Using joysticks, earning an extra life

Added comfort and versatility the current push in excavator industry

Excavators Article December 28, 2000
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You never know when one of the Mario brothers will show up at the office, looking for work. Actually, it’s happening more and more these days, members of the so-called Nintendo generation putting themselves behind a significant piece of construction equipment. The excavator industry is recognizing the gradual takeover in the work force. Cabs which used to carry different levers and no entertainment now have joysticks, a radio, air conditioning . . . practically all the comforts of home.

“As far as operators go it got to a point of a Nintendo breed,” Art Hine, hydraulic excavator product manager for Komatsu, told ROADS & BRIDGES. “They want to sit there and have creature comforts. They want the seat to adjust, they want everything comfortable.

“If you can keep an operator comfortable for longer, the efficiency is maintained at a higher level. Therefore, his production is better and the machine gets taken care of. The end result is the owner of the machine gets a better investment.”

Getting more for the dollar is certainly a sign of a smart buy, and today excavators are being built with versatility in mind. Various attachments can allow the diggers to perform a number of different jobs, including small demolition work. Some are even designed as both an excavator and dozer.

“In excavators, the efficiency of performing a wide variety of tasks is growing phenomenally,” John Frame, product marketing manager for New Holland excavators, told ROADS & BRIDGES. “With a wheel loader or dozer there’s much more wear and tear in the undercarriage, and more motions are required and more energy has to be used. An excavator can basically sit in place and swing 360 degrees on its turn table, it’s just more efficient technology.”

“What we’re seeing is a much higher demand for attachments to go along with the excavators,” Joel Borgardt, marketing manager at Case, told ROADS & BRIDGES. “Contractors are demanding more time in their machines.”

The future, however, could hold less work for the operator. Frame sees the use of automatic laser or some other technology assistance for pre-set dig depths on the horizon.

“One thing we can see more of is more widespread use of electronic controls,” he said.

Moving right along

Caterpillar’s new 345B excavator is on its way. According to the Peoria, Ill.-based company, the machine was designed to be easily transportable between job sites.

Powered by a Caterpillar 3176C air-to-air, after-cooled, turbo-charged diesel engine, the excavator competes in the 33- to 50-metric ton size class and comes with a hydraulic system which is set at a constant high 4,980 psi and generates high full-time digging forces and lift capacity.

The company’s Electronic Power Control manages engine speed and pump output, and is armed with a stick digging force of 40,100 lb and a bucket digging force of 52,200 lb.

The maximum dump height is 24 ft and the maximum reach at ground level is 40 ft, 9 in.

Caterpillar also has replaced its 320 and 322 hydraulic excavator models with the 320B L and the 322B L.

The 320B L carries a Caterpillar turbo-charged 3066 diesel engine which delivers 128 hp, while the 322B L receives its kick from a Caterpillar turbo-charged, after-cooled 3116 diesel engine which operates at 153 hp.

Both models come with increased digging and lifting capacity. The 320B L is equipped with new damping valves in the swing circuit, which reduce reverse swing action at swing stop.

Intelligence factor

The big news coming out of Link-Belt’s headquarters in Lexington, Ky., is the addition of the 8000 Quantum, which weighs in at 176,400 lb.

The headliner for this model is Intelligent Quantum control, a computer-aided, hydraulic control system designed to ensure maximum efficiency at any job site, according to the company. The IQ control features four working modes: heavy, standard, light and fine.

The machine is driven by a Cummins 6-cylinder, turbo-charged 445-hp engine, and has a standard excavator boom length of 27 ft., 6 in.

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

Solar power

Daewoo, Suwanee, Ga., has started a new family of crawler excavators, which includes the Solar-V series—450-III, S400LC, 330LC-V, 290LC-V, 220LC-V and the S130LC-V.

The manufacturer has “redesigned” the machines with a full-time engine-hydraulic interface system, a new swing motor, a push-button power boost and a leveling mode.

The hydraulic system continuously controls engine output, hydraulic pressure and oil volume for the work being performed.

Daewoo said the new swing motor comes with increased torque to deliver faster work cycles, and the push-button power boost increases performance in tough digging situations.

The leveling mode with low arm speed adds precision to grading work.

The Solar 450-III has 53,792 lb of bucket breakout force, a digging reach of 40 ft, 1 in. and a digging depth of 26 ft.

Operating with a Daewoo 8-cylinder, turbo diesel engine (295.8 hp at 2,000 rpm), the model offers three power modes and four working modes under the company’s EPOS III (Electronic Power Optimizing System). EPOS III helps ensure operating economy by automatically matching engine and hydraulic output to the job at hand.

