The event, organised by Caterpillar Global Construction and Infrastructure, was held on 14 August in Melbourne. It featured a panel of experts including the Caterpillar Asia Pacific general manager of sales and marketing Phillip Pollock, Caterpillar global construction and infrastructure manager for Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Ranil Tennakoon and Caterpillar excavator product application specialist Kit Kyaarsgard.
In addition to hearing from the experts on the history of hybrid technology in Australia, the current state of the hybrid industry and what lies ahead in its future, attendees were given an up close and personal look at Caterpillar’s Cat 336E hybrid excavator (336E H).
Lower ownership costs
Hybrid technology would appear to be a positive step towards a more environmentally friendly and sustainable heavy construction sector but it has been argued that the ownership costs outweigh the benefits, presenting a barrier to greater uptake within the industry. However, Pollock told Quarry that Caterpillar had been able to overcome this challenge.
He stated that while other hybrid solutions incorporated a large number of electronic components, which could be complex and costly to repair, the 336E H was able to conserve fuel, optimise performance and reuse energy.
According to Pollock, this last point was what really set Caterpillar’s hybrid solution apart from competitors. “The Cat 336E H hybrid excavator uses regenerative braking to store kinetic energy hydraulically,” he explained.
He said the company decided to develop hybrid machinery within the 30 to 50 tonne range first to allow customers in the quarry industry to maximise their savings and return on investment.
“The great part about Caterpillar’s hybrid solution is that it’s designed using the building blocks of the basic excavator, so we can use a portion of these blocks or the complete package – whichever delivers the best return to the customer,” Pollock explained.
He added that the Australian market has been “very receptive” to the 336E H since its introduction in 2013.
“They [Australian customers] like the simple design and that it is built off of the proven 336E base machine,” Pollock said, “but more importantly, they like its benefits, such as the tangible fuel consumption savings and its ability to lower their owning and operating costs.”