Following the release of D6K, D6N and D6T track type tractors last year featuring power train enhancements and optional integrated Cat® GRADE with 3D or an AccuGrade™ Ready option, the medium D6T track type range now offers a new four-speed fully automatic transmission. Caterpillar Product Specialist Peter Witte details the latest D6T developments as well as improvements to the new Cat Track Loader family.
Last year’s release of a raft of new technologies on the D6K, D6N and D6T was designed to improve efficiency and has now been followed up with an all-new transmission on the latest D6T machine.
“The D6K, D6N and D6T all benefited from the introduction of the Cat SLOPE Assist™ as a standard offering and availability of the optional Cat GRADE with 3D feature,” Mr Witte said recapping the rollout over the past year.
“Cat GRADE with 3D not only eliminated conventionally fitted blade mounted masts and cabling, but presented performance improvements and operational safeguards that delivered results for owners.”
GRADE with 3D’s range of operation modes automate the blade movement including lift and tilt functions “delivering protection from overcutting below the desired grade during manual blade operation and that improves jobsite productivity and saves costly rework,” Mr Witte said.
The release package on these machines also offered a factory equipped AccuGrade Ready Option (ARO), which adds further versatility to 2D laser or UTS control as needed when satellite GPS system reception may be limited.
However, the latest enhancement to the medium duty track type range is a further real game changer, Mr Witte said.
A new four-speed smooth shifting, fully automatic transmission on the D6T offers a range of benefits and significantly ‘ups the ante’ in this class of machine.
The new powershift transmission now includes an additional gear between ‘traditional’ first and second gears and the exclusive Cat torque converter/divider, combined with a seamless lock-up clutch engagement, offers to the operator the ability to shift up and down more smoothly and automatically.
“What this means on the ground is that the four-speed transmission with lock-up torque divider works to continuously optimise the gear selection and engine speed for the application without any further operator input required,” Mr Witte said.
“Essentially the operator selects the ground speed required for the task and the machine does the rest in selecting an optimal engine speed and gear.
“With the smoother, automated selection of the optimal gear there is an improvement in fuel economy over the previous model by up to 10 per cent from what we have seen in global working fuel consumption reports over the last 24 months through VisionLink®.
“Field reports on the new technology suggest some operators say they cannot even feel the shifting of gears.”
The machine maintains the ability to change ground speeds easily in small (one tenth gear) or large (half gear) increments with simple thumb wheel on the steering tiller.
Machine efficiency is also increased with the lock-up clutch engaged when ground speed increases.
“This reduces the engine speed in order to maximise the fuel consumption performance,” Mr Witte said.
“When more torque is required for cutting a blade load, the transmission will automatically downshift, the engine speed will increase and the lock-up clutch will disengage to match the machine’s performance to the task.”
Further improvements on the D6T include a hydraulic system delivering better blade feedback to the operator and a new design rear ripper that offers a higher lift position for improved ground clearance when transitioning the machine between grades and better penetration when in use.
“The technology roll-out doesn’t stop there though,” Mr Witte explained.
“The latest 963K Cat Track Loader has now landed in Australia and will offer even greater fuel efficiency on job-sites.
“The K-Series has a more intelligent engine power management system.
“A new ‘Eco’ mode has demonstrated between a 10 to 30 per cent improvement in fuel consumption compared to the previous D-Series equivalent model over a range of work applications.
“When selected, the Eco mode automatically reduces the machine’s engine speed without affecting the selected ground speed under light loads.”
The hydrostatic drive with variable displacement pumps and drive motors are electronically controlled to deliver faster acceleration speeds but ensuring the operator maintains command to execute smooth machine turns and counter-rotations.
“Improvements include fewer hydraulic connections and improved pumps and drive motors are delivering improved efficiency and overall reliability,” Mr Witte said.
“Operators and service personnel benefit as well from the K-Series.
“A quieter cab design on the 963K offers a 73dB(a) interior, which is a 50 per cent reduction over the previous D Series cab, and there is a new easy to read LCD display conveniently offering machine data, settings menus and other information.
“Service personnel will rejoice at the fitment of a tilt function on the cabin, which allows easy access to all hydraulics underneath as well as the Cat clean emissions module.
“There is also swing out access to the radiator’s hydraulically driven fan and the radiator cores.”
The 144kW Cat C7.1 ACERT™ engine meets USA EPA Tier 4 Final, or EU Stage IV, diesel exhaust emission regulations with a low 2.5 to 3 per cent efficient use of diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) in a Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) system.
For the operator, both the diesel and DEF fill points are easily accessible from the ground.
In more good news for Cat Track Loader owners, the Cat Performance Series buckets seen on the Cat Wheel Loader range are now available on the Track Loader line-up.
“These buckets have delivered improved productivity on the wheel loader range offering easier and faster loading times, greater fill factors and improved material retention.
“The improvement in material retention and fill factor assists in delivering overall fuel economy benefits in productivity to fuel used.
“The buckets allow the operator to maximise the machine’s material movement performance.”
The Cat Fusion coupler has also been developed for the 963 track type loader and offers a range of work tools and attachments.
The new 963K is also available from the factory for the first time in low ground pressure configuration.
“A wider track gauge now allows 800mm wide track shoes as an option over the standard 550mm track shoes on the standard gauge machines making it an ideal machine for softer ground conditions.
A 3m wide General Purpose bucket with 2.8 cubic metre capacity complements the wider track shoe machine.
“There is also a dedicated waste management package that addresses the specific requirements of demanding landfill operations,” Mr Witte said.
“Owners should not forget the Cat Product Link and Vision Link remote monitoring technology options for machine security, data and health checks,” Mr Witte said.
The new D6T and 963K Track-Type Tractor and Loader further continues to demonstrate, and lead, with improved operating efficiencies to the construction industry.