Plant & Equipment

Is the M-series the ‘wheel’ deal?

Now, local interest is starting to build for Caterpillar’s M-series line of wheel loaders. With deployments in civil engineering and agricultural applications, distributor Hastings Deering is seeing curiosity about the medium-sized wheel loaders pick up.

The series is faster and more efficient than the K-series it is replacing, meaning projects get completed faster, Hastings Deering’s Matt Scott said.

Scott, who is sales manager for quarrying, industrial and waste streams, has product responsibility for Cat’s wheel loaders in the country’s north, and recently conducted five site demos in three weeks for the 982M, demonstrating the rise in enthusiasm for the machine.

“With the 982M, thanks to the bucket payload, on average, a lot of people cut a pass out per cycle when they’re truck loading, which is good,” Scott said. “The load and carry speeds are a lot quicker across the ground; the machine itself is a lot faster and more nimble to do the task.”

All vehicles in the series have improved torque flow during gear shifts, through a lock-up clutch torque converter and a single-clutch speed shift system. Acceleration is fast, while gradients are ascended more easily.

While carrying, idle management adjusts engine speed and torque to match the load and keep RPMs low, delivering fuel savings.

The range of what can be carried and the ease with which this can happen is maximised by the American company’s Fusion coupler system.

{{quote-A:R-W:300-I:2-Q:"Pre-programmable engine management, idle shutdown and delayed engine shutdown are features that increase operational visibility,"-WHO:Matt Scott, Building Construction Industries Manager of Hastings Deering}}This keeps the coupler and bucket as close as possible to the loader, assisting lifting performance.

M-series vehicles are powered by Cat ACERT engines that meet Tier 3 emission standards. The M-series are up to 22 per cent more powerful than their H-series predecessors. In addition to the power increase, the new models are more fuel-efficient, with the 950M/962M delivering a 10 per cent reduction and the 966M/972M delivering a 15 per cent decrease.

An automated engine idle management system matches engine speed to the load, reducing fuel consumption, and the loaders can be set to shut down after a pre-determined interval. This not only saves fuel, but also reduces machine hours, extending service intervals.

“Pre-programmable engine management, idle shutdown and delayed engine shutdown are features that increase operational visibility,” Scott said, adding they could be monitored via PC or smart device using Cat’s VisionLink platform, with the data available to be interpreted and used to improve performance.

“Customers are monitoring and measuring their [operational] time as a KPI on their site. Through VisionLink they can get reportable information and they can use that through toolbox talks or whatever to train and instruct their operators to reduce idle time.

“Obviously with idle time fuel use, there’s an unnecessary cost to a lot of people’s businesses. The technology on the machine helps [reduce that].”

ProductLink, the fleet management tool underlying this, comes standard with the series. It allows fleet owners to track metrics such as work versus idle time and fuel status, and offer maintenance suggestions.

Tracking payload information is also becoming more precise and sophisticated, according to Trevor Byrn, Hastings Deering’s product systems team leader. While this has tended to be basic, such as information on cycles and tonnes of material moved per day, it is becoming more granular.

It is heading towards hourly reports on “how much is moving and where it’s going”.

The use of GPS mapping to plot machine cycles can also identify efficiencies and waste issues around how a site is arranged and laid out.

Tracking geospatial information of assets and payloads, plus machine health and performance, has grown in popularity, with companies trying to stay up to date and eke out efficiencies in a connected, data-driven world.

It is a long way from the way things were in 1932, when the Hastings Deering Engineering Company was formed.

Technology on mines, quarries and waste sites will not stand still, and products such as the M-series have evolved to meet the needs of managers and owners wanting things faster, better and cheaper, and able to report back to base in real time.

“They’re seeing a lot of benefits, whether it’s checking on operators, checking on machine abuse, checking fuel usage, different things like that,” Byrn said. “Trying to avoid losses, too much idle time or if you have operators abusing the machines, it’s going to end up costing them more money. We’re finding more and more customers, especially the bigger customers, are starting to rely on this.”

Source: Hastings Deering

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