Since revolutionising motor grader design less than two decades ago Caterpillar has continued to unveil new grading technology to meet the performance and business needs of all customers – big and small. The latest release, the 120, delivers a range of steering, control and technology options to satisfy the requirements of multi-machine fleets through to owner operators. Caterpillar Product Specialist Darren Hodge explains.
When the revolutionary M Series motor grader range was released 14 years ago it delivered total machine control via three-axis joysticks – a technology that has been now imitated by nearly every other manufacturer with eight out of 10 graders sold in Australia now featuring joystick style controls.
With a similar approach to that used in developing the joystick system, Caterpillar has now unveiled new machine technology to meet the needs of the ‘20 per centers’ – the grader owners and operators who prefer – or love – having their hands on a wheel and direct action control levers, and, the certainty and sure performance of a Cat® machine.
“There is possibly no better indicator of Caterpillar listening closely to its customer needs than the introduction of the new 120 motor grader, Caterpillar Product Specialist Darren Hodge said.
“With the M Series filling the needs of 80 per cent of customers in the motor grader market we have chosen to not ignore the needs of those seeking an alternative.
“Many other suppliers followed our lead with machines featuring hybrid two-axis arm rest levers and joystick variants for implement and steering control but these machines included a traditional steering wheel,” Mr Hodge explained.
“Caterpillar recognises that some operators like the competitive machine’s hybrid arm-rest controls but find that moving their hands from the controls to steering wheel has a major impact on control and performance.
“Having to move your hands from the controls to steering can affect the grading outcome,” he said.
Ideally, in a technical craft such as grading, operators should enjoy seamless multi-function control between implements and steering.
“And this is where the new 120 Motor Grader will excel as it has been designed with the best of both worlds – either dedicated joystick controls or traditional steering wheel and lever controls.
“Both control options deliver great outcomes for operators,” Mr Hodge said.
The choice of joystick or traditional steering offers better multi-function operation with either system.
Mr Hodge said the new 120 had enjoyed early success with sales of both control options.
“The new steering wheel and direct acting implement levers allow operators to steer and move the blade easily due to the close positioning, low effort and short throw levers – just like they were used to on previous H Series Cat graders,” he said.
“The new 120 is based on what we call a common platform or chassis, meaning it has shared design, frame and powertrain but provides customers with multiple choices in controls, technology, and tandem or all-wheel drive.”
The 120 will meet the needs of all customers in a range of applications from basic re-sheeting and maintenance grading applications through to high performance finish grading.
“The only departure from the previous proven machine design is in the exciting new cabin,” Mr Hodge said.
“Caterpillar engineers understand an operator’s need for optimum visibility whilst grading and so developed two versions of the cabin each designed to ideally complement the steering control option.
“This provides much improved all round visibility particularly to the sides and over the shoulder,” Mr Hodge said.
“The joystick version of the new 120 range retains the angled front design with great visibility to the heel of blade through to the front axle, whilst the lever model has the traditional square front with wide forward visibility.
“The new cabs share the same side and rear design but with much improved visibility,” he said.
“The traditional B-Post (ROPS structure) restricted some visibility but with our new design the main ROPS structure is moved to the centre rear of the cabin ‘spine’ enabling a frameless side and rear corner window design and helping to deliver industry leading operator side and rear vision which in turn maximises comfort and safety,” Mr Hodge said.
A number of new features have been introduced with the 120 to help reduce maintenance and offer multi-level scalable blade slope solutions.
The new Cat C7.1 engine boasts lower fuel consumption and includes an additional ECO mode control delivering up to five per cent less fuel consumption.
“For customers with multiple machine fleets including dozers, wheel loaders and excavators we use the same suite of new Next Generation cartridge in canister filters so customers don’t need to carry multiple sets of different filter replacement parts,” Mr Hodge said.
“These filters extend maintenance intervals for lower operating costs and importantly help the environment with the re-usable canister meaning less waste is going to landfill.”
The suite of control options available on the 120 reflects how much grading technology needs have also changed significantly over the years.
The 120 offers scalable 2D multi-level blade slope readiness and auto control options including a blade slope attachment ready option that features a Grade technology wiring harness, sensor and mast mounting points.
A digital Blade Slope Meter feature sees the 120 fitted with an Inertia Measuring Unit (IMU) blade slope sensor with a display on a fully integrated monitor.
The Cat Grade with Cross Slope indicate only option includes mainfall, blade slope/pitch and circle rotation sensors for true cross slope angle correction.
The Cat Grade with automatic Cross Slope blade control option includes sensors and controls for machine positioning corrections, blade slope auto settings – all of which are displayed on the integrated monitor.
The factory integrated hardware, sensors and controls can be utilised when the machine is fitted with advanced 3D GPS or UTS technology provide for a much lower technology entry point.
Mr Hodge said other advanced operator assistance technologies traditionally only seen on the larger machines were now also optional on the new 120 motor grader:
“Auto Articulation reduces operator fatigue and boosts production as the machine automatically articulates with front steering operation, and the Stable Blade option delivers a better surface finish and greater productivity by using an accelerometer sensor to read any machine bounce and automatically reduce the machine speed to help deliver for a smoother finished surface and help prevents reworks.”
Mr Hodge said owners and operators could expect to see more Cat Graders designed to meet a range of needs all featuring precision operation, greater comfort and control options.
As a valued customer, your Cat® dealer knows what you’re looking for: value, reliability, good service and support for the life of your machine. By structuring the right aftersales agreement, they can provide you with options to help you lower the cost of owning your Cat machine and maximise your investment. What’s more, you’ll enjoy peace of mind thanks to the asset insights provided by Cat Equipment Health Management tools. That’s Aftermarket Smarts.
Speak to your Cat dealer about the Cat Customer Value Agreement that’s right for you or visit www.Cat.com/CVA-au