The S400LC-V operates out of the 44-ton class and is powered by a Daewoo-built turbo diesel engine which produces 274 hp at 2,000 rpm.

The machine has a maximum digging reach of 40 ft, 3 in., maximum digging depth of 27 ft, 5 in. and a maximum digging height of 37 ft, 8 in.

The Solar 330LC-V is an excavator from the 33-ton class. The machine offers a maximum digging reach of 36 ft, 11 in., a maximum digging depth of 25 ft, 2 in., a maximum digging height of 34 ft, 3 in. and a minimum swing radius of 14 ft, 10 in.

The 290LC-V, listed under the 28-ton class, has a maximum digging reach of 35 ft, 6 in., maximum digging height of 33 ft, 10 in. and a maximum digging depth of 24 ft, 6 in. The digger’s minimum swing radius is listed at 13 ft, 11 in.

In the 20-ton operating weight class, the 220LC-V can extend its digging reach out to 32 ft, 8 in., its digging depth to 21 ft, 10 in. and its digging height to 31 ft, 8 in. The minimum swing radius is 12 ft, 1 in.

At 13 tons is the 130LC-V. This machine has a maximum digging depth of 18 ft, 6 in., a maximum digging height of 28 ft, 3 in. and a minimum swing radius of 8 ft, 4 in.

Working in the ’90s

In an attempt to reach a variety of customers, Case , Racine, Wis., offers 11 models in its 90B series.

The machine line ranges from 15,212 to 99,950 lb, and features one-touch power boost, arm anti-draft valves and an automatic-style operator’s environment.

Two of the major players in the group are the 9050B and 9060B. The 9050B operates at 240 hp and offers a digging depth of 24 ft, 3 in., while the 9060B pumps out 300 hp and has a maximum digging depth of 27 ft, 7 in.

The powers that be

John Deere, Davenport, Iowa, has installed a power line in the market which now includes a pair of new excavators—the 330 LC and the 370.

Both models are driven by a 235-hp John Deere Powertech 8.1-liter engine and feature the Powerize engine/ hydraulic management system which keeps a constant balance between pressure and flow. The system actually “feels” when the arm meets with heavy resistance and automatically increases engine rpm by 6%for increased production, according to the company.

The 72,880-lb 330 LC competes in the 28- to 33-metric ton class, replacing the 892E LC. Deere believes the machine provides increased operating weight, horsepower, lift capacity, arm force, bucket breakout force, drawbar and counterweighting compared to its predecessor.

The 370, an 81,200-lb digger in the 33- to 40-metric ton class, is versatile and provides 111more operating weight, longer track length, 161more drawbar pull and more lift capacity than the 300 LC.

The two models come with four work modes: dig mode, grading mode, precision mode and attachment mode.

Long arms

Added reach and dump height and increased digging depth are what Melroe Ingersoll-Rand, Fargo, N.D., has accomplished with its four new Bobcat excavators—the 328, 334, 341 and 331E.

Based on the existing Bobcat 325 and 331 excavators, the dippers on the 328 and 334 are a foot longer, and the Bobcat 341 features a dipper which is 15.8 in. longer than the one on the 337 standard-arm model. All three are classified as long-arm models.

The 331E offers the benefit of an extendible dipper, which allows an operator to extend and retract the dipper up to 32.5 in. in jobs where added reach is necessary.

The 334 excavator features an arm length of 59 in., a maximum dump height of 10 ft, 9 in. and a maximum digging depth of 11 ft, 1 in. The 328 comes with an arm length of 53.15 in., a maximum dump height of 10 ft and a maximum digging depth of 9 ft, 2 in. The 341 has an arm length of 75 in., a maximum dump height of 13 ft, 3 in. and maximum digging depth of 13 ft, 4 in. The extendible arm of the 331E increases ground level reach to 18 ft, 5 in. and sets the maximum dump height at 11 ft, 3 in.

Wheeling and dealing

The invention of the excavator wheel has Komatsu, Vernon Hills, Ill., excited about its 123-hp PW170ES-6.

The new wheeled excavator offers an increase in productivity, versatility and mobility, according to the company.

The 38,140-lb machine has a 1.12 cu yd bucket with a maximum digging height of 30 ft, 10 in. and a maximum digging depth of 16 ft.

The unit also features a four-wheel hydrostatic drive with a constant mesh transmission, which provides three forward and three reverse speeds.

