Big-time Technology in a Compact Package

Aug. 25, 2021

John Deere is again proving its commitment as the industry's leader in advanced construction technology with its newly available SmartGrade™ grade control technology option on their 333G series compact track loaders. 

When the Keller brothers first demonstrated their self-propelled three-wheeled loader to fellow poultry farmers in 1958, little did they know that their solution to one dilemma would evolve into a machine that can handle hundreds of problem tasks. It's a rare contractor today who doesn't have a compact loader in his or her fleet. Tracked or wheeled, the market for compact loaders in North America is predicted to reach $9 billion by 2024, as reported by MarketWatch in May 2021, an 80 percent increase since 2018. MarketWatch says the anticipated growth is in part due to increasing US and Canadian investment in infrastructure, as well as OEMs continuing development of technology and attachments that make these highly maneuverable machines adaptable to applications ranging from agriculture to mining.  

This year, John Deere is taking the unprecedented move of integrating the company's SmartGrade™ technology into the 333G compact track loader. John Deere's well known SmartGrade™ control feature is widely appreciated by owners and operators of high-production dozers, motor graders, and excavators who require consistent grading accuracy and prefer not to deal with cables, masts, third-party vendors, and additional labor required to set up an add-on control system. Now the same precision technology that guides those John Deere's machines is available on the nimble and easily transportable 333G CTL.

"When you drive by a construction site these days, it's almost uncommon not to see a machine that doesn't have some kind of grading technology on it like GPS masts, cables and other attachments," says Luke Gribble, construction and forestry solutions marketing manager for John Deere. 

With the advent of grade control technology, site prep grading has been simplified and provided a level of accuracy and efficiency that can be a game changer for contractors seeking competitive bidding advantages.

Gribble says that while the 333G CTL won't replace a motor grader or dozer, it can provide just the right capabilities to step in where a larger grader or dozer left off. "Motor graders and dozers can get large jobsites to a good grade, then contractors can ship those machines to other jobsites to start moving large amounts of material and bring in the CTL for final grade work, for example,” explains Gribble. Another benefit to SmartGrade™ on a CTL is if the contractor's project is site prep that simply doesn't have the room to accommodate a grader's larger turning radius, or width for it to backfill up against a sidewalk, the CTL can easily maneuver around the jobsite and into hard to reach areas and get the same SmartGrade™ accuracy provided by the dozer or grader. 

Importantly, contractors told Gribble that they wanted grade control capability fully integrated and factory-installed in their CTLs. "Customers have been asking for this option for years, especially after the success of the SmartGrade™ dozer," he says. “Operators don't want to deal with cables, antennas, and other tack on hardware, and contractors need to eliminate the risk of grade control component theft or damage. Plus, John Deere's SmartGrade™ option eliminates the labor and time required for staking, which makes contractors more efficient and can save them on project costs. 

"Customers also came to us saying they wanted a dozer blade on the CTL that can do both cutting and grading," Gribble notes. In response, John Deere has designed a purpose-built new dozer blade optimized for the SmartGrade™ CTL's and made it exclusive to the 333G SmartGrade™ package.  And for customers that have become used to the controls on a dozer, Dozer mode allows the CTL controls to function exactly like a crawler dozer with just the click of a button on the SSM.

In addition to the 333G 3D grade control system, the CTL can be configured with many of the same options customers expect to get on a normal CTL, including John Deere’s boom performance package that automates features like return to dig, return to carry, and boom height kickout for bucket tasks, and electric Quik-Tatch™ so that they can switch between attachments if the machine is not needed for fine grading.

In addition, John Deere announced its JDLink™ machine communications platform subscription is now totally free to John Deere owners.