Caterpillar’s 20-ton and 36-ton excavators include an e-fence feature, which helps the machines work safely under structures or near traffic. - Photo courtesy of Caterpillar

Caterpillar’s 20-ton and 36-ton excavators include an e-fence feature, which helps the machines work safely under structures or near traffic.

Photo courtesy of Caterpillar

Caterpillar has listened to its customers who have asked for lower owning and operating costs for its excavators. 

Ryan Neal, who is product application specialist for Caterpillar, said the company’s three next-generation 20-ton excavators — the 320 GC, 320, and 323 — and the ­36-ton 336 and 336 GC deliver in that area. 

 - Illustration: Getty Images

Illustration: Getty Images

Key Features

  • A new Cat air filter with integrated pre-cleaner doubles the life of the air filter. That is a 100% increase over previous designs.
  • The excavators consume less fuel than the models they are replacing — up to 20-25% less fuel for the 320 and 323 and 15% less for the 336 and 336 GC.

“From the pumps to the valves to the full-cab design, everything is 100% a different machine,” he said.

In addition to lower ownership and operating costs, Neal mentioned several features that governments will appreciate, such as standard grade assist that automates boom, stick, and bucket movements. That helps operators stay on grade with single-lever digging.

As soon as the bucket reaches the operator’s desired elevation, the machine will not allow the bucket to go below that grade. The operator simply moves the stick or arm in with the joystick, and the machine maintains the bucket and the boom, not allowing the bucket to go below grade.

“It keeps them from overdigging and also automates the boom and the bucket for them,” Neal said.

He also said municipalities would like the machine’s e-fence feature. That feature helps the machine work safely under structures or near traffic. To do that, it prevents any part of the excavator from moving outside of points that the operator sets. 

“The operator physically cannot swing past that point,” Neal said. “It will stop itself.”

Government fleets will also like the 100% redesigned cab, Neal said. The cab features high operator visibility and more comfortable seating, and Caterpillar designed the cab after talking with operators to see what would make their jobs easier.

“It is their office,” Neal said. “If you make them comfortable and give them the features they need and want, it makes a more productive operator.” 

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