Significantly more powerful than the K Series, the new Cat® 950M and 962M wheel loaders deliver 10 per cent better fuel efficiency and a range of improvements. Earthmoving Equipment Magazine spoke with Caterpillar medium wheel loader specialist, Dick Mars.
Powered by a Cat C7.1 ACERT™ engine, the new 950 and 962 M Series wheel loaders come with major drive-train refinements, redesigned hydraulic systems, new cab amenities, electronic payload measurement, optimised Z-Bar lift linkage and a range of Performance Series buckets and work tools to suit any application.
“The engines on the new M Series medium wheel loaders feature proven Cat electronic fuel, air and exhaust after-treatment systems so owners can count on reliability, high productivity, and low operating costs,” Dick said.
With a net rating of 171kW, the new 950M produces 9 per cent more power than its K Series counterpart, while the 962M, rated at 186kW, offers 13 per cent more power.
“Peak torque is up an average 18 per cent for the M Series models, which means more useable power at the wheels,” Dick explained.
“In addition, the new productive Economy Mode automatically senses power-train load and adjusts the engine speed and torque to optimise the performance and fuel efficiency.”
Both the 950M and 962M use a new five-speed Cat power-shift transmission featuring a lock up clutch torque converter with lock-to-lock shifting and a single clutch speed shift system.
“The lock-up torque converter means the transmission remains locked during gear shifts, while the single clutch speed system keeps the forward/reverse clutch engaged during shifting,” Dick said.
Auto-shift features control the automatic shifting of the transmission and engagement of the lock up clutch.
“These two features work together to maintain more effective and efficient torque flow through the transmission during gear changes, which is especially valuable when the operator is accelerating up ramps.”
The redesigned axles feature on-the-go disc-type differential locks to improve the loader’s tractive ability in these applications and help to increase productivity.
These 950M and 962M both come standard with front axle differential locks that are manually activated by a floor switch.
“There’s also an option of fully automatic front and rear axle differential locks which work by measuring differences in axle speeds and don’t require any operator intervention,” Dick said.
“These disc-type differential locks will reduce tyre scuffing compared to other traction aids, and ought to help reduce operating costs for customers.”
A new external caliper disc parking brake is mounted to the input shaft of the front axle.
“This is a much more efficient system than fully enclosed wet-type parking brakes which require oil changes and other maintenance adding to machines’ running costs,” Dick explained.
“External caliper parking brakes also mean they are easily accessible for regular inspection and periodic service.”
The 950M and 962M hydraulic systems have undergone significant design changes.
“The main hydraulic valve is now a mono-block with an integrated ride control section which reduces weight.
“This will be common across all future M Series models,” Dick said.
Optional auxiliary third and fourth hydraulic functions can be factory fitted with the addition of a second remote valve.
The new ride control system now has two accumulators adding to its effectiveness when travelling loaded or empty adding to operator’s comfort. “If the operator is comfortable they will be more efficient and productive,” Dick said.
Full flow and kidney loop filtration systems protect the 950M and 962M hydraulic system components, and a filter in the hydraulic tank return line filters all oil returning to the tank.
“There is also a case drain screen for additional protection and finally, a separate kidney-loop filter with a finer micron rating to continuously filter smaller particles out of the system,” Dick said.
“This multilevel filtration design helps keep the hydraulic oil clean and that means the rest of the hydraulic system is protected from contamination.”
A new thermal bypass valve has been added to improve hydraulic system warm-up.
Operator Comfort and Efficiency
Improving operator efficiency was a key design goal for the new 950M and 962M.
“Ensuring operators are safe, have a clean, comfortable and quiet operating environment with controls that are intuitive and low effort, contributes to their confidence, lowers fatigue and assists their performance,” Dick commented.
“A new, optional, electro-hydraulic joystick steering is available on both models with speed sensing force feedback to further add to comfort and control.”
The M Series’ new multipurpose colour touch screen display dramatically simplifies the operator interface with machine controls, the reverse activated rear vision camera and the new fully integrated Cat Production Measurement system.
Intuitive navigation with in-language text allows the operator to modify certain machine operating parameters and monitor machine conditions with fingertip touch.
A centralised LED switch panel is fully sealed to protect from moisture and dirt and provides reliable and ready access to frequently required functions, even when the operator is wearing gloves.
“The focus on operator usability has also seen the addition of little touches like membrane switch ISO symbols that are moulded all the way through so they will not wear off, and a ‘help’ feature to explain each switch function.
“The control panel has also been streamlined and includes easy-to-reach highly utilised machine controls,” Dick said.
The touch screen display allowed the relocation of some expanded functions and eliminated the need for a second switch panel adding to the M Series simplicity and easy operation.
Safe cabin access has been facilitated with stair-like steps, repositioned grab handles and a wider door opening.
“Operators can even open the cabin door via a ground level switch in the electronic service centre,” Dick said.
“Once in the cabin, the operator’s visibility is enhanced with new hydro-formed ROPS posts, extended glass area on the door, and larger convex mirrors with integrated spot mirrors.”
Automatic climate control, low sound levels, and a vibration-dampening cab-mounting system have added to the M Series’ comforts.
A rear-vision camera enhances the operator’s jobsite awareness, allowing them to work with greater confidence and at a peak potential while keeping people and assets safe.
Advanced technology with Cat Connect
For owners wanting to further productivity, job-site efficiency and their return on investment, Dick said Cat Connect offers Product Link™, PAYLOAD and DETECT technologies.
Product Link tracks machine locations, hours, fuel consumption, idle time, events and diagnostic codes via the web viewable VisionLink® user interface.
Cat Production Measurement delivers on-the-go payload weighing through the in-cab display so operators can work more efficiently and deliver exact loads with confidence, he explained.
“The operator can view payload weights at a glance to ensure precise bucket and truck loading.
“The system indicates when the linkage is in the weighing range, allowing operators to confirm that an accurate scaled weight is determined.
“The system also allows operators to manually activate the tip-off feature for applications in which ’auto’ tip-off detection is not ideal,” he said.
The PAYLOAD system is integrated with VisionLink making it easy for site managers to monitor job site material movement from the office and help ensure productivity and daily production targets.
*Fuel efficiency is measured in mass of material moved per volume of fuel burned. Average efficiency improvement as tested and analysed for an average composite cycle and standard configuration with variations per comparable model with and without Economy Mode active. Factors influence result variation such as, but not limited to, machine configuration, operator technique, machine application, climate, etc.