new engine uses exhaust gas recirculation for NOx control and the DPF and a diesel oxidation catalyst for particulate control.
Also new is the ZF Ergopower, 8F/4R powershift transmission with an integral, fully automatic retarder. Evans liked the performance of the new transmission, which replaces an Allison used in the 400D:
“The transmission is smooth—shifts down easily and shifts well on the straight. The machine has great power—took some pretty steep grades around here with very little speed loss. It handles very well.”
Axles for the E-Series are Deere’s purpose-built hauler type with inboard multi-disc brakes. Each axle is pressure-lubricated with cooled, filtered oil via its own separate circuit. Axle differential locks and the inter-axle-differential lock can be manually engaged (on-the-fly, since they use wet-clutch, hydraulic engagement) or can be turned over to automatic control if the operator prefers. An articulation sensor automatically disengages the axle differential locks in turns
Tires for the 410E are 29.5R25, with a wide-base 875/65R29 available. A tire-pressure/temperature monitoring system is standard and is temperature compensated for increased accuracy. A 10-percent drop in pressure triggers a passive alarm on the monitor, and further pressure loss or overheating results in an audible alarm and generation of an alert to a remote device via the machine’s telematics system.
“Tire monitoring is an innovation that I’d like to see on all hauling-type vehicles,” said Stapleton. “It can save expensive tires that might otherwise be ruined, and it’s obviously a benefit for the safety of the operator and others on the job site.”
Rear suspension for the 410E is a modification of the D-Series’s walking-beam type, but front suspension is completely new. Called John Deere Adaptive Suspension, the front suspension is electronically controlled and uses oil-filled struts and remote-mounted nitrogen accumulators. A switch behind the front grille allows the suspension system to lower the front of the truck some 8 inches to facilitate tying it down on a transport trailer.
When we solicited overall impressions from Evans and Stapleton after each had made an initial run in the 410E, the first comment from both was about the 410E’s ride. Said Evans: “The ride quality is great—loaded or empty.” Stapleton added that in high-speed turns, the 410E was exceptionally stable. “You can push the truck hard,” he said, “but it never gives you an ‘out-of-control’ feeling.”
Before Oliver turned the 410E over to the Local 150 crew, he pointed out the truck’s primary operating features. Among them are a rearview camera system, shuttle-shift feature, automatic-dump control, downhill descent control, and rollover protection system, which allows the operator to set (through the monitor) the maximum off-center position of the rear frame (from zero to 20 percent) before an alarm sounds.
“The rear does go over on occasion,” said Evans, “and you get a little red-faced if you’re the guy in the seat. The warning system is a practical feature, and I like being able to adjust it to conditions.”
Although both operators agreed that the rearview camera was a handy feature, both felt more comfortable relying on the mirrors.
“It’s probably just a matter of getting used to the camera,” said Evans. “We get so accustomed to operating in a particular way, that sometimes we’re hesitant about innovation—but only for a while, we adjust.”
“I can see the camera being really beneficial when you have to back up to an edge to dump,” said Stapleton, “or when the dump area puts the truck in a tight spot.”
Shuttle-shift allows directional changes without coming to a complete stop, said Oliver, because the system automatically reduces ground speed before allowing the shift.
“The shuttle shift works beautifully,” said Evans. “The system brings the machine down smoothly, then automatically goes into reverse. It’s a handy feature when you pull into the dumpsite.”
The automatic dump system, at the touch of a button, shifts the transmission to neutral, sets the service brakes, increases engine speed, and initiates body raise. The dump angle can be limited if overhead clearance is a problem, and the cushioned end-of-stroke feature for the dump cylinders can be deactivated if a “hard stop” is required to dislodge sticky material. The monitor shows the dump angle, and gear selection is limited until the body is fully down. Both operators gave the auto-dump system high marks—“saves repetitive actions on every cycle,” said Stapleton.
The 410E’s retarder force can be adjusted, explained Oliver, and the retarder will activate automatically when the operator releases the accelerator
“The retarder is very effective,” said Evans. “At 100 percent it will actually bring the truck to a stop—saves the service brakes. I like the idea of displaying the retarder setting on the monitor.”
Stapleton suggested that the design of the retarding system might also allow the operator to more easily control speed on turns: “On a sharp turn, you could adjust the retarder to low setting—maybe 10 percent—and get the control you need without losing too much speed when you lifted the throttle.”
If the new downhill descent control is engaged, however, the retarder will automatically maintain the speed at which the operator releases the accelerator during the descent.
“The descent control definitely makes negotiating downhill grades smoother,” said Evans. “It eliminates having to get back on the throttle if speed is too slow, or having to adjust the retarder if the descent is too fast. Downshifts were very smooth; some machines slam the gears in this situation.”
“The system is like down-hill cruise control,” said Stapleton. “It takes the guesswork out of where to set the retarder, and it saves the service brakes.”
Operator evaluations of the John Deere 410E ADT
“The 410E is a high-performance machine—lots of power—and some of its maintenance features are outstanding,” said Evans. “It obviously took a lot of thought to make it so operator friendly—with features that take some of the work out of our job, like the auto-dump and retarder control.
“I was impressed with the room in the cab—even with a buddy seat. I’ve been in some machines with a buddy seat and it’s crowded—you’re basically out the door. The truck has a great ride and a really comfortable seat that takes a lot of the jolt out of bumps. I could run the 410E easily for 10 hours.”
“The heated, air-suspension seat is definitely a thumbs up,” said Stapleton. “Visibility is excellent—A and B pillars aren’t blocking any critical points, and the mirrors are out far enough so they’re not distracting.
“The truck has ample power for uphill grades, and the descent control is excellent—simplifies operation of the machine tremendously. Deere has included a lot of features that make things easier—and safer—for the operator. Can you leave it here for a week?”