A shade lighter

After a red-hot spell, the excavator market has cooled some

Article December 28, 2000
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Remember: excavators could tear up Wall Street.


Everybody is aware of the physical capability of the machine, but there also was a time when the excavator market crumbled all financial forecasts. Sales were on the rise, which had to bode well with stockholders of the major manufacturers.


"It so overheated over the last couple of years that now I think we’re going through a market correction," Pat Riley, vice president of marketing for Hitachi, told ROADS & BRIDGES. "I think things have slowed down."


Riley, however, isn’t dressing the industry in black. Despite the cooling, business is still on the upside.


"It’s still a very strong market," he said. "The excavator is a prime product in a contractor’s fleet. It’s one of the most important tools. It has a long growth pattern ahead of it."


The industry is on a form of the Internet. Riley calls it "e-information," which allows the owner to monitor machine performance, status and repair timing without ever leaving his office chair.


"It gives you an opportunity to really see how the performance of the machine is at a certain job location," he said. "Then it builds up a history of maintenance and service issues."


Electronic technology is now allowing users to trim down the function of the excavator. There’s an opportunity to become more job specific.


"The machine isn’t built to one common denominator; it’s built for an opportunity for the user to customize to his one particular application with the electronic technology that is available," added Riley.


This month, ROADS & BRIDGES gives readers access to several excavators.


Digging large


There have been some big changes at John Deere, Moline, Ill. The two newest additions in the excavator line—the 550 LC and 750—are the largest machines the manufacturer has to offer.


The engine/hydraulic management system in the diggers, called Powerize, is powered by two, variable displacement axial piston pumps and keeps a constant balance between pressure and flow.


Operators can choose from three power modes (standard, economy and S/P) that regulate RPM and also can select from four work modes that prioritize hydraulic flow.


The 550 LC is powered by a 6-cylinder, direct injection turbo-charged engine providing 361 net hp. The 750 is equipped with a 6-cylinder, direct injection turbo-charged and after-cooled engine supplying 434 net hp.


The 550 LC has an operating weight of 127,394 lb, a 47-ft, 5-in. maximum reach and 32 ft, 2 in. of maximum digging depth. Lift capacity over the front is 41,600 lb. The 750 has an operating weight of 167,602 lb, a 51-ft, 6-in. maximum reach and 34 ft, 8 in. of maximum digging depth. The machine also offers 55,460 lb of lift capacity.


A 24-ft, 11-in. boom comes with the 550 LC. The 750 is available with a 27-ft, 1-in. boom.


The first you know of


Caterpillar, Peoria, Ill., is starting another family. The 320C L is the first of the C Series 300 line produced by the manufacturer.


A 138-hp Cat 3066T engine provides an increase in full-time horsepower of 8% over the 320B’s engine, and features a long-stroke piston movement for high torque at medium to low speeds.


The 320C L also has a 20% faster swing speed and an increased swing torque of 9% compared with the 320B. Drawbar pull has improved 11% to 44,040 lb.


An open-centered, high-pressure 4,980 psi hydraulic system has been built for the 320C L. According to the company, the system increases hydraulic performance through flow rates and efficiencies.


The excavator provides a maximum dump height of 21 ft, 4 in., a maximum reach of 32 ft, 3 in., a stick digging force of 21,800 lb and bucket digging force of 29,100 lb.


Up by 10


Trying to hold a lead in the construction equipment market is never an easy task. Case Corp., Racine, Wis., believes the new 90B Series gives it an edge.


With 10 models ranging from 28,000 to 99,950 lb operating weight, the line offers a machine to fit almost every application, according to the company.


A selection of four work modes—heavy, standard, light and fine—enables the operator to match hydraulic pump output to the job at hand, and for heavy digging or lifting, the Series features a one-touch power boost. The feature gives a 9% increase in hydraulic power for 10 seconds.


Insert intelligence


Every class should have a brain. At Link-Belt, Lexington, Ky., the main feature on the Quantum series is the Intelligent Quantum (IQ) control.


IQ is a computer-aided, hydraulic control system with four selectable working modes: heavy, standard, light and fine. The working mode system, combined with power boost, balances engine speed and pump output for increased productivity, efficiency and fuel savings, according to the manufacturer.


A push-button cushioned attachment control can be selected for the boom and arm hydraulic circuits, which incorporate a cushion valve to reduce vibratory shock.


Quantum excavators also feature free swing control, allowing the operator to disengage the swing brake, which provides control and added safety when swinging a load.


The excavator can be set in an attachment work mode, which matches the engine RPM’s to the hydraulic requirements. By doing this, the operator matches the oil flow to the needs of specific allied attachments.


Additional perks include three-speed travel, single-pedal travel, automatic downshift, auto idling and a one-touch decelerator.


Range of motion


Moving day for Volvo, Asheville, N.C., took place earlier in the year. The company took a step up with the introduction of a new range of excavators that include the EC140, EC210, EC240, EC290, EC360 and the EC460.


As far as the hydraulics are concerned, the operator now controls all functions using joysticks mounted on individual consoles that can be adjusted in relation to the operator’s seat and arm rests.


A unique feature is the Advanced Control System, where the operator selects a mode and lets the system automatically set the most efficient positions.


There are five modes to choose from and nine different engine speed settings.


A power boost increases the breakout force of the boom arm and bucket circuits for up to nine seconds.


Making a Dash


Hitachi, Houston, knows you have to put more than a pinch of technology into machines these days.