The excavator is armed with Komatsu’s HydrauMind system, where load-sensing and pressure-compensated valves automatically handle all adjustments for individual jobs based on the pressure and lever stroke detected. HydrauMind also provides increased cylinder responsiveness for easier fine control and lifting operations, and automatically adjusts to changing ground conditions, eliminating the need for the operator to change lever strokes.

Other features include two-stage auto deceleration, five different working mode selections and a HydrauMind Closed Load Sensing System.

Easing congestion

Designed to work under congested conditions in residential and urban areas, the Robex 55-3 mini-excavator from Hyundai, Elk Grove, Ill., presents the user with mobility and portability.

The combination of a cab which swings 360 degrees paired with an independent boom offset allows for materials to be easily placed away from the trench area without repositioning the excavator.

The machine also comes standard with auxiliary hydraulic piping on the arm, allowing for easy installation of a wide variety of attachments.

Powered by a 59-hp Yanmar engine, the excavator carries a bucket capacity of 0.08 to 0.24 cu yds and reaches a maximum digging reach of 19 ft. 10 in., maximum digging depth of 12 ft, 8 in., maximum digging height of 17 ft, 11 in. and a maximum dumping height of 12 ft, 8 in.

Pump No. 3

Throwing dirt around for New Holland, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, are the EC tracked and EW wheeled model excavators, which feature a three-pump hydraulic system.

The swing pump on the diggers operates a closed-loop circuit which prevents excess oil from being delivered to the pump, thus reducing power consumption and heat generation in the hydraulic oil.

The swing circuit also incorporates an adjustable braking system, which can be set to vary how the excavator starts and stops its swing cycle. A soft setting can be set when using a grapple for material handling or other special attachments, while a more aggressive setting can be used for fast load cycles.

A computerized Pump Control System, which links the engine and hydraulic pump, is the brain behind the system. Among the features the system offers is Power Limit Regulation, which measures and manages engine speed and the load demand on the hydraulic pumps to maximize the system’s efficiency and performance.

The machines offer five working modes: heavy, economy, lift, breaker and custom, and are powered by Cummins diesel engines.
The EC series covers the 13- to 63-ton class, while the EW series spans the 16- to 22-ton range.

Double blade

The ED180 Blade Runner from Kobelco, Stafford, Texas, is claimed to be “the first of its kind.” That’s not to be confused with “one of a kind,” since the machine can serve as two—an excavator and a bulldozer.

Supplying the power is a turbo-charged Cummins 4BTA3.9 diesel engine which delivers 103 SAE net hp.

As a dozer, the Blade Runner comes with a six-way Power Angle Tilt blade designed for dozing, finish grading, landscaping, backfilling, cutting ‘V’ ditches and land clearing. The blade is 11 ft, 4 in. wide and has a maximum blade lift of 33 ft, 5 in. above ground and a maximum drop of 23 ft, 6 in. below ground.

On the excavating side, the overall arm length is 28 ft, 2 in., the maximum digging reach is 30 ft, 7 in., the maximum digging depth is 21 ft, 4 in. and the maximum digging height is 29 ft, 8 in. The bucket capacity is 0.5-1.25 cu yds, while the bucket digging force is 22,000 lb.

Air force

Airman, distributed by Mitsui Machinery, Bridgeport, N.J., offers the same combination on a smaller scale.

The AX45-2 compact excavator is equipped with a new Hydraulic Circuit System and Hydraulic Pilot System, a variable capacity pump, a mechanical swing brake and gate lock lever system, a two-speed travel motor and a self-lubricated bushing system used for the front and blade pins.

The digger has a maximum digging depth of 11 ft, 9 in. (rubber track) and 11 ft, 10 in. (steel track), a maximum digging height of 19 ft, 6 in. (rubber) and 19 ft, 5 in. (steel) and a maximum dumping height of 14 ft (rubber) and 13 ft, 11 in. (steel).

A 28-in.-wide bucket has a capacity of 6.0 cu ft, and the maximum bucking digging force is 8,243 lb. The dozer blade is 6 ft, 3 in. long.
Airman also offers the AX15-2, AX25-2 and the AX35-2.

Advanced advantage

Volvo, Rolling Meadows, Ill., distributors of Samsung excavators, has tied everything into an Advanced Control System (ACS). The ACS balances engine power with hydraulic pump output over a wide range of working conditions, providing maximum productivity without wasting energy and fuel, according to the company. Selection of the engine rpm according to the job application automatically sets the engine power and work mode, and the ACS self-diagnostic mode analyzes information from system functions and identifies the source of failure to facilitate troubleshooting.

