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Machinery: Cat’s wheeled powerhouses

As wheeled excavators gain traction in the region, Caterpillar’s newly updated M315D2 and M317D2 assume greater importance by offering powerful and highly mobile digging options in a versatile package

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If you want to know where a country or region stands in terms of the maturity of its construction market, take a look at the equipment that sells in it. While markets that are still in the process of building things up from scratch have more need for the heavier stuff such as tracked excavators, those that have reached a certain stage of maturity see the market opening up for equipment such as wheeled excavators, suitable for operation in built-up environments. This is pretty much the case in the Middle East, as far as Caterpillar’s M315D2 and M317D2 wheeled excavators are concerned.

The Cat M315 and M317 wheeled excavators have earned a solid reputation worldwide for reliable performance, long-term durability, versatility, fuel efficiency, low operating costs and easy maintenance. Keeping this reputation and the machines’ consequent popularity in mind, Cat took the product forward with its new D2 Series models (M315D2 and M317D2), building on the existing reputation with a more robust fuel-injection system, versatile front-linkage configurations, expanded work-tool capability and new operator comfort features.

The move aims to provide a better and improved machine for wheeled excavator users while still retaining the familiar feel, features and quality of the tried-and-tested M315 and M317.

Speaking to CMME about the region’s wheeled excavator market, Carole Berger, Cat Wheeled and Small Excavator Product specialist, says: “Tracked excavators may be the most used excavators in the Middle East/GCC region due to the nature of the application and ground conditions there, but wheeled excavators are making good inroads as well. Tracked excavators are used in heavy applications with severe underfoot conditions.”

“However, the region is now a more mature market where a lot of buildings and roads have been built. Some projects have moved to a more maintenance and renovation phase. That’s the reason why wheeled excavators are gaining in popularity. Wheeled excavators are the perfect equipment to work in urban environments without damaging the asphalt. Velocity and mobility are the key benefits of these wheeled excavators, as the machines can travel independently between job-sites at high speeds of up to 37km/h, reducing travel time and transportation costs as well as moving material on-site.”

More and more contractors are adding wheeled excavators to their fleet in the region, Berger says, and Cat is quite often their preferred choice. Caterpillar’s strategy to have a full range of wheeled excavators specifically designed for the Middle East/GCC is proving popular with customers, and the M315D2 and M317D2 tie in nicely with that strategy, she adds.

“Caterpillar is among the most popular brands in the GCC region when it comes to demand for wheeled excavators for jobs such as road and airport maintenance, sewer and water applications, and material transportation on job-sites. This is apart from its application in core construction activities such as in roads and buildings,” says Berger.

Some of the features that make the M315D2 and M317D2 perfectly suited to the region’s market are their powerful and refined engines, their flexibility and versatility, Caterpillar’s traditional robust build quality, easy serviceability and operator comfort, Caterpillar claims.

The new Cat C4.4 ACERT engine meets US EPA Tier 3/EU Stage IIIA emission standards, while delivering the same power and fuel economy as predecessor engines in both working and travelling modes. The C4.4 ACERT also contributes to reliability with a fuel system designed to manage worldwide fuel quality. A primary fuel filter/water separator features a water-in-fuel switch that indicates when draining is required, thus reducing the risk of fuel-system contamination. An additional secondary fuel filter has been added to further enhance filtration capability.

Cat wheeled excavators are versatile by nature and capable of working on prepared surfaces or off-road, says the company, and the M315D2 and M317D2 can travel independently between job-sites at high speeds of up to 37km/h, reducing travel time and transportation costs. The new models also serve as utility machines for moving material on-site.

Two stick options are available for each model, and a one-piece boom provides easy operation in all applications, whether loading trucks, working close to the machine against the blade, or in situations requiring maximum digging depth and reach. The variable adjustable (VA) boom is designed to improve right-side visibility and roading balance, as well as facilitate working in tight quarters or lifting heavy loads. For dozing capability, the new models are available with a radial blade, and available outriggers enhance stability.

Cat attachments are designed to function as an integral part of the excavator and are performance-matched to Cat machines. The new wheeled excavators are available with a wide range of attachments, including quick couplers, specialised buckets, hammers, multi-grapples, compactors and shears.

“The M315D2 and M317D2 offer the best solution whenever there is a need for a powerful and mobile machine, able to work on all ground conditions, whether dirt or roads,” says Berger. “The dedicated swing pump maximises swing performance without reducing flow and power to the other hydraulic functions, resulting in smoother combined movements and lower fuel consumption. Our design allows our customers to be more productive and more cost-efficient with our 17t wheeled excavators.”

Operator comfort
The operator station is spacious and comfortable, offering several seat options, including heated cushions and automatic weight adjustment. Automatic air conditioning is standard, while the design also incorporates low sound levels and an ergonomic control layout for ease of operation. Large glass areas provide optimum visibility, and lighting packages provide an extra margin of safety. Accessibility to the cabin is convenient, with well-positioned handrails that allow three points of contact at all times. Anti-skid plates on all walking surfaces and steps reduce slipping hazards. All daily maintenance can be performed from ground level, enhancing safety, and service points are centralised for convenience and to reduce downtime.

“The M315D2 and M317D2 wheeled excavators have been designed to work in the challenging climate conditions of the Middle East. High temperatures, sand and wind have all been considered during the development of our products,” says Berger, pointing to the extra filters that the machines come with, especially the extra level of fuel filtration and the ability to provide optimal performance even with low-grade fuel.

In terms of telematics, the M315D2 and M317D2 are equipped with the Cat Product Link system, deeply integrated into machine systems and providing timely, useful information that assists in effectively managing equipment and associated costs. Remote monitoring via the web-based VisionLink app allows access to data such as location, security alerts, fuel burn, idling time versus working time and diagnostic/event codes. Knowing where equipment is, what work it is doing, how it is performing and its general state of health allows machine owners to improve the overall effectiveness of their operations and lower operating costs.

And then there is the service back-up and support that Cat and its dealers ensure for all customers, which is based on the global leaders’ exacting standards no matter where the equipment is in the world.

“Our dealers in the Middle East and GCC – Mohamed Abdulrahman Al-Bahar and Zahid Tractor – have been established in the region for a long time and have a strong presence. They offer excellent after-sales support with very well trained technical experts and high parts availability. These are key elements to maintaining customers’ high productivity and minimising downtime,” says Berger.

Seconding her is Samer Ismail, product manager for Earthmoving and Excavation at Al-Bahar, who concludes: “The new D2 Series is performing very well and is able to prove itself as a continuation of the old series’ success in the toughest applications.”

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