The construction equipment industry is seeing innovative new developments across all categories that are changing the way we work, and crawler dozers—once considered one of the more difficult machines to master—have now become considerably simpler to operate.
The key trends that are driving innovation in the crawler dozer category are centered primarily around operator experience—and this goes beyond comfortable cabs and easy-to-use controls.
When it comes to productivity on the jobsite, nothing beats a well-trained and experienced operator. Unfortunately, the industry is in a position where there are fewer and fewer seasoned operators in the workforce. These machines need a quick learning curve, and a big part of that is evolution and increased adoption of machine control. With this technology, contractors are able to see notable gains in productivity, reduced wear and tear on equipment, and significant reduction in labor.
Our dealer network has recognized this evolution by increasing the total number of dealers and locations that are “precision certified,” having completed training that ensures that they are qualified to support contractors in this technology.
CASE has taken a very deliberate approach towards how we’ve incorporated machine control into our dozer line, with a focus both on scalability and long-term value and accessibility for the equipment buyer/seller. An example of that is Universal Machine Control. CASE introduced Universal Machine Control in 2018 to give contractors more flexibility at the time of purchase to implement machine control systems, while also appealing to a broader spectrum of equipment owners as they eventually prepare to put the machine out on the secondary market.
Universal Machine Control allows contractors to buy the machine from the factory with a universal blade guidance system harness, universal machine brackets and mounts, and universal jumpers to integrate into any of the major machine control systems on the market. Any contractor now can take a CASE dozer with universal machine control and integrate it directly into any fleet-wide machine control deployment.
Another option that we offer is the CASE SiteControl CoPilot system, a simple 1D solution comprised of an inertial measurement unit (IMU), wiring harness and in-cab display. The affordable and easy-to-use system allows operators to set a desired slope/grade reference, and the system automatically holds that slope/grade without the need for lasers, masts or GPS. This allows both seasoned and less-experienced operators to easily achieve and maintain a smooth surface, slope or grade throughout a work area, and can help eliminate the need for additional passes and re-work while reducing fuel costs, labor costs and machine maintenance intervals.
Through our strategic partnership with Leica Geosystems, CASE also now offers an on-cab dozer GPS machine control system. This innovative system eliminates the need for masts affixed to the dozer blade, improving operator visibility to the work site, minimizing opportunity for damage and related downtime, and simplifying transportation of the machine.
Improved Fuel Economy
We’ve also focused heavily on improved fuel efficiency. Our M Series dozers were the first dozers in the industry to be powered by an SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) Tier 4 solution. This type of aftertreatment system lets the engine run at peak performance with no regeneration and no related downtime. By focusing on treating the exhaust after it has left the engine, we help ensure that all of the machine’s fuel is being put towards powering the machine, and not towards raising engine temperatures to burn off accumulated particulate, such as in a diesel particulate filter (DPF).
The M series also features a hydrostatic transmission that is able to deliver best-in-class drawbar pull while achieving up to 10 percent greater fuel economy over the previous generation of machines.
Advanced Operator Environment
Today’s dozer technology has significantly improved the overall operator experience, and makes it much easier for users to get up to speed on operation. In the CASE product lineup, this includes control customizations that allow the operator to better tailor machine performance to jobsite conditions, including the ability to set blade sensitivity, steering sensitivity and shuttle sensitivity to smooth, moderate or aggressive. This allows the operator to adjust machine responsiveness and controls to their preferences and ground conditions. An electro-hydraulic joystick further simplifies operation by providing better feel and responsiveness to the operator. We’ve also included a grading mode that reduces blade speed by 40 percent for increased accuracy and ultimately easier operation.
Some CASE M series dozers allow operators to adjust sensitivity of the blade movement to match operator preference and job site requirements. These adjustments to blade sensitivity are made through the Advanced Instrument Cluster.
There are also dedicated buttons for automatic Blade Shake to help with shedding material off the blade, and a Fine Grading command, which instantly cuts blade speed by 40 percent for increased accuracy.
At the end of the day, business owners and fleet managers need to look closely at total cost of ownership and the factors that impact it. Pay attention to things like fuel efficiency, dealer support and technology compatibility. Today’s business owners need to make sure that a machine is going to work with the telematics and machine control technologies that they currently have deployed throughout their existing fleet.
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