A one-touch power boost button can be activated to increase the power of the boom, arm and bucket for nine seconds, and the machines also come with a hydraulic variable regeneration system, which Volvo claims “improves operating smoothness and speed, eliminates wear caused by cavitation and lowers pump output.”

The SE240LC-3 model has a maximum digging reach of 33 ft, 8 in., maximum digging depth of 22 ft, 11 in., maximum digging height of 31 ft, 11 in. and a maximum dumping height of 22 ft, 4 in.
The SE210LC-3 comes with a maximum digging reach of 32 ft, 7 in., maximum digging depth of 22 ft, 1 in., maximum digging height of 31 ft and a maximum dumping height of 21 ft, 10 in.
Dash-ing through the dirt

As far as excavators go, Hitachi made a dash for it. The Dash-5 computerized engine horsepower and pump oil flow control system is featured in the 750-V, EX550-V and the EX450-V. The system provides better multi-function operations and smoother, faster cycling, according to the Houston-based company. The Dash-5 comes with three power modes (normal, S/P, E) and four work modes (general purpose, trench digging, precision/heavy lift, grading).

The 750-V has a built-in Cummins 6-cylinder, turbo-charged, direct injection diesel engine rated at 434 hp. It’s backhoe bucket capacity is listed at 2.62-5.36 yd3, while its loading shovel bucket capacity is 4.71-5.75 yd3. The machine’s maximum digging reach for both bottom dump and tilt dump is 32 ft, 10 in. and the maximum digging depth is 16 ft, 7 in. The maximum dumping height is 25 ft, 11 in. (bottom dump) and 16 ft, 3 in. (tilt dump).

The EX550-V also carries a Cummins turbo-charged, direct injection diesel engine that’s rated at 361 hp. The digger’s bucket capacity is 1.76-4.43 yd3. The maximum digging reach is 37 ft, 9 in., the maximum digging depth is 22 ft, 8 in. and the maximum dumping height is 23 ft, 7 in.

The EX450-V is powered by an Isuzu 6-cylinder, turbo-charged, direct injection diesel engine rated at 301 hp. Holding a 1.78-2.98 yd3 bucket capacity, the model has a maximum digging reach of 28 ft, 9 in. (bottom dump) and 28 ft, 7 in. (tilt dump), maximum dumping height of 24 ft, 2 in. (bottom dump) and 14 ft, 1 in. (tilt dump) and a maximum digging depth of 14 ft (bottom dump) and 13 ft, 10 in. (tilt dump).

The Liebherr look

Waving the slogan, “The Better Machine,” Liebherr , Houston, offers three excavators ideal for highway construction—the R 984 B, R 974 B and R 964 B.

With a 25-ft, 7-in. Gooseneck Boom and a 14-ft, 9-in. stick, the R 984 B has a maximum digging depth of 26 ft, 5 in., a maximum reach at ground level of 44 ft, 1 in. and a maximum dump height of 30 ft.
The R 974 B has a maximum digging depth of 30 ft, 7 in., maximum reach at ground level of 45 ft, 10 in. and a maximum dump height of 30 ft, 10 in. with a 23-ft, 8-in. gooseneck boom and a 15-ft, 5-in. stick.

The R 964 B offers a maximum digging depth of 27 ft, 7 in., maximum reach at ground level of 42 ft, 8 in. and a maximum dump height of 27 ft, 11 in. with a 23-ft gooseneck boom and a 13-ft, 9-in. stick.

A horse by the road

Mustang Manufacturing Co. Inc., Owatonna, Minn., has created an entire stable of new compact and mini-excavators for the 1999 season.

Twelve models in all, the Mustang excavator capacities range from 1.4 to 8 metric tons and 14 to 62 hp. The machines can reach digging depths from 6 ft, 10 in. to 14 ft, 5 in.

Each come with a dozer blade. Other features are: two-speed drive system and standard rubber tracks and hydraulic couplers.

Same, but different

The Gehl Co., West Bend, Wis., offers a fleet of compact and mini-excavators which shares some of the same features as Mustang’s.
The 12 diggers are rated from 1.4 to 8 metric ton capacity, are powered by engines in the 14- to 62-hp range and have standard digging depths from 6 ft, 10 in. to 14 ft, 5 in.

Gehl models, however, feature Gehl Force Hydraulics, which is an advanced high-output hydraulic system that allows simultaneous multiple hydraulic functions without the loss of power or speed, according to the company.
Dozer blades, a two-speed drive system and standard rubber tracks and auxiliary hydraulic couplers are also available.

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