Construction machinery manufacturer, Caterpillar, is simplifying its excavation product line by slashing the number of its platforms, cabin types, and air filters by more than half.
The US-headquartered company made the announcement during the recent unveiling of its next generation 20-ton size class hydraulic excavators at its Malaga Demonstration and Learning Centre (MDLC) in Spain.
Herwig Peschl, global marketing manager of Caterpillar, said that simplification is among the strategies the company is adopting in response to feedback from customers.
“This is not just applicable to the 20-ton size class but to all our product line,” he said. “With our current excavation series, we have 28 different platforms. We are reducing this to 12.
“What is a platform? A platform is a chassis; it is the hydraulics, the drivetrain, and the powertrain.”
Explaining how the change will benefit customers, he said: “The fewer platforms you have, the fewer parts you will have in the overall product line, [and] the more commonality you will have if you own different size class products.”
Peschl also revealed that the company is reducing the number of cabin types from 16 to three.
He said: “I talked recently to our customers, and [they said]: Why does my operator […] have to re-adapt to a different cab when he goes into a different size excavator?”
This feedback takes on more significance in light of reports from customers that they are having difficulty finding good operators, Peschl added.
“There will be three cabs across the whole excavation product line, whether it’s a small excavator to a large excavator. Now this is a big change and [will] really help drive benefits for our customers, make it easier for the operators to switch models, switch size classes, and still have the same controls,” he explained.
Caterpillar will also be reducing the number of air filters in its excavator range from 15 to four. These four will reportedly serve the whole product line and cut inventory costs.
On 9 October, Caterpillar launched three new excavator models: the 320, the 323 and the 320 GC. The three new products are equipped with purpose-built features designed to boost operating efficiency by 45%, reduce fuel consumption by 25%, and lower maintenance costs by 15%, according to the company.
All three also boast cabins that are installed with standard features like a keyless push-to-start button, a 203mm touchscreen monitor with jog dial keys for control, and sound-suppressed rollover protective structures (ROPS).
Programmable joystick buttons for response and pattern allow the operator to dial in productivity settings, while new viscous mounts reduce cab vibration by up to 50% over previous models to reduce operator fatigue.
Other features of the cabs include low-profile design and large front, rear, and side windows for enhanced visibility.
Customers also have the option of going for 360° visibility, a feature that combines images from several machine-mounted cameras to enhance the operator’s sight-lines in all directions.
The new models are expected to become available in the Middle East in Q2 2018.
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