Meet the expert

CAT Forest Machines

Caterpillar Product Specialist, Ayden Piri explains the forestry fantastic five lineup and the 538 features.

Cat® Forest Machines are the choice for a wide variety of jobs in forestry industry, featuring high and wide undercarriages, heavy duty upper and lower frames.

Cat forest machines have versatile, purpose built platforms, a wide array of boom and stick combinations and attachments to expand the jobs that the forest machines can complete; sorting and loading in the woods, off-loading and stacking in mill-yards, harvesting, delimbing, processing, land clearing, road building and biomass handling.

Today, the Cat Forest machines lineup includes five core models that can be configured in over 20 different arrangements to suit several applications. These five fantastic are 320D2FM, 538, 548, 558and 568 and all designed and manufactured by Caterpillar engineers in Japan, USA and Brazil. All these machines can be configured as log loaders, Processors, harvesters or as road builders with bucket.

Cat Forest Machine power ranges from 158hp to 319hp and weigh from 27,330kg to 48,297kg. They feature optimised engine and hydraulics for maximum power and ultimate performance. Strong swing torque is a key factor in logging work and Cat Forest machines enjoy high swing torque, great lift capacity, powerful tractive effort that helps in steep slope and shovel logging as well as stability that boosts overall productivity.

Here is a short list of other features and advantages Cat forest machines have:

  • Smart load-sensing Hydraulics with regeneration valve that minimises pump flow and fuel burn
  • Steady-state speed control system that maintains a constant speed regardless of load to improve fuel economy
  • Proven and validated components that lower owning and operating cost
  • LCD monitors inside the cab with excellent resolutions for better visibility and control
  • Full-length rock guards maintain track alignment improving stability, performance and undercarriage life
  • Bucket, thumbs, couplers and grapples are just a few add on attachments that will expand machine versatility
  • Rear Entry cabs available on 548 and up models as an option
  • Goodman Logging is one satisfied 538 customer. Goodman Logging is using the Cat 538 LL to shovel logs into bunches for expedited yarding and also for stacking logs at the landing and loading them onto trucks.

Within a month of ownership experience with the new machine, the founder, Paul Goodman indicated that its performance has exceeded his expectations. The Cat 538 is equipped with a longer boom than Goodman’s operator was previously used to working with, so he had to adjust.

“Once I explained how to utilise the power and physics of the boom, especially when shovelling, he was really impressed,” said Goodman. “Our operator now raves about the new machine. He loves the reach, available power, low noise signature and heated seat.

“At this point we are going to all Cat machines,” Goodman said, “because they are purpose-built and have an exceptional back-up and supply system in place. I have considered other machines,” Goodman added, “most of which I have owned or hired over the years, but at the end of the day good back-up is vital, and no other seems to compare to Cat.”

According to Piri, the Cat 538 is engineered for durability and reliability with proven Cat components, purpose-built upper and lower frames, and increased cooling capability to maximise machine uptime. The machine features a wider track gauge and heavy-duty counterweight to maximise stability and operator experience in diverse logging conditions. Application versatility is enhanced with purpose-built boom and stick arrangements and new grouser options.

Uniform engine speed control maintains a constant speed regardless of load, aiding in unprecedented fuel efficiency. Other features also contribute to fuel economy. For example, with automatic engine speed control the machines revert automatically to a lower idle speed when there is a lull in operation. And the operator can choose from three power modes, depending on the work tasks or application, Mr Piri explained.

The hydraulic system delivers a higher level of efficiency and power. “Pumps are upsized to maximise hydraulic flow,” said Piri. “The engine can run at a lower rpm, burning less fuel, yet the Cat 538 has the needed power to perform more work.”

Other updates to the hydraulic system provide an impressive boost in performance: maximum flow, greater swing torque, and added lift capacity. The increases mean improved implement performance, lifting bigger payloads with better control – and more production.

An improved side-by-side cooling system increases cooling capacity. The radiator package has been updated, and fin spacing has increased to improve airflow and cooling capability. A standard auto-reversing fan with the ability to optimise fan blade pitch increases service intervals and maintains proper engine operating temperature.

The spacious, quiet, comfortable cab is pressurised and features a bi-level air conditioner, heater and defroster to keep the operator comfortable in any weather. Other features include heated and cooled seat, LED lights, satellite radio, auxiliary audio port for MP3 players and 12-volt power supply sockets for charging.

The Cat 538 was designed with the customer and service technician in mind and to be easy to maintain. Many service locations are readily accessible at ground level; critical maintenance can be completed quickly and efficiently. Optimised efficiency and proven reliability and durability add up to more machine uptime and lower ownership and operating costs. The combination maximises profit potential for loggers.

Caterpillar customers are supported by the industry’s largest network of dealers who will keep them running with parts availability, field services, state-of-the art diagnostic programs, remote monitoring, and more.

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