Cat 349E Excavator Delivers More Power with Better Fuel Efficiency

By Rod Sutton, Editorial Director | September 13, 2011

Caterpillar 349E excavator beats its D-Series predecessor on fuel efficiency, the company says, while delivering more engine and hydraulic horsepower. Upgraded to Tier 4-I with its Cat C13 ACERT engine, the excavator has 396 net horsepower, 203 gpm hydraulic flow, and is 5 percent more fuel efficient.

The 349E has an idle shutdown setting that allows users to select how long the machine is permitted to idle. A “one-touch” idle-control feature reduces engine speed to low idle, then a second touch or joystick movement puts the engine back to high speed and ready to resume operations.

Another fuel-saving feature is the excavator’s isochronous speed control, which maintains constant engine speed regardless of load. It also has an economy power mode for use in less-demanding applications.

On the hydraulic side, an electric boom regeneration valve in the digging-arm circuit recycles oil between the cylinder ends during low-load, arm-in operation. This conserves fuel, too, the company says, by reducing the volume of oil that the hydraulic pump must produce.

The machine’s implement hydraulic system produces high hydraulic horsepower. This boost in flow provides added power compared to the D-Series. Main hydraulic pressure has been increased 9 percent to 5,512 psi with a heavy-lift mode. It also reduces engine speed and pump flow for finer control when lifting, the company says.

Caterpillar’s Clean Emissions Module (CEM) regeneration system has been designed to not interfere with operations and, in fact, regenerates without operator intervention. In automatic mode, the excavator continues to work as normal without any interruptions to the work cycle. A manual mode allows the operator to override the automatic setting.

The Cat13 engine operates either on ultra-low-sulfur diesel (ULSD) or a blend of USLD and 20 percent biodiesel.

Optional Cat Grade Control system uses internal front linkage sensors to provide real-time bucket tip position, resulting in less grade checking, fewer cycles to attain grade, and reduced fuel consumption. The system can be expanded to full three-dimensional capability by adding Cat AccuGrade technology.

Cab features include a new LCD monitor that is 40 percent larger, has higher resolution, and an improved keyboard interface. The new monitor also serves as a display for the optional rearview camera system, which can display two camera images simultaneously.

A selection of booms and digging arms allows tailoring the 349E to its application. Each boom and digging arm uses castings and forgings in high-stress areas. Buckets feature new geometry with the leading edge pushed forward, resulting in more efficient filling, higher production, and greater operator control. Buckets also feature improved wear resistance for corners and side cutters.

Access to routine maintenance items is improved with wider service doors (with redesigned hinges and latches) and a new two-piece hood. The water separator, with a water level sensor, includes the primary filter and is located in the side compartment at ground level. An electric priming pump is mounted on the primary filter base for easy access, and a new remote drain for the fuel tank is located in the side compartment. Relocating the oil check gauge and the engine oil filter further speeds routine service, and a new oil drain minimizes accidental spills. In addition, optional Fast-Fill and Quick Evac systems are available for engine oil and hydraulic oil.