Test Drives

CAT® 745 Articulated Truck

US heavy equipment manufacturer Caterpillar’s flagship Cat brand has built a reputation around producing durable, reliable and productive machines, and its Cat 745 articulated truck – which it promotes as having been “designed for operators, by operators” – ticks all of these boxes and then some.

The 745, which has a 41 tonne rated payload capacity, is expressly decked out to deliver improved operator comfort and ease of operation, with the cab design having been re-engineered utilising global operator feedback, and this is underpinned by a range of features designed to maximise performance.

There’s certainly a lot on offer for operators – and, as WesTrac Product Manager Mark Turkington notes in assessing the 745’s various components, “you don’t really know where to start, it’s so packed with features.”

Mark highlighted the emphasis on safety and productivity, delivered via a number of features applied across the scope of operations – including Cat Detect with Stability Assist, Automatic Retarder Control and Advanced Automatic Traction Control – which, he said, combine to “all work seamlessly together, with almost no input from the operator”.

“It just makes it so much easier for the operator to do a safe job,” he told EEM, while also pointing to the 745’s digital capabilities, allowing operators to monitor operations in real-time, optimising operations and improving overall efficiency, and to track daily productivity from both in the cab and remotely.

“The computers are amazing, they sense everything,” Mark commented. “You can record every tonne that goes in the machine and where it goes – and, coupled with the rest of the machines on site, can track materials. It’s a winner, it really is a winner.”


First Impressions: A Spacious And Comfortable Cab

Right off the bat, operators will notice the size and spaciousness of the cab, which delivers ample headroom, and is decked out to cater for the operator and an additional person (for instance, for training purposes), being equipped with an adjustable air-suspension seat and a second fully padded seat, positioned adjacent to the operator.

I was impressed by how comfortable the 745 is, with the climate control system complemented by infrared reflective glass and integrated window blinds, helping to guard against the effects of bright sunlight, while the cab design contributes to lowering noise levels, and multiple storage spaces help to maintain an uncluttered workspace.

The control layout is configured to deliver simple operation, incorporating easy-to-use controls and gauges, with the dash, which features LED-illuminated rocker switches, designed to put all controls within easy reach of the operator.

A touchscreen dash-mounted display allows the operator to monitor operations and adjust different aspects of machine performance and conditions, including the video feed from the rear-view camera, while an optional Bluetooth-equipped stereo provides for operators to make and receive hands-free calls.

Meanwhile, a combined hoist/transmission lever, which offers both automatic and manual options, also provides for improved control and delivers operators “easy, intuitive control of gears and hoist functions”, paving the way for faster cycle times and less control movements, minimising operator effort.

Powerful Performance And Intuitive Operation

Powered by a Cat C18 ACERT engine, which is rated at 376kW net power and which meets US EPA Tier 4 Final/EU Stage IV emissions standards, the 745 is a robust performer, with its Eco mode feature having the capacity to provide an average reduction in fuel consumption of 5 per cent over normal operation.

Meanwhile, Cat’s High Density Power Shift nine-speed forward, two-speed reverse transmission features Advanced Productivity Electronic Control Strategy and Electronic Clutch Pressure Control, designed to deliver smooth gear changes with improved acceleration and higher productivity.

In putting the 745 through its paces, I found it to be a deft ride, with it having a neat turning radius and capable of functioning in tight little areas, complemented by oodles of visibility and smooth hydraulics, and it sports a number of features that I think operators will love.

For instance, Hill Assist reduces the potential of rolling back on grades – with the machine automatically holding the service brakes on for a number of seconds when the operator stops the machine on a grade and takes their foot off the pedal – allowing operators to power on and take off easily,  without any fuss.

Meanwhile, the Cat Detect with Stability Assist feature warns the operator if the machine is approaching an unsafe angle during operation, allowing the operator to stop and address what they are doing, and Advanced Automatic Traction Control and Automatic Retarder Control monitor a number of aspects of machine operation, providing for intuitive operation.

A Durable Design And Ease Of Servicing

The 745 has been built to deliver durability and reliability, with the front frame design featuring a large box section and wide, stiff frame beams to handle torque loads, designed to decrease stress in the hitch area and optimise suspension geometry, while the rear frame twin-box construction minimises stress concentrations, providing low weight with a long service life.

An articulating hitch provides steering articulation, with the oscillation ensuring all-wheel ground contact in rough terrain, while the dump body design has a large target area to provide consistent high loadcarrying capacity, and aids in clean material discharge, maximising production and avoiding carry-back.

When it comes to serviceability, the 745’s lubrication points are grouped in the hitch area to provide for ease of servicing, with service points mounted on the left side of the engine under the electrically raised hood, while the radiator package is located behind the cab, providing protection from frontal impacts and offering easy access to the radiator’s inlet and outlet sides.

The cab additionally tilts to the side to provide easy access underneath, simplifying access to the transmission, drive shafts and hydraulic pumps, with machine electrical and hydraulic interfaces located on the external right-hand side of the cab, behind a removable body panel.

Meanwhile, Cat’s Product Link wirelessly connects to equipment to deliver insight into how a machine or fleet is performing, tracking location, hours, fuel usage, productivity, idle time and diagnostic codes through the online VisionLink user interface, allowing operators to make timely, fact-based decisions, maximising efficiency, improving productivity and lowering costs.

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