Companies operating in the utilities sector are looking to increase standards of machine performance, comfort, fuel economy and durability.
Growth of 9% in the utilities sector last year – according to AMA research – suggested competition was strong, leading to companies improving all aspects of their machines to ensure their products were keeping up with the game.
One such company is Caterpillar, which has designed new features for its PL72, PL83, and PL87 pipelayers.
They have an all-Cat power train with differential steering and an electronically-controlled hydraulic system, placing total control of lifting functions into one single joystick, said the company.
It has variable-speed winches for the boom and hook to provide control, and a counterweight system ensuring a low-centre of gravity for optimum performance. A new roll-over protection structure (ROPS) provides safety for both open and closed operator’s stations.
And, the new purpose-built pipelayer cab is pressurised, incorporating new operator-comfort and convenience features, it added.
The new pipelayers were designed to meet the demands of the pipeline industry for increased lift capacity, enhanced slope capability, ease of operation, performance, and transportability. Rated lift capacity at tipping point for the PL72 is 40,823kg, while the PL83 capacity is 77,111kg, and the PL87 capacity is 97,972kg, according to Cat.
The engine power rating for the PL72 is 192kW, and 270kW for the PL83 and PL87. All the engines meet EU Stage IV/Tier 4 Final emissions standards, it said.
The oil-disc brakes ensure a positive retention of boom and hook positions. Counterweight segments are contoured to provide optimum lifting performance and are extended hydraulically for efficient load balance and clearance.
A new electronic kick-out switch for the PL83 and PL87 means that counterweights are retracted to the correct position.
The lightweight, durable boom features high-tensile-strength steel construction and a narrow design that enhances visibility of the work area. Replaceable boom-mount bearings are said to be designed for long life and easy service.
The PL83 and PL87 now use two booms in common – 7.3m and 8.53m configurations. The PL72 also features two booms which are 6.1m and 7.3m.
The new Cat pipelayers offer added operator comfort features, such as a quieter cab, adjustable arm rests, and ventilated seat options.
A dash-mounted LCD display provides on-board diagnostic information for the operator, allows operators to create individual profiles and operational settings, and provides access to multiple switch-controlled functions.
The available enclosed cab is new and designed by Caterpillar specifically for pipeline applications, allowing truck transport with the ROPS in place.
The cab is fully sealed and supplied with filtered, pressurised air for a clean interior environment.
Expansive glass surfaces allow unhindered visibility around the machine and into the trench, and a large skylight with sliding shade provides a clear view of the boom and block.
Meanwhile, Doosan has added the DX225LC-5 and DX235LCR-5 crawler excavators to its Tier 4-compliant lineup, claiming improved performance, operator-focused comfort, fuel economy and jobsite durability.
Both the DX225LC-5 and DX235LCR-5 Tier 4-compliant machines replace the Tier 4 Interim DX225LC-3 and Tier 3 DX235LCR models, it said.
The DX140LCR-5 model offers a shorter tail swing, allowing operators greater flexibility in tight spaces, without sacrificing performance, said Doosan.
Both the DX140LC-5 and DX140LCR-5 excavators are designed for long life with an extra-sturdy frame and reinforced superstructure, it added.
They come standard with permanently sealed and lubricated track links, and the bushings and hard-wear disks are designed for reliability as well as extended service intervals to increase uptime.
A new selectable feature, smart power control (SPC), is available on both models and consists of two systems – variable speed control and pump torque control – that work together to improve machine efficiency while maintaining productivity and reducing fuel consumption.
They also come with 178mm liquid-crystal display (LCD) screen that allows operators to continue monitoring the excavator parameters while viewing the rearview or optional side-view camera image.
In addition, the crawler excavators have Improved anti-skid plates, an emergency engine stop, and improved serviceability.
The Doosan excavators comply with Tier 4 emission standards with modified diesel engines and aftertreatment technologies.
The engines are optimised for use with a high-pressure common-rail (HPCR) fuel delivery system and a cooled exhaust gas recirculation (CEGR) system, it said.
It uses a diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC) to reduce particulate matter (PM) and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) aftertreatment to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx).
Additionally, a variety of aftertreatment systems are available as part of the Tier 4 compliance, such as diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), which is used with SCR technology.
Mini excavator firm Hanix has the H17D excavator, which features a combination of a fuel-efficient Kubota engine and variable displacement piston pump, meaning performance is constantly optimised to match the workload, the company said.
All its functions come with no cables or linkages, ensuring an easier set up, it claimed.
The H17D claims to be an extremely compact and well-balanced machine with a shortened turning radius for digging on space restricted sites.
It features two-speed travel and an extendable track frame and dozer blade – giving maximum stability when digging, yet providing enhanced access and manoeuvrability on urban work sites, and enabling rapid transfer by trailer between locations, said Hanix.
Thumb-operated controls integrated into the joysticks regulate boom swing and auxiliary hydraulic functions. Boom mounted two-way proportional control auxiliary hydraulic lines are fitted, making it quick and easy to change between attachments such as breakers and augers.
The long dipper arm provides the H17D with a maximum digging depth of 2.495m and dumping height of 2.435m.
