History oftentimes repeats itself. At least that was the case with this year’s Roads & Bridges Contractor’s Choice Awards as Caterpillar Inc. dominated the playing field for a second consecutive year. Coming off eight gold honors in last year’s competition, Caterpillar remained the frontrunner in 2007 by taking home seven gold awards.
Since the competition’s inauguration last year, contractors around the country have been voting on their preferred equipment for the jobsite based on products nominated by manufacturers.
Of the 28 product categories in this year’s competition, Peoria, Ill.,-based Caterpillar received 13 different recognitions in 11 categories.
The AP-1055D asphalt paver; H90C hydraulic hammer; D6R Series III dozer; 325D LC hydraulic excavator; 420E loader backhoe; 140H motor grader; and the 930G wheel loader all received gold recognitions this year.
The winning vote
So how has Caterpillar been able to dominate this awards competition?
“I just heard a statistic that Caterpillar spends about $5 million a day on research and development of all equipment on an overall basis,” Jim Joy, senior marketing engineer at Caterpillar, told Roads & Bridges. “It’s that sort of development that keeps us on the leading edge of new products and understanding what the market needs.”
With recent improvements to many of its equipment, Cat has shown they can give customers what they want and need in a machine—and they have the awards to prove it.
For example, the gold-winning 420E loader backhoe, which replaced last year’s 420D IT winning backhoe, has undergone many changes and improvements in the past year. “Over 90% of the components on the machine have been re-engineered and improved, whether slightly or significantly,” said Joy.
The 420E backhoe features a more spacious operator’s cab for better comfort and visibility; a modified transmission that increases travel speeds by 25%; the AccuGrade BHL site reference system; and factory-installed thumbs that are compatible with all bucket and coupler combinations.
The AccuGrade grade-control system has been a huge technological advancement for the loader backhoes, according to Joy. The AccuGrade Site Reference System, which is available on the E Series backhoe loaders, enables the operator to excavate predetermined coordinates and set target grades relative to points on the worksite. The in-cab display provides bucket position and grade settings to ensure the operator excavates to those parameters. The optional AccuGrade Laser Reference System works with laser transmitters to accurately grade or excavate to a site plan without the use of grade stakes.
The 420E has 89 net hp and a backhoe digging depth of 14 ft 4 in. when equipped with a standard stick. An extendible stick pushes the digging depth to 17 ft 11 in.
The 420E has found its place among the construction industry, most commonly used for commercial, residential and highway construction. The machine also has proven useful for plumbing and utility applications, Joy said.
While improvements made to the 420E backhoe helped the machine to earn its second gold honor in as many years, this was not the only piece of Caterpillar equipment to repeat victory. The Cat AP1055D asphalt paver also took home the gold for a second straight year.
The AP1055D has had an overwhelming industry response in recent years, according to Terry Sharp, manager of solutions and services, Caterpillar Global Paving. “It is the No. 1 paver in North America just from the standpoint that contractors are choosing it over all other pavers,” Sharp said. “The results are: They’re winning smoothness awards with the paver, which tells me that the paver’s easy to operate and they’re getting the results they need out of it.”
The AP1055D features new dual operating stations that provide operators excellent visibility to either side of the operating platform on the paver. A gateless feeder system provides variable speeds to deliver material and reduces segregation, and the AP1055D has a material delivery system that requires very little operator monitoring.
Sharp, much like Joy, accredits the pavers’ industry success to the work that goes into a Caterpillar product long before it reaches the market. “Whenever Caterpillar brings a new machine to market, it’s always tested for 1,000s of hours under our direct control prior to us ever bringing the machine to market,” Sharp said. “We’re going to always prove new components and new designs out at our expense before we ever bring a machine to market.”