Following its world first unveiling at the CONExpo 2020 trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, the all-new Cat® D7 is now headed for Australian and New Zealand shores. Here Product Specialist, Peter Witte talks though this new addition to Caterpillar’s Next Generation dozer line-up.
Generating significant interest is the new D7 replacing the D7E model that was introduced back in 2010.
“The new D7 fits neatly into the Cat Next Generation Dozer lineup that now includes D1, D2, D3, D5 and D6 models,” Mr Witte said.
“The machine’s key features have been eagerly received overseas – particularly the return to the elevated sprocket undercarriage, 11 per cent increase in power, an additional 8 per cent weight gain and a bigger blade capacity – up 11 per cent to 7.4 m3 on the semi-universal blade.”
The improved capacity semi-universal blade adds even greater productivity when fitted with optional Cat Performance cutting edges. Performance cutting edges designed to more material per pass and faster, especially rock, clay, or hard ground.
“The blade focuses on a cutting action, so it digs deeper and reduces ‘skating’ across hard ground,” Mr Witte added.
One of the first specs buyers check on is the power train and the new D7 follows the technology lead set by the D6 and D8T models with a fully automatic 4-speed power shift transmission with a lock-up torque converter for added performance and efficiency.
“As mentioned in previous articles on the D6 and D8T, this powertrain system means the operator simply selects a ground speed for the work and the transmission will automatically shift up or down for optimal performance and efficiency to meet the work demand,” Mr Witte said. “The great efficiencies with the fully automatic transmission platforms we now see on the D5, D6 and D8 will also have the new D7 continuing to deliver benefits Cat dozer packages customers ask for – move more material at a lower cost.
“The D6 XE popularity has extended performance in its class and the new D7 with the fully automatic platform is further elevating performance efficiency in its respective class.”
The new D7 does have some very familiar features. Most notably, there is a return to the elevated sprocket drive – a decision made after feedback from owners and operators in the field.
“The elevated sprocket drive design represents a true modular approach where power train components are easily accessed for inspection, service or repair without interference with other systems,” Mr Witte said.
“All these design features are focused on getting the machine back to work as quickly as viable.”
“The elevated positioning of the final drives also remove this key component from material packing or impact loads transmitted when the machine is working in demanding underfoot conditions,” Mr Witte added.
The elevated sprocket design was first introduced with the legendary D10 and has now clocked up more than 40 years of service in some of the toughest operating conditions.
“Similarly, on the medium duty high drive dozer range the design is now approaching 35 years of dedicated service and now reaching the 175,000th model built,” Mr Witte said.
The new D7 also features the latest technology designed to aid both machine and operator performance.
Starting with the basics, Mr Witte said even the blade control technologies are designed to work seamlessly with the operator. “A new generation of Stable Blade complements the operator; assisting them achieve greater results when grading manually.”
Slope Assist allows the operator to set a blade slope and mainfall target and the machine will position itself to deliver for ‘on-the-go’ better grading performance without the need of a base station or additional hardware.
When needing to move with complex 3D designs, there is the proven, class leading, integrated Cat GRADE 3D, and Attachment Ready Option, using either GPS positioning or the Universal Total Station positioning technology for precision performance.
With the integrated GRADE 3D, the D7 now features a Blade Load Monitor, which provides real time feedback to the operator on the current blade load as compared to an optimum blade load based on the underfoot conditions the machine is operating in.
Add to this is the AutoCarry™ and traction control, which improves the blade load consistency by automatically preventing excessive track slip.
“These features work seamlessly in the background making the operator, and machine, more efficient in their daily work,” Mr Witte said.
Rounding out a complete technology package, the new D7 is also remote-control ready for the option for when needing to work in hazardous mining and earthmoving applications. The Command for Dozing option offers either the choice of a line-of- sight console or a remote operator station for smooth and precise control.
Some may recall at the last CONExpo in Las Vegas in 2018 where a D8T was operated from a remote station that was over some 2300km away ‘as the crow flies’ demonstrating this technology.
“The new D7’s built-in features will allow smooth integration of this technology when safety and efficiency is demanded,” Mr Witte added.
Inside the cabin, the operator station features all the next generation comfort and spacing improvements introduced on the previously released D5 and D6 machines.
A new 25 centimetre (10 inch) touch screen monitoring panel delivers improved interaction with operators.
“In fact, the new Machine Security System, when enabled, can allow an operator’s personal passcode, or ID, to be used to access the machine,” Mr Witte explained.
There’s also a separate Bluetooth key available that acts as the operator’s personal passcode to the machine security system and means they don’t have to enter passcodes all the time.
Another key machine technology feature is the remote connectivity.
“This means you can remotely connect to the machine and flash any necessary software updates when it is convenient to the operation,” Mr Witte said.
“This ensures maximum machine up-time while the software updates enhance the operation to ensure peak machine performance. Added to this is the built-in remote troubleshooting capability.
“Remote diagnostic testing on machines allows support from your Cat dealer to help define root issue identification and that means service requirements can be tailored – technicians arrive with the correct information, the right parts, tools, and instructions to make repairs in shortest possible time,” Mr Witte said.
The new D7 is now available in Australia and New Zealand and ready to deliver more productivity over the D7E and earlier D7R models.