CONSTRUCTION: Motor Grading At A New HIgh
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CATERPILLAR has taken motor grading to a new level of performance with the roll-out of its class-leading M-series, which complements the current generation H-series models. The first model launched locally by sole southern African distributor, Barloworld Equipment, was the 16M unit towards the end of 2007, followed closely by the 140M grader in 2008. The 16M is a larger machine aimed at the mining sector, whilst the 140M meets the requirements for road construction and maintenance, plus general site preparation.
One of the most noteworthy features of the new M-series models is their ease of operation: the conventional steering wheel and control levers have been removed and replaced by a joystick operated electro hydraulic system which dramatically simplifies motor grader control and reduces operator arm and hand movements by as much as 78%. The two three-axis joysticks are positioned to the left and right of the operator on the seat armrests, with a ripper control lever mounted within easy reach on the cab wall.
In terms of operational benefits, Cat’s joystick technology creates a direct relationship between the lean angle of the joystick and the turning angle of the steer tyres; whilst a brake tensioning system holds the joystick in position until the operator moves it. The steering control also automatically reduces steering sensitivity at higher ground speeds for comfortable and predictive operation.
“Traditionally, the motor grader has been regarded as one of the most difficult earthmoving machines to learn how to operate, with up to 15 steering levers demanding the attention of the operator,” says Johan Hartman, product manager, Barloworld Equipment.
“However, thanks to the introduction of joystick controls, the typical timeframe for operator training can be reduced from weeks to just days, depending of course on individual aptitude,” Hartman says. “In the development of the M-series, Caterpillar surveyed more than 500 customers worldwide and asked them for suggestions on ways to improve on the already high standard set by the H-Series. The majority listed ease of operation as a key priority and the Caterpillar 140M delivers perfectly in this area.”
As an added service to industry, Barloworld Equipment has recently installed a grader simulator at its Training Academy in Isando, Johannesburg, which enables existing and new operators to get up to speed on the M-Series in order to perform at optimum efficiency on site from day one.
As with all Caterpillar machines, ergonomics and safety are top of mind, as are ease of servicing and machine availability to provide the lowest operating costs.
“Cat’s 140M motor grader offers a ‘best in class’ operator station and unmatched visibility to the work area thanks to its angled cab design, tapered engine enclosure and a patented sloped rear window,” Hartman continues.
Safety is enhanced by the 140M’s ‘Operator Presence’ criteria, which means that the driver has to be seated before the machine will operate. Meanwhile, flat black anti-glare material on the front frame, lift cylinders and rear enclosure reduces glare, resulting in safer operation.
For added safety, a rear view camera can also be fitted (the latter now being a legal requirement in the mining industry).
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