Latest excavator tech enhances efficiencies

By |  March 14, 2018

Photos courtesy of Caterpillar

With the debut of its next generation of 20-ton size class excavators, Caterpillar introduced interesting new technologies that the company says will eventually show up in larger-size machines. Cat says the new 320 GC, 320 and 323 excavators provide new efficiencies through the use of advanced features, such as integrated Cat Connect Technology, which is designed to increase operating efficiency by up to 45 percent over traditional operations.

Offering guidance for depth, slope and horizontal distance to grade, the Cat Grade with 2D system helps operators reach desired grade quickly and accurately. Standard Grade Assist automates boom, stick and bucket movements, so operators stay on grade simply and effortlessly with single-lever digging.

Cat Payload on-board weighing delivers precise load targets and increased loading efficiency, according to the company, with on-the-go weighing and real-time payload estimates without swinging to prevent truck over/under-loading.

And Cat Link hardware and software connect work sites to the office and provide users with machine-critical operating information.

These new Next Generation machines consume 20 to 25 percent less fuel than the previous, corresponding models, says Cat, and new Smart mode operation automatically matches engine and hydraulic power to digging conditions, optimizing both fuel consumption and performance. Engine speed is automatically lowered when there is no hydraulic demand. This further reduces fuel usage.

More efficient than single-fan systems, a new cooling system employs multiple electric fans, which independently monitor hydraulic oil, radiator and air-to-air aftercooler temperatures to deliver the exact airflow required.

A new hydraulic system is built for responsiveness and efficiency. It features a new main control valve that eliminates the need for pilot lines, reduces pressure losses and lowers fuel consumption. Fewer hydraulic lines on the excavators result in 20 percent less oil required, lowering long-term operating costs, Cat says.


Photo courtesy of Caterpillar

Caterpillar’s three new excavators offer a glimpse into some of the new technologies on the horizon for quarry-size machines.

While some of the features of Cat’s next-generation machines are only available in the new 20-ton class units – for now – quarry-size excavators already provide many high-tech features, such as VisionLink. Through the use of Cat’s VisionLink technology, users can:

◾ Track equipment location
◾ Monitor equipment usage
◾ Monitor and manage fuel consumption
◾ Identify operators needing training
◾ Plan and schedule maintenance

VisionLink is integrated with Cat Product Link hardware to create a telematics system providing a wealth of information based on data from machine sensors and control systems. Product Link hardware is standard on most Cat equipment and can be used to retrofit both Cat machines and machines from other manufacturers.

VisionLink includes a suite of apps enabling the customer to select a view and information based on the user’s role or task needing to be performed. Theses apps can be easily accessed for quick reference and easy viewing. For example, equipment or fleet managers can access data related to asset hours, location and utilization without having to sort through extraneous information.

The VisionLink Unified Fleet app, developed for equipment managers and owner/operators, features easy and intuitive views of information such as hours, miles, location, idle time and asset status.

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About the Author:

Darren Constantino is an editor of Pit & Quarry magazine. He can be reached at

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