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Gas-fired hammer technology sets the standard


Each quarry application requires its own specific tools to get the job done. When sourcing tools which keep their operations running smoothly, quarries should consider the context of their operations, to save time, money and energy.

The Caterpillar GC hammer range is fit to satisfy numerous applications, from urban to remote, hard rock to soft. But the most recent additions to the range – the H160GC and the H180GC – hammers are certainly names to remember for those in the regional and remote quarry game.

Caterpillar’s regional work tools sales manager for the Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Islands region, Jason Zhang, said these hammers were brought to Australia in late-2020 and the market response has been remarkable.

“Before the GC hammer was released in Australia, it did two years in other countries. Surprisingly, this hammer’s breaking force and performance are not that far from our high-end performance series, which was actually a great surprise to our engineers too,” Zhang said.

On top of breaking force, which Zhang added is what all customers ask for upon inquiring, the two new Cat hammers have a range of important features, ensuring Caterpillar will remain a market leader in the space for now.

The gas-fired hammers include an automatic shut-off system (ASO) – a feature exclusive to these two products – which aids in the longevity of the machine, while bringing about an added safety feature.

“Once the system determines the tool has dropped to the limiter position and the piston has travelled further, this will trigger another passage to allow the high pressure oils back to the machine tank,” Zhang said of the ASO system.

In line with the focus on durability, Zhang said the Cat hammers are far and away the most resilient of their kind today. This is in part thanks to the engineering of Cat automotive parts into Cat’s earthmoving gear. While other brands may not have the parts or know-how required to fit such tight seals, or strong pistons, Cat can incorporate the technology into its hammers.

“The big questions which customers ask are ‘How soon will the high-pressured nitrogen be leaking out?’ and ‘How soon do you have to recharge that?’ And the answer with most gas-fired hammers on the market is every 50 working hours, if you’re working every day,” Zhang said.

“With Caterpillar hammers, when our engineers designed the hammer, we asked them for a benchmark because we are the leaders in the market. So, our hammers can last for six to eight months.”

That suggests the GC hammers are at least 25 times more durable than the market benchmark, when assessing the piston seals required for hammering.

Also adding to the durability of Cat hammers is the versatility of the hammer stroke. With the flick of a switch, operators can let their machine know what kind of work they are performing.

“The GC Hammers have two firing modes: one is the long stroke, and another is short stroke. This gives customers a choice depending on whether they work with soft or hard rock,” Zhang said.

When powerful hammers work with softer rocks, a lot of energy is wasted. This can lead to premature tool damage and decreased fuel efficiency.

“As the large hammer breaks the material, it is not necessary to travel inside the rock,” Zhang explained. “It is the stress and breaking power we’ve transferred to that rock that’s important.”

Zhang warned customers should also be aware that only the GC-S series hammers are silenced, while the GC hammers are non-silenced and more appropriate for remote quarry operations where noise suppression is non-essential.

As for maintenance and aftermarket services, Cat products offer an extended protection plan (EPP) on top of the 12-month warranty.

“All Cat hammers are protected for three years with EPP,” Zhang said. “So, on top of Cat’s standard 12-month warranty, EPP gives you an additional two years’ factory-backed protection plan.

“H110 to H180 hammers come with EPP for free because we want to bring more confidence to customers.

“Caterpillar dealers will send mechanics to the customers regularly, especially for EPP plans, according to an interval schedule without any prompting.”

Zhang said it was important to let customers know the three factors for a successful hammer business. These are good hammers, a good dealership, service and maintenance, and a good operator. He added Cat can deliver two out of these three factors, while the third point is mostly down to the business.

However, to allow operators to be at their very best on the job and to get the most out of their machines as possible, Cat offers an easy to read pocket manual on the most efficient, effective ways of operating Caterpillar machinery. It’s the little things like this which complement the bigger things Cat offers. Together, they enable Australian quarries to run at maximum efficiency for the maximum amount of time.

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