It has steel body panels and a wrap-around counterweight to withstand everyday site knocks, and the boom cylinder located above the boom provides added protection against accidental damage, Hanix said.
Kubota describes its U27-4 excavator as a compact and tough zero-tailswing mini, which it claims features the largest and most luxurious cab in its class.
In the 2 to 3 tonne weight category, the U27-4 is said to ensure operators have strong visibility for greater productivity and increased safety. In addition, a wider and lower entrance aims to make the cabin simple to enter and exit.
The U27-4 delivers a powerful and well-balanced digging force, along with a wider working range that rivals higher-end excavators. This allows operators to dig faster, deeper and more efficiently, said Kubota.
It also claims to provide excellent stability without the need of additional weights that are often required by other zero-tail swing excavators.
Neil Winfield, Kubota Construction’s business development manager, said, “The U27-4 was introduced following extensive research and development with operators across the UK and worldwide.
“This, combined with Kubota’s manufacturing expertise, has resulted in an excavator being designed to meet and exceed the needs of the market.
“The feedback we received in the 2.5 tonne class highlighted that users wanted more space in the cabin and increased comfort levels, while not compromising on performance levels.”
He said the Kubota U27-4 machine was manufactured to exceed these requirements.
Winfield said, “It features a newly-designed spacious cabin and a deluxe interior, including a relaxing suspension seat that reclines to accommodate an operator’s posture and offers weight compensation.
“This helps to reduce strain, minimise fatigue and increase operator productivity, particularly over extended periods of use.”
He continued, “In addition, Kubota’s intelligent digital panel with diagnosis function is located towards the front side of the operator for better visibility and accessibility.”
The U27-4’s tail provides minimal protrusion outside the track width, enabling the machine to turn throughout its 360o radius safely and with precision control, according to Kubota.
It is also powered by what Kubota described as its own “world leading engine”, which exceeds the current emission levels required by European legislation.
To complement this, when the simultaneous operation of the boom, arm, bucket and swivel are required, two variable pumps distribute an accurate amount of oil to each actuator according to the lever stroke. This process enables continuous high performance digging and dozing.
The U27-4 also delivers exceptional fuel economy and a driving experience that is “second to none”. Anti-theft technology increases fleet security, while the engine and its components are easy to access for any maintenance and service programmes.
First in Norway
Dobloug has purchased the first piece of Hitachi light compaction equipment in Norway from the country’s authorised dealer, Nasta.
The Hamar-based contractor has added the ZV350PR-De reversible vibratory plate to its fleet of Hitachi machinery for its construction projects.
The Hitachi ZV-PR compactor range offers the highest centrifugal force in its class. It has been designed to produce a dynamic impact force thanks to a compact body and high-tensile, protective engine frame.
The durable base plate helps to absorb shock, resulting in a longer life for the machine, it said.
All models are fitted with a standard recoil starter to enable efficient and safe starting of the engine.
The electric ZV350PR-De model is also equipped with the recoil starter as a backup so work can continue even if there isn’t time to charge the battery.
Joar Grini, part-owner of Dobloug, said, “I first saw the new range of light compaction equipment on a visit to Hitachi Construction Machinery (Europe) in Amsterdam.
“We use this type of compactor on a regular basis and I wanted Dobloug to be the first company to be supplied with one of these machines in the Norwegian market.”
He went on, “Our previous supplier’s machines aren’t as modern as the ZV350PR-De, and so we have also been able to update our fleet with the latest technology. I believe that Hitachi’s compaction equipment has the same high level of quality as its excavators.”
Dobloug already owns several Hitachi Zaxis-5 medium excavators and a ZW wheeled loader, and the ZV350PR-De was delivered in March 2015.
This means that with the addition of the reversible vibratory plate to its fleet of construction equipment, its aftersales requirements are being managed by one of its existing suppliers.
“We have an excellent working relationship with Nasta. Our Hitachi dealer is the best supplier in the Norwegian construction industry. In such a competitive market, the after-sales support they offer is the biggest advantage that they have over the competition,” added Grini.
Swedish contractor Steffes Schakt has also expanded its fleet of Hitachi construction machinery for increased versatility across a wide range of challenging projects in the Stockholm area.
The company now has 15 Hitachi crawler excavators working on construction and civil engineering projects in and around the city.
These include the ZX350LC-5 SLF (super long front) and the ZX180LC-5, which were supplied by the Swedish Hitachi dealer, Delvator.
Magnus Hansson, Delvator’s technical product specialist engineer, said, “The Hitachi SLF machines have been designed specifically for the European market.
“They have been reinforced, are stronger than other conventional SLF machines, and are ideal for digging and levelling jobs.”
Meanwhile, Ditch Witch has released the MR90 mud recycler which offers “the fastest set-up time” – the only mud recycler that can be transported full of fluid, according to the company.
It is a self-contained unit that can mix and recycle drilling fluid, as well as handle spoils. By reclaiming, recycling and reusing drilling mud, drill operators can save on disposal and transport costs.
The MR90 is 18.7kW and is equipped with a hydraulic pit pump that can be controlled by an optional remote control – a Ditch Witch feature – which can simplify operation for smaller directional drill crews.
Automatic pit pump control helps prevent overflow.