Caterpillar upgraded three small crawler dozers with blade and traction technology that it says will drive up productivity by as much as 6 percent
Machine control is no stranger to Caterpillar dozers. Cat AccuGrade is standard gear on many Cat machines, including its K2 Series of crawler dozers introduced at World of Concrete this year. But according to Joel Fritts, market professional for small track-type tractors, who introduced the machines, the technology that Caterpillar has added are “industry-first features.”
“Stable Blade complements the operator’s adjustments to pitch as the machine grades,” Fritts says. Unlike laser- or GPS-guided blade control, Stable Blade does not actually move the blade, but it smooths out the operator’s control of the blade. It supplements the operator’s input, which Caterpillar says will reduce effort and fatigue while increasing productivity in finish grading. The sensor monitors the pitch rate of the tractor then makes minute corrections to the blade if the operator overcompensates.
“It’s not an automatic correct,” he says. “It is used in manual mode.” It can be overridden or cancelled by the operator.
Also new to the series of dozers is the optional Power Pitch feature, which allows the operator to adjust hydraulically blade pitch from the operator’s seat. When loading the blade, for example, the operator can select a more aggressive setting, then pitch the blade rearward for more blade-carry capacity. This function, Caterpillar says, could increase productivity as much as 6 percent.
All K2 models have hydrostatic drive with Traction Control to further improve grading productivity. Traction Control is also activated by the operator and will reduce track slippage by sensing and controlling track speed.
Caterpillar redesigned the machines as part of its efforts to bring them to Tier 4-Interim compliance, using the Cat C4.4 ACERT engine. Net power ratings increased by more than 8 percent for the D3K2 and D5K2, and nearly 10 percent for the D4K2.
The engine has air-to-air charge-air cooling, Passive Plus Regeneration, and a new electric fuel-priming pump.
The new Eco Mode system can improve fuel economy by up to 25 percent by reducing engine speed when maximum rpm is not required, the company says. Eco Mode has two settings—Forward/Reverse or Reverse Only—that are selected via the rotary throttle. Once set, Eco Mode automatically controls engine speed at optimal levels, delivering maximum engine speed and power when required.
The K2 models keep the basic design of predecessor models, including single-lever travel/steering control, spacious operator’s station with standard air conditioning when cab-equipped, single-lever blade control, Cat Sealed-and-Lubricated Track (SALT) or Cat SystemOne undercarriage.
Options on the K2 cab include heated/ventilated seat and heated joystick control handles.
Komatsu’s 264-horsepower D85-18 crawler dozer, aimed at large construction operations and small mining customers, features a Komatsu SAA6D125E-7 variable geometry, turbocharged and aftercooled Tier 4-Final-certified engine that the company says burns up to 5 percent less fuel.
The D155AXi-8 is another of the company’s intelligent machine control dozers that allows automated operation.
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