Cat skid steers and attachments are designed to work together to maximise productivity and performance. Rohan Mills of Caterpillar breaks down some of their smart features and technologies.
With applications across innumerable industries, the range of Cat® compact track loaders, skid steer loaders, and attachments are designed to offer versatility, customisability, and productivity.
Rohan Mills, Caterpillar® Product Application Specialist for Building and Construction Products, says the company’s machines and attachments are tuned to work together to deliver exceptional results and operator experience.
“Our in-house engineers design these machines and attachments to interact seamlessly,” Mills says. “All the hydraulics and controls are optimised to work together for performance and productivity.
“By combining Cat products, you’re getting the complete package, a one-stop shop.”
The electric advantage
Mills says the Caterpillar electric-over-hydraulic approach on its skid steer loaders enables a whole range of productivity, safety, and quality of life enhancements that would not easily be achievable with traditional mechanical or pilot controls.
The brain of any Cat vehicle is its Electronic Control Module (ECM). Caterpillar recently introduced its range of Smart attachments – including grader blades, dozer blades and backhoes – which are now fitted with their own ECM’s and communicate directly with the machine once attached.
Mills says that matching Cat skid steers with its electric-over-hydraulic control together with genuine Cat attachments enables an extra level of functionality and performance that would be difficult to replicate when using third-party attachments.
“When you connect one of our Cat Smart attachments to your Cat skid steer, your machine will recognise what the attachment is and automatically open up extra menus on the Advanced Display monitor” he says.
“This includes work tool mode, which changes the functions of your joysticks to optimise the controllability of that attachment.”
With this smart connection, operators can also access diagnostic data, such as how many hours of operation a particular attachment has accumulated.
“The real beauty of this system is the level of configurability it offers,” Mills says. “You can tailor the controls to the operator’s preference, as well as to suit the particular application.”
This allows different operators to dial in their preferred control scheme quickly and easily.
The latest D3 skid steer line also introduces an updated cab, featuring increased leg room and a wider opening door for easier entry.
The company’s electric-over-hydraulic system also allows for the cab’s modular design. Its ventilation system is all integrated, meaning the only external connection is a wiring harness.
Mills says this ensures the cab is extremely well sealed, which protects operators from dust and hazardous fine particles.
“Not only does this keep the cab clean, cool and comfortable, but it’s also very quiet for the operator,” he says.
The road to productivity
“Road maintenance is one application where Caterpillar’s smart features are really useful,” says Mills.
Via the ECM, the maximum forward and reverse travel speeds can be set individually. Mills says this can be very useful for congested work sites.
“Visibility is also really important, especially for paving customers,” he says. “The optional integrated back-up camera can be set to either always on, or switched on automatically when in reverse.”
The D3 series skid steer loaders feature a unique dual direction self-level, allowing attachments such as pallet forks to remain level while raising, as well as lowering.
Mills says another popular option is the speed-sensitive ride control, which the operator can set to activate at a specified speed.
“This acts like a shock-absorber for the loader arms,” he says. “If you’re travelling around with a load in the bucket, it will help improve your material retention. That can enable higher travel speed on the job site, where otherwise safe to do so.”
Mills says the Cat 246D3 high-flow skid steer loader paired with the Cat PC305 cold planer has become a popular combination, and is a great example of how Caterpillar’s products pair together to help maximise productivity and ease of use.
“When you pair a Cat skid steer with a Cat cold planer – that’s where you’ll find some features that really make the whole system start singing,” he says.
The Cat PC305 cold planer features a range of handy features, including a self-levelling design for consistent depth control, hydraulic side-shift for planning close to curbs, easily replaceable skid shoes that remain parallel to the ground to help achieve optimum stability, and the ability to put the machine into float mode to enable it to follow the contour of the surface.
Cat cold planers can also make use of Creep Control, which allows the operator to adjust maximum travel speed on the go. Mills likens the feature to cruise control in cars.
This is used in conjunction with the cold planer’s Max Pro Pressure Gauge, which informs operators of the hydraulic load on the drum.
“The gauge gives the operator a visual indicator of that sweet spot,” he says. “Then the operator can adjust the travel speed via Creep Control to maximise performance and productivity.”
The new Smart Creep feature, due to roll out later in the year, takes Creep Control to the next level.
Smart Creep uses a sensor that taps into the cold planer hydraulics, much like the Max Pro Pressure Gauge, and uses that information to automatically adjust travel.
“But where things really get smart is with the stall reversal function,” he says. “If the planer does stall out, the machine will reverse slightly, get out of the stall, and then proceed forward for a seamless cut.
“All the operator does is just keep pushing that joystick forward – it’s all done automatically. You’ll only get that when you pair a Cat machine with a Cat cold planer.”
Smart Creep, once released, will be compatible with all D3 series skid steer loaders and compact track loaders.
This article was originally published in the August edition of our magazine. To read the magazine, click here.
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