Cat, Expands Compact Equipment Line.
Tom Frautschy, Caterpillar manager for NACD Light Construction, stressed that "we think compact equipment is opening up a whole new world for us."
Four families of the Cat compact line were introduced including compact wheel loaders, mini hydraulic excavators, skid steer loaders and associated work tools. Skid steer loaders will be introduced early in 1999 and will be manufactured at a new plant in Sanford, NC.
Increased urban expansion and changing work requirements in the construction sector are placing new demands on industry professional who seek small, versatile, performance machines. Frautschy said this new line of equipment represents a logical extension of the company's product line to meet this market demand.
"Cat first entered the light construction market back in 1973 with the D3, 931 and 910. We learned a lot from those experiences and that benefitted our effort to start the compact construction equipment lineup," Frautschy pointed out.
"There were several reasons Cat decided to get into this market," he continued.
* Our customers have purchase and support requirements for these products.
* In all our markets, contractors buy these products.
* Contractors use this equipment in a complimentary fashion to their existing equipment, and there is substantial potential for substitution of compact equipment for other equipment.
* These products also represent a natural extension of what we already do.
* Our dealers saw changes going on in the marketplace. Fifteen to 20 of our dealers have already entered that market.
* And the compact equipment industry has grown at 11 percent per year for the past 10 years.
"The bottom line is that it made perfect sense for Cat to enter the compact market," Frautschy said. "We're really excited at the number of new markets and customers available. We believe that 70 percent of contractors that buy or rent light equipment are not on our dealer call list."
Cat Manager of Compact Machines, Building Construction Products Division, Bob Briggs, explained that the compact construction equipment lineup "represents a $100 million investment by Cat to become a player in this business.
"In developing these products, we worked closely with people in the industry to produce the best equipment available. Our customers told us that they wanted performance and versatility, ease of operation, serviceability and customer support. And that's exactly what they're going to get," Briggs stressed.
Cat also introduced several associated "work tools" designed specifically for their new compact equipment. Commonly called "attachments" by others, Cat views that term as inappropriate. "Work tools perform a specific task. We see attachments as more of an add-on feature," Frautschy explained.
Cat's work tools for compact wheel loaders and mini-excavators will offer a full line of special tools to guarantee the versatility of the equipment. But, unlike most manufacturers, rather than partnering with a tool manufacturer, Cat has chosen to developed the work tools itself.
"Over 90 percent of our work tools are designed and built by Cat," said Briggs. "Because of that fact, our work tools are built to be the most productive for our machines."
The Caterpillar 301.5 is the first mini hydraulic excavator model to be introduced, weighing in at only 3,687 pounds. In the near future, it will be joined by three additional mini models (302.5, 303.5 and 304.5) with weights ranging from 6,017 to 9,970 pounds.
Work tools for the mini excavator line include the A7 auger, digging buckets from nine to 23.6 inches wide, and two ditch cleaning buckets. All are attached with the Caterpillar mechanical quick coupler.
The 301.5 is powered by a Cat 3003 naturally aspirated diesel engine with flywheel power of 17.4 hp. The 302.5 uses the Cat 3013 diesel engine at 23 hp. A triple pump hydraulic system offers maximum reliability by providing a good balance between power and speed to give optimum controllability and performance. The two-speed power train provides speeds up to 2.7 mph for travel between work areas. Straight line travel is provided to help maintain a straight course while tracking and operating the front linkage simultaneously.
The large opening, tilt-up hood on the mini hydraulic excavator gives access to all major components and service points including the engine, battery, air filter and radiator.
The unit is available with a cab or protective canopy. Both structures meet tip over protective structure requirements and Level 1 falling object protective structure specifications. Visibility of the work tool and work area from the cab is excellent, with large windows and offset swing post as well as a large glass window for rear visibility.
Compact wheel loaders
The 902 and 906 are the first two models in the compact wheel loader family to be introduced to North America and feature 0.8 to 1.2 cubic yard bucket capacity. The 908 model will be introduced at a later date.
The 902 compact wheel loader's operating weight is 9,600 pounds while the 906 weights 11,060 pounds. The loaders can be equipped with a range of high quality general purpose buckets in widths of 70 to 74 inches. In addition, there are multi-purpose, light material, high dump and stone sieve buckets, all specifically designed for each machine. The range of buckets also includes a right side dump bucket for the 906 model.
All three models are powered by Cat four-cylinder diesel engines with direct injection. The 902 is powered by a 45 hp Cat 3024 engine and the 906 is powered by a 60 hp Cat 3034 engine.