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Patching the Gap: the new Cat AP400

The AP400 fills a gap in the Caterpillar asphalt paver range.

Roads & Infrastructure speaks to Chris Harkness of Caterpillar for a preview of the new Cat AP400 Asphalt Paver, and what its flexibility will offer the Australian market.

The Cat® AP400 Asphalt Paver has been designed to fill a hole – not just down the road, but in the Caterpillar® paver line up as well.

According to Chris Harkness of Caterpillar, the upcoming 13.6-tonne paver fits nicely in the Caterpillar Asphalt Paver offering, which previously jumped from the 8-tonne AP300 to the 16-tonne AP500F.

“With the AP400, we think we’ve got something that’s going to round out our product line really nicely,” he says.

Harkness is Industry Territory Manager for paving products for Australia. Prior to joining Caterpillar, he spent 20 years with New South Wales Cat dealership Westrac – so he knows a thing or two about what Australian customers are looking for in an asphalt paver.

The AP400 features a simplified, single-console control system.
The AP400 features a simplified, single-console control system.

“The AP400 covers a lot of bases,” Harkness says.

“It’s identical in width to our larger 500 and 600 range pavers, but it’s a bit lighter and a bit shorter, which makes it easier to move around – great if you’re transporting multiple machines.”

He says the AP400 offers a simplified control system compared to previous models.

“It has a single console rather than a dual console. We also offer two options for grade control – either the full Cat Grade Control system, or the entry-level Basic Grade Control. So, it caters to people looking for value, but if you want to spec it up a little bit more, that can be done as well,” Harkness says.

Pave your way

The AP400 can be tailored to suit a contractor’s needs and budget – and Harkness expects it will hit the “sweet spot” for a range of customers.

“It’s great for car parks, driveways, and patch work,” he says. “But it’s a very flexible machine. You can also put extensions on it and take it out to six metres for those larger jobs.”

The AP400 will also become the entry-point in the Cat paver range for front-mounted extension screeds, which Harkness says have been increasing in popularity in Australia. 

“I’d say 75 per cent of the larger pavers sold here today have front-mounted extension screeds, so I think having that option – the SE47 FM – on this lighter, smaller paver will make it a popular choice,” he says.

“But we’ll also offer the rear-mounted extension SE47 VT Tamper Bar Screed, which is very popular in Europe and New Zealand, as well as the SE47 V which is a rear-mount extension vibratory only screed, without the tampers.

“The AP400 is all about flexibility. Whatever your paving style we’ve got all those options covered.”

Caterpillar will also offer either a steel or rubber tracked version, the AP455, for customers who prefer tracks to wheels.


 

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Safer, smarter communication

Harkness says the AP400 offers a compelling combination of user comfort and safety features to help contractors get the job done safely and efficiently, whatever the conditions.

Depending on the needs of the contractor and their working conditions, the paver can be accessorised with an optional ventilation system, canopy, windshield, and umbrellas on either the tractor or screed. 

“Because it’s a lower paver, you’ve got great visibility of the whole job site too,” Harkness says.

“You’ve got great capacity for communication, as it’s a relatively quiet machine – so you won’t be losing your voice after a day’s work.”

A range of options and accessories means the AP400 can be tailored according to needs and budget.
A range of options and accessories means the AP400 can be tailored according to needs and budget.

The AP400 also features easy viewing touchscreen displays with adjustable brightness to suit all lighting conditions – even direct sunlight. 

Simplified controls, customisable short-cut keys, as well as the option to automate processes such as the feed system, can all be combined, meaning operators can focus on the task at hand.

“Operating a paver is quite specialised, compared to an excavator, for example,” Harkness says. “But anybody’s who’s been around asphalt for a while will find the AP400 intuitive to operate.

“If you’re new to paving, there’ll obviously be a learning curve there – but the controls are all positioned in a way that makes sense. It’s not a complicated system.”

For communication beyond the job site, the as-standard Product Link Elite telematics system offers real-time data on fuel burn, idle time, and location to help operators maximise efficiency.

“This also provides remote access to fault codes,” Harkness says. “If a technician is going out to inspect a potential fault, this can help speed up the process by communicating what sort of tools and parts they might need to bring. Which helps get you back to work faster.”

Harkness says the support of the Caterpillar dealer network can offer
added peace-of-mind – particularly for smaller businesses without the benefit of their own workshops.

The Cat AP400 is expected to start reaching Australian shores in the second half of 2023.  

This article was originally published in the March edition of our magazine. To read the magazine, click here.

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