In previous issues of Earthmoving Equipment Magazine, we examined the latest technology available in the D6T and D8T Cat® track type tractors. Now, Product Specialist Peter Witte details exciting developments unveiled recently at the prestigious Bauma construction equipment exhibition in Germany.
“It is exciting times at the moment as Caterpillar® continues to roll-out new levels of performance and efficiency in track type tractors with the Next Generation machines displayed at the recent construction machinery trade fair, Bauma 2019, in Germany,” Mr Witte said.
“Rewriting the rules and elevating your performance is certainly what the Next Generation Cat D6 delivers.”
Working off the recent update that included a fully automated four-speed transmission with a lock-up torque converter as detailed in previous issues, Mr Witte said the latest improvements would benefit owners and operators.
“As you may remember the fully automatic four-speed transmission provides an additional gear between the traditional first and second gear speeds, allowing the operator to simply select the ground speed for the work with the tractor doing the rest,” he said.
The Next Generation D6 brings a range of additional efficiency gains to the mix.
“We engaged with hundreds of customers from all over the world in various industries and applications to understand their needs and how those needs have evolved.
“We took the efficiency gains delivered with the D6T and added much more with the Next Generation D6,” Mr Witte said.
Improvements include reducing maintenance costs, adding versatility, improving operator comfort and the operator’s interface with the machine.
“We have focused on further lowering operating costs beyond fuel consumption by targeting about two-thirds of the areas that traditionally affect machine maintenance costs,” Mr Witte said.
“For example, maintenance costs have been reduced by up to 10 per cent based on the application environment by reducing the number of service periods, grouping service points, eliminating filters, redesigning structures and further improving service access to components.”
Mr Witte said another area of evolving need identified by customers was machine versatility. “This has been addressed with determination,” he said. “Needs ranged from heavy production requirements to versatility in working in different applications and getting to jobs quicker.
“We have answered these demands by increasing blade capacities and providing dedicated machine configurations, to ideally suit applications.
“We looked at the versatile Variable Power Angle and Tilt blade (VPAT) and completely redesigned it in a dedicated configuration to improve its balance and versatility in applications from first cut to final trim,” he said.
“This variant of the D6 has a new blade structure, improved hydraulic performance and balance for improving operator control.”
The VPAT configuration now offers a standard 2.08m gauge, a wide 2.29m gauge and a new 2.39m extra wide gauge providing a lower ground pressure of just five PSI.
“A foldable blade option reduces the overall width for transport purposes, adding versatility and making transport to jobs quicker and easier,” Mr Witte said.
The foldable blade allows a 4.1m wide VPAT blade used on a 2.29m wide gauge, low ground pressure (LGP) machine to fold to under 3.0m wide.
With the widest shoes in this same gauge machine, the overall width is less than 3.5m with blade “folded”.
“This maintains the high level versatility and productivity of the wide VPAT blade and makes the machine more readily transportable,” Mr Witte said.
Another feature is the fine grading track frame option. “Customers in the D6 class machines in grading duties are really going to benefit here,” he said.
Adding two more track rollers – taking it from an eight to 10-track roller frame – brings a significant platform improvement for precision high speed grading applications.
Further on the grading front is the new integrated 3D grade technology that uses IMU sensors and offers a large 10-inch touch screen interface.
“The Inertia Measurement Unit (IMU) sensors deliver faster performance, are purpose built for the D6 and are fully factory integrated,” Mr Witte said.
“A faster performing integrated 3D Grade technology, a fine grading track frame platform and a foldable VPAT blade for ease of transport, makes this D6 a high performance, versatile LGP machine ready for a wide range of applications.”
Other features such has Cat GRADE with Slope Assist™ that provides basic blade positioning assistance without the need for added hardware or a GPS signal remains available.
The operator will also notice the larger, quieter cabin features and an integrated ROPS structure offering enhanced side visibility.
“Another smart feature is the new instrument monitor interface, which now also includes a rear camera view for safe reversing and full touch screen operation,” Mr Witte said.
“One big plus for operators using the optional GRADE 3D system is the ability of the GRADE monitor and instrument monitor to be switched satisfying operators that prefer to have the grade screen mounted higher in their peripheral vision or vice-versa.”
Improving on a machine of this specification and capability might seem a big task but Caterpillar now also offers the D6 in a premium XE configuration – the world’s first elevated sprocket electric drive powertrain.
“This represents a major expansion of the traditional performance configuration D6 to a premium XE model offering even greater levels of technology and delivering higher efficiency,” Mr Witte said.
“The new premium XE configurations add up to 15 per cent production/fuel efficiency with the electric drive power train over the fully automatic 4-speed power train.”
The D6 XE is similar in concept to the D7E introduced in 2009 but differs markedly as the technology has advanced, Mr Witte said.
The D6 XE is simpler in a more power dense design using fewer electronic control modules.
“It is the same principle where a diesel engine powers a generator delivering electricity to the final drives with inverters controlling the energy demand and electricity flow,” he explained.
The electric drive powertrain offers advanced technology in power delivery, improved steering performance, lower sound levels, has near 90 per cent fewer rotating parts than a traditional mechanical drive machine and can save up to 70 per cent on rebuild costs.
“These electric drive components remain fully sealed and liquid cooled, so the whole system performs efficiently and reliably in the most demanding dozer applications,” Mr Witte said “Like the powertrain in a high drive dozer, the XE Electric Drive components are completely modular, so internal components are accessed quickly and efficiently.”
“There’s a lot more we can talk about on the Next Generation D6 track type tractor range and there is plenty to surprise you,” he said.
“We continue to innovate with our class leading machine line-up and rewrite the rules to maintain leadership in technology and performance.”
[colored_box color=”yellow”]For more information visit https://www.cat.com/en_AU/[/colored_box]