A dash is needed. Or, in Hitachi’s case, a Dash-5.


Labeled as the manufacturer’s Dash-5 machines are the EX270, EX330, EX370, EX450-5, EX550-5, EX750, EX1100, EX1800, EX2500 and the EX3500. Almost every machine comes with Hitachi’s Dash-5 computerized engine horsepower and pump oil flow control system.


Improvements to the EX550-5 include strengthening of the mainframe and boom, decreased noise levels—75 dB(A) in cab, 78dB(A) at 23 ft away—and travel speeds up to 2.9 mph.


The E-P Control system results in smooth and fast multi-function operations while tracking and processing signals from sensors located throughout the system, according to Hitachi. The E-P Control automatically adjusts engine horsepower and pump oil flow to achieve the highest productivity with maximum efficiency.


The EX750 weighs in at 169,535 lb, and the operating pressure has been boosted to 4,480 psi.


The machine also carries the E-P Control system and a work switch mode.


The EX750 has 5% more boom and digging forces, 7% more arm digging force and 9% more swing torque than its predecessor, the EX700.


Fully enhanced


Something better has come along for Daewoo, Suwanee, Ga. The company claims the Solar 250LC-V 25-ton crawler-type excavator has enhanced its line-up, which now ranges from 6 to 50 tons.


Benefits for the S250-LC-V include low fuel consumption, low noise level, joystick control and a firewall between the pump and engine for added safety.


The operating weight of the S250LC-V is 53,800 lb. The bucket capacity is 1.24 yd3, and the machine’s breakout force is 33,510 lb.


Speed away


New Holland, Carol Stream, Ill., is speeding up the process behind the EC350 and EC240 crawler excavators. Both models have "highest-in-class horsepower for fast cycle times and high productivity."


A dedicated swing pump allows for four simultaneous movements without compromising the attachment or swing speed, and a heavier-gauge steel plate and full-height carbody-to-track frame connection provides greater structural contact area to withstand stresses of extreme applications. An additional feature is a three-pump hydraulic system.


The EC350 is a 249-hp model with a maximum dig depth of 24 ft, 3 in., while the EC240 is a 176-hp machine with a maximum dig depth of 22 ft, 6 in.


Flair for the dynamic


Staying active is what it’s all about. Introducing something new can catch somebody’s eye, turn a head. Kobelco America, Stafford, Texas, opened 2000 with the announcement of its "revolutionary line" of Dynamic Acera hydraulic excavators.


The models—SK210LC, SK250LC, SK290LC and SK330LC—offer high breakout forces and lifting capacities, an on-board monitoring system, a simplified work mode system and the NeuralNet Command System.


Kobelco’s Power Boost and Heavy Lift switch can provide 10% more power for an unlimited amount of time, according to the company.


The on-board monitoring system allows the operator to watch hydraulic pressures, pump flow, oil change intervals and engine rpm. A total of 68 different service items can be gathered and displayed.


The machines can operate out of a manual mode, assist mode and breaker mode. The assist mode uses "fuzzy logic" in Kobelco’s NeuralNet Command System to recognize certain tasks and adjust the hydraulic system.


The NeuralNet Command System analyzes hand movement and translates it into a series of coordinated control messages.


Cage diggin’


Make room for Bobcat’s line of excavators? That won’t be necessary. The Fargo, S.D.-based manufacturer has four compact machines—the 322, 325, 328 and 331E—designed to handle tight working conditions.


The Bobcat 322 features an expandable undercarriage that retracts to allow access to small excavation sites and expands to improve lifting and digging capacities from inside the machine. The digger is 39 in. wide when retracted, and can expand out


to 53 in.


The 322 offers a 12-ft, 5-in. maximum reach from ground level and a maximum depth of 7 ft, 2 in.


Under 8-ft tall, the 325 exerts just 4.2 psi of ground pressure, making it ideal for muddy conditions. The cab rotates 360û, the maximum digging depth is 8 ft, 3 in. and the reach at ground level is 13 ft, 10 in.


A long-armed version of the 325, the Bobcat 328’s digger gives operators a maximum ground reach of 14 ft, 10 in. and a maximum dump height of 10 ft. The maximum digging depth is 9 ft, 2 in.


The 331E has an extendible dipper, increasing its ground level reach by 2 ft, 6 in. and maximum dumping height by more than a foot.


The dirt dozen


Gehl, West Bend, Wis., has formed a line of 12 excavator models ranging from 1.4 to 8 metric ton capacity.


The machines come with engines offering 14 to 62 hp, with standard digging depths from 6 ft, 10 in. to 14 ft, 5 in.


Dozer blades, a two-speed drive system and rubber tracks are standard equipment. An advanced high-output hydraulic system delivers "smooth, precise" operation while allowing simultaneous multiple functions without the loss of power or speed.


Using its tail


The tight tail swing of the PC128UU-2 excavator from Komatsu, Vernon Hills, Ill., allows it to be positioned close to the work area. The offset boom enables it to dig and swing 360û and load within the track width of the machine.


Equipped with a 7-ft arm and 14-ft boom, the digger provides a maximum digging reach of 23 ft, 11 in. and a loading height of 27 ft.


A depth/height control system enables the operator to choose from depth set zero and depth mode settings. The depth set zero selection, which is made with the bucket starting at ground level, measures how far below zero the bucket goes as the excavator digs. The depth mode sets a limit on how far down the bucket digs.

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