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Ease of Use features come to Cat® Mini Excavators

A Cat 306 CR Mini Excavator digging on a work site

EEM chats to Rohan Mills about the benefits of the new Cat® Ease of Use technology suite, now available within the Mini Excavator range.


For earthmoving businesses and operators whose bread and butter is working in smaller machines – life is about to get a whole lot easier.

Rohan Mills ofCaterpillar Australia seated in the cab of a Cat Mini Excavator
Rohan Mills,
Caterpillar Australia.

Cat Next Generation Mini Excavators, including the 306 CR, 308 CR, and 309 CR models, can now be fitted with new technology features called E-Fence and Indicate to improve productivity and accuracy on the jobsite.

Offering similar features previously found only in the larger Cat excavator models, this suite aims to simplify machine operation while improving accuracy and enhancing productivity. This is designed to help operators work more efficiently and safely – regardless of their experience level.

To learn more, EEM caught up with Cat Expert Rohan Mills at William Adams in Melbourne to delve into this technology, and see it in use on the Cat 306 CR Mini Excavator.

Rohan says there are several key elements which contribute to what they are calling the “Ease of Use” suite, but the beauty of the system is its usability and functionality – enabling operators of any experience level to take advantage of these features after just basic training.

Cat Ease of Use features are available on new 306 CR, 308 CR, and 309 CR models

“Machines with Ease of Use fitted include a group of sensors located on the bucket linkage, stick, boom, boom swing, and swing motor,” Rohan says. “This ensures the machine – and therefore operator – always knows precisely where the bucket is relative to the undercarriage.”

Data from these sensors is what drives the key Ease of Use features called E-Fence, Indicate and Assist.

According to Rohan, these features are generating excitement among customers who are eager to take advantage of the many jobsite benefits they create.

“Ease of Use technology offers a level of confidence to those looking to embrace the latest technology, meet deadlines, and help avoid expensive damage to infrastructure and the machine itself,” he says.

E-Fence prevents the excavtor from encroaching on the set boundaries – ideal for work in tight areas.


E-Fence allows operators to constrain the machine’s range of motion according to custom boundaries.

This can be enabled quickly and easily by navigating through the menu on the advanced Cat touch screen monitor. E-Fence can be selected within the Ease of Use menu, and the operator can then set the desired movement limitations. These can be adjusted independently for ceiling, wall, floor as well as left and right swing. The operator will then be unable to move the bucket past those points, regardless of control inputs.

This helps prevent unwanted contact with any object outside the E-Fence boundaries – particularly beneficial when working near overhead power lines, traffic or buildings, or even with known but hidden underground utilities nearby.

Indicate lets the operator know where the excavator bucket is relative to the target grade.


The Indicate feature provides both visible and audible indications of where the bucket is relative to target grade.

Rohan explains: “If, for example, you want to dig a 2m-long trench with a particular specification, you simply enable Indicate on the Ease of Use menu, and set your required length, depth, grade, and offset.

“Once this quick and easy process is completed, you’ll receive colour-coded displays on the touchscreen showing your bucket position relative to the design. As you get close, the indicator on the screen turns from yellow to green as you reach the desired position.”

Rohan says this easy-to-understand colour-coded diagram ensures operators know when the bucket is at the correct angle, offset, and position to create an accurate trench.

“This reduces the chance of accidently over or under digging, potentially saving hours of correction work at a later time or the added cost of over-filling with expensive materials like concrete,” he says. “This also reduces the need for additional workers on the ground outside the machine to check levels, distances, and depth.”

Swing Assist allows the operator to return to a precise point over a trench.


An additional feature made possible by both E-fence and Indicate is Assist, which incorporates both Swing Assist and Bucket Assist features.

Bucket Assist, activated via the advanced monitor, automatically maintains the last known bucket position, and keeps the angle consistent relative to the machine.

Swing Assist, also activated in the advanced monitor, stops the excavator’s swing function at a pre-set point, allowing operators to quickly and accurately return to trench, as well as set a consistent dump target.

“The main difference between Swing and Bucket Assist and the E-Fence mode is that E-Fence will restrict any movement outside the set parameters, whereas Swing and Bucket Assist allow the operator to override the set parameters with an additional joystick control input,” Rohan says.

This lets the operator use Swing and Bucket Assist to dig with pin-point precision, but also allows more freedom and flexibility to move past set points as required.

Five sensors drive positional data to the machine control unit.

Ease of choice

Rohan expects Cat Ease of Use technology to have as much of an impact in the Mini Excavator range as it has for the larger Cat Next Generation models.

With a range of overlapping benefits, the Ease of Use suite offered by Caterpillar will enable operators of all experience levels to operate more efficiently and consistently.

Ease of Use technology can be included on machines straight out of the factory. Existing machines, if Ease of Use ready (based on build date), can have the suite retrofitted.

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