Caterpillar upgrades E-series backhoe loaders
By Chris Sleight02 March 2010
Caterpillar has updated its E-series range of side-shift backhoe loaders, first introduced in 2006, with an improved digging end.
The company has also unveiled a mechanical control version of the 434 E, primarily for markets in Africa, the Middle East and CIS.
The key improvement to the back end of the new E-series machines is to the extending section of the stick, which now telescopes inside the main assembly instead of outside.
According to product specialist Adrian Forrester, this provides greater stability and lifting capacity as well as improved routing for the hydraulic hoses.
The hose routing is the most visible aspect of this improvement, with all of the hydraulic lines contained within the boom and stick, which protects them from damage when digging.
Where the auxiliary lines for powered attachments emerge at the stick end, steel piping rather than hoses has been used, again fro greater durability.
Other improvements to the digging end include a new wear pad system on the extending stick which is easier to adjust and replace.
Other wear points at the back of the machines have also been updated, with new pad systems on the side-shift assembly and in the stabiliser legs, which again are quicker and cheaper to service.
There have also been some changes around the cab, with a new instrument console that now includes a low fuel warning, hour meter, object handling alert and better backlighting to make it easier for the operator to see the instruments when they are in direct sunlight.
Caterpillar has also introduced a new moulded composite roof, with integral gutters that channel rainwater away from the windscreen. The new roof also reflects more light, which helps to keep the cab cool in hot climates.
Caterpillar fits pilot controls as standard to its E-Series machine, but the new mechanical version has been developed for markets where the company has found this level of technology to be excessive.
According to Mr Forrester, there is growing demand for all-wheel steer machines (with equal sized tyres) in emerging markets in the Africa, Middle East and CIS regions, but at the same time customers in these areas prefer the simplicity of mechanical controls.
The new E-Series machines were unveiled at Caterpillar's factory in Desford, near Leicester, UK, which this year will become the 'mother plant' for the company's backhoe loader range.
All backhoe loaders to markets where emissions are regulated will be manufactured here, including the centre-post design which is preferred in North America.
According to Robert Droogleever, Caterpillar's global product manager for backhoe loaders, the decision to stop manufacturing backhoes in the US and shift all production to the UK, was driven by the company's desire to improve manufacturing efficiencies.
"We basically have too much capacity on both sides of the Atlantic, and we needed to consolidate that, "he said. "The decision was taken to move all backhoe production for regulated markets to Leicester.
"It's an expensive decision, but long-term we believe we need just one plant for these markets."
Mr Droogleever added, "We also have plants for backhoe loaders in India and Brazil, and we expect most of the growth in this segment to come from emerging markets."
Caterpillar produced its first backhoe loader in 1985, and will be using the forthcoming Bauma exhibition to celebrate this milestone. The company expects to hit another significant number this year with the production of its 250000th backhoe loader.