Packing a Punch - Next Generation Cat Excavator

06 November 2020

The Next Generation Cat 313 excavator with an integrated 2D or 3D system is a bright light on the horizon. One of the first models has arrived at Whanganui-based civil construction company Loaders Wanganui.

Designed to punch way above its weight card, the 13-tonne excavator comes with a massive amount of advanced technology packed into its design. It’s both cutting-edge and cost-saving in a multitude of ways.

Terra Cat’s manager for general construction industries Tim O’Meara explains: “The Cat 313 is the first next generation excavator in the 13-to 15-tonne size class with this level of factory installed on-board technology released in New Zealand. Loaders Wanganui have taken the first Cat 313 factory 3D enabled machine. It’s impressive that they are embracing and adapting to this new technology.”

Loaders Wanganui is a third-generation business and has always favoured the Cat brand. The business carries out a wide variety of civil works in the Whanganui district, from roading and drainage to building site works, retaining walls, subdivisions, aggregate supply, machinery transport, traffic management, hydro excavation, forestry roading, and machine hire. Loaders Wanganui wanted an environmentally friendly machine, and the Cat 313 is that, having met Environmental Protection Agency Tier 4 Final and European Union Stage V emission standards.

“The Cat 313 has been set up for forestry, drainage, and site works, and we will use it for everything,” says Loaders Wanganui managing director Justin Loader.

Equally impressive is the manufacturer’s claim that Cat 3D Grade technologies and efficiencies can equate to up to 20 percent savings in maintenance costs and improve productivity by up to 45 percent.

Tim O’Meara notes, “This is the first time we’ve had a fully integrated 3D machine in this size class. It gives operators something they can work with whether it’s for small excavation works or larger projects that are required to work on complex survey designs. The 13- to 15-tonne machine size is the most popular model sold in New Zealand and makes up to 40 percent of total excavator sales in the 13- to 50-tonne range.

“It’s a massive and vital part of the excavator industry. More contractors are adopting 3D technology because it’s a real advantage for them to be efficient over a range of different jobs. It’s also essential for us to provide them with a very cost-effective solution that’s supported fully by one supplier: Terra Cat,” he says.

An exciting advance with the 3D system is the ability to problem solve remotely. “We can support the operation remotely, send files to the machine, or update software. This additional connectivity enables us to support any on-site challenges that arise.”

What makes this latest release even more exciting is that Cat has designed the 313 with CatLink technology that gathers data generated by a company’s equipment, materials, and people and delivers it in an easy-to-analyse format. Included in the package is Product Link, which collects a range of data such as location, hours, fuel usage, maintenance alerts, and productivity, which can be viewed online through web and mobile applications. VisionLink allows users to access this information anywhere, anytime.

“The team likes VisionLink because it allows us to track the machine from the office. The 313 3D comes with Payload, a system that weighs every bucket to ensure you are not overloading the trucks. That was another reason why we went with Cat; to have it fitted and covered under the factory warranty was a no-brainer for us,” says Justin.

Additionally, there’s a suite of useful technologies available at the operator’s fingertips to increase job-site efficiency: Remote Troubleshoot to allow for diagnostic testing, Remote Flash to update on-board software without a technician present, and the Cat App to manage things such as fleet location, hours, and receive maintenance alerts.

“Every year, we roll out an annual product update of new software, safety performances, and application-based ease of use features. We send them to the machine; you can receive an update on your smartphone, accept it, load it, and the next day all those features are enabled in your machine,” says Tim.

The Cat C3.6 engine meets strict global emission standards, and according to Tim, this is one of the key developments and represents a massive investment by Cat over the past 14 years.

“Engine, hydraulic, and other oil capacities are greatly reduced by between 17 to 40 percent across the range of next gen machines. We’re also burning less fuel by between 15 and 25 percent. Most equipment engines used to operate at around 1800 to 2000 revolutions per minute (rpm); now we’re between 1400 and 1600rpm. The engine speed is right down with a greater level of hydraulic performance. We’ve also applied greater parts commonality on all maintenance parts, further reducing cost and waste.”

The Cat 313 is versatile and designed to work easily and efficiently on a wide variety of sites. “It can move around easily with limited transport restrictions, so fits the bill, particularly for smaller construction and residential development. This size class is also used a lot in roading and road maintenance, and the compact radius version 315 fits well in a single lane of traffic and can swing in a tight area. Whether it’s forestry roading, land clearing, or agricultural and farm work, it’s the perfect sized machine. It has lots of power for heavy work but is nimble and not too cumbersome to carry out the smaller, detailed operations,” says Tim.

The new 313 cab with enlarged windows is designed for maximum operator safety and comfort, from its tip-up left console allowing easy entry and exit to an adjustable seat, easy-to-reach controls, and a protective cab that eliminates the stresses, sounds and temperatures of the job. The 313 uses a keyless push-button engine start. Machine settings are controlled through a high resolution 25-centimetre touchscreen monitor.

“Operators take to it easily because it’s readily configurable depending on what they want to do. It’s like looking at a smartphone and it is uncomplicated. Whether working to walls or working to grade or fences, those services can be readily enabled. If you don’t want to use any of the features, it operates as a normal machine,” says Tim.

Over the years, Loaders Wanganui has forged a close bond with the team at Terra Cat in Palmerston North. “Our directors and management believe Caterpillar to be best value for money, given the exceptional back-up service we receive, the supply of parts, and the resale value. We remain loyal customers. We find the Terra Cat team exceptional to deal with,” says Justin.

“Our relationship with them is massive and is a big part of why we bought that machine. If we have a problem, they are onto fixing it straight away. They come to the party with a load of machinery. It’s a relationship that works for both parties. Terra Cat gives us the best service humanly possible and, in return, they receive our loyalty,” says Justin.