Caterpillar has introduced its Next Generation Cat 349 excavator which replaces its older 349D2 model and promises to offer up to 45% more operating efficiency, up to 25% more fuel efficiency and up to 15% less maintenance costs over the previous model.
According to a statement from Cat, the new 349 has the industry’s highest level of standard factory-installed technology to enable the improved operating efficiency, including Cat Grade with 2D. The system gives operators visual guidance to grade via the standard touchscreen monitor so they can make more accurate cuts and is readily upgradable to Cat Grade with Advanced 2D or Cat Grade with 3D for enhanced accuracy.
Technology features also include Grade Assist, which automates boom and bucket movements to help operators of all skill levels improve their results; Cat Payload for increasing operators’ loading efficiency with on-the-go weighing and real-time payload estimates calculated without swinging to help prevent overloading and underloading trucks; and Lift Assist to quickly calculate the weight of the actual load being lifted and compare the result to the rated capability of the excavator. Visual and auditory alerts indicate whether the machine is within a safe working range.
Other technology features are E-Fence, which prevents the excavator from moving outside operator-defined points, helping protect the machine, underground utilities and other objects from damage; and Cat Product Link, which provides a constant stream of wireless information available via the online VisionLink interface, allowing machine managers in the office to quickly evaluate critical operating information.
“Fuel efficiency is work per unit of fuel, and the 349 does more work per unit than the 349D2.” Said Cat’s statement. The new Smart Mode system automatically matches engine and hydraulic power to digging conditions, reducing fuel consumption and optimising performance. Engine speed automatically lowers when hydraulic demand decreases, further reducing fuel usage.
The cooling system features a new on-demand fan that’s designed to operate only when required, saving fuel and ensuring maximum efficiency. An available reverse function assists with cleaning debris from the cooling cores.
The new electrohydraulic control system offers better responsiveness and efficiency and its main control valve eliminates the need for pilot lines, reduces pressure losses and lowers fuel consumption. Fewer hydraulic lines result in less required oil and lower long-term operating costs.
The new 349’s has extended and synchronised maintenance intervals which lower long-term costs. Components such as Cat’s new air filter with an integrated pre-cleaner and primary and secondary filters provides double the dust-holding capacity of the previous design.
The new Cat hydraulic return filter has a 3,000-hour service life — a 50% increase over previous filters.
Fuel system filters are synchronized for service at 1,000 hours — a 100 percent increase over the previous filters, while the fuel system’s water and sediment drains and hydraulic system’s oil level check are positioned close together at ground level, making routine daily maintenance faster, easier, and safer.
Cat offers a choice of Comfort or Deluxe cab packages to improve the operator experience and features such as keyless pushbutton start, large touchscreen monitor with jog dial keys for control, and a sound-suppressed rollover protective structure (ROPS) come standard.