Feature - Straight to the point

28 April 2016

For any industry, a new entrant to the market is a time of excitement, and demolition is no exception. When that company is of the size and scale of Caterpillar, and it is returning to a market that has been off its radar for the past few years, it’s inevitable that the interest ramps up even further.

That is the situation at the moment, with one Cat demolition product making its first steps into the industry, and a prototype of the second about to receive its grand unveiling at the Bauma exhibition in Munich from April 11 to 17.

The equipment already out there is the 336F Straight Boom, which was launched in the final quarter of 2015. It is an intriguing development because while straight boom excavators are in themselves not new to the market, most excavators feature a curved boom concept.

However, as Caterpillar’s applications specialist Cedric Masson is keen to stress, the 336F – which has been designed for both low-level demolition and above ground level tasks – “is not just a case of mounting a straight boom on a standard machine. It is a dedicated machine.”

The new product is the 340F UHD.

The UHD in its name signifies “ultra high demolition” and preliminary specifications show that the front parts can reach up to 22 m (72 ft) of vertical pin height. They are also capable of carrying 3.6 tons up to 15 m (49 ft).

Worldwide product development manager Jean-Christophe Etienne said the initial marketing focus for the excavators is on Europe and Japan, which is reflected in their manufacture.

Emission standards

The 336F straight boom – a more typically European product – has been made in Gosselies in Belgium and meets European Union Stage IV emission standards. The 340F UHD was put together in Akashi, Japan, a country where Caterpillar has what Jean-Christophe described as “a long history of working with demolition contractors.”

Talking about the 336F, Cedric added: “The straight boom is not unique to Cat. But one of the good things for Cat is that we can produce it as an in-house design, we can control the manufacturing, we can offer concrete solutions through the distribution network. That way we speed up the process and develop a cycle – while we are getting the feedback we can continue improving the product.

“We’ve been thinking about launching this product for quite a while and we wanted to make sure we did it properly. We believe this is an important segment for our customers, and we want to serve this segment.”

“The demand for demolition products across Europe is pretty much scattered, but we expect the majority to come from areas of high economic activity – with Germany, the United Kingdom and the Nordic countries leading the way followed to a lesser extent by France and Italy. Though we can make the product available anywhere a customer needs it.

“Key customers have already received their machines and the feedback has been very positive. These machines have been designed for demolition.”

While the Bauma exhibition will mark the first appearance of the new 340F prototype, Caterpillar expects to be fulfilling orders within a short space of time – probably within a month and certainly by the middle of the year. It is here that the company feels the relationship between design, manufacture and distribution comes into its own, allowing quicker processing of customer feedback and faster improvements to the product.

Operator comfort has not been overlooked on either model.

The 336F’s SmartBoom is described as reducing stress and vibration transmitted to the machine and cab, especially during hammer work, while the cab itself comes with a P5A reinforced windscreen and top glass, including a top glass wiper and washer. The 340F also features the reinforced windscreen and top glass, with parallel wipers. Cat has enlarged the top window to increase visibility, while the cab can also be tilted back to offer a better operator position in high reach applications. Both machines feature front and top falling object guards.

A further feature of the 340F is an active stability monitoring system that provides information of work tool positions within the safe working range and tells the operator when the limit of stability is about to be reached.

Like the 336F, it has also been designed with Cat’s range of work tools in mind, and includes a tool control system that remembers pressure and flows for up to 10 tools to allow for quick changes between applications. And owners can also use Cat’s Product Link and Vision Link systems to access details of location, hours, fuel consumption and idle time.

The new products are backed up by the MP324 multi-processor with concrete cutter jaw. At 2,133 mm long, 1,485 mm high and 793 mm wide, it has a crushing force of 1,005 kN at tooth tip and a cutter tip crushing force of 1,520 kN.

The crushing force of the primary cutter is 3,202 kN. As with the smaller MP318, the multi-processor allows the customer to have a range of options from a single housing.

This article is taken from the March-April 2016 issue of Demolition & Recycling International magazine. To view the article in full, including additional images and specification information for both models, please visit www.khl.com/subscriptions

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