This article was featured in Earthmoving Equipment Magazine.
Adding to the line-up of recent model releases along its mini excavator range is the arrival of the Cat® 306 CR Next Generation Mini Excavator bringing industry-first features and technology into the popular 5-6 tonne range.
Continuing to redefine the customer experience for mini excavators, Caterpillar is pleased to announce a new model addition to the Next Generation of Cat® Mini Hydraulic Excavators – the 306 CR. As part of the Next Generation portfolio it has been built to deliver an unparalleled operator experience, industry leading performance, and simplified service, all with affordability in mind.
The 306 CR complements the Caterpillar range of 8-10 tonne hydraulic excavators and promises to be another game-changer for the industry.
The 306 CR offers a substantial increase in performance over the current model 305.5E2 CR and depending on a contractor’s perspective can be seen as a high-performing excavator at the upper end of the 5-6 tonnes segment or a model that would easily hold its own at the smaller end of the equally popular 8-tonne segment.
306 CR NEXT GENERATION
The 306CR weighs in at 6500kg when equipped with standard Australian spec of long stick and rubber tracks, but can increase to 7150kg with optional added counterweight and steel tracks with rubber pads. It is also powered with the Tier 4 Final Cat C2.4 Turbo, which delivers 41.7kW.
The 306 CR Next Generation Mini Excavator also brings an impressive 65 per cent increase in lift over the 305.5E2. This is impressive on its own, but when combined with a 25 per cent improvement in swing torque, the 306CR performs whether digging on slopes or lifting and placing heavy objects.
What’s really interesting is to understand why Cat consider these “Next Generation” Mini Excavators. Here’s a rundown on some of the industry-first features that come with these new models:
Stick Steer and Cruise control
New to the industry, stick steer and cruise control are standard features on all Cat Next Generation Mini Excavators. At the press of a button on the left joystick the machine switches off the traditional travel levers and activates travel through the left joystick.
Stick steer allows operators to quickly and efficiently doze, backblade, cleanup or travel by moving the lever in the intended direction of travel. Customers have the option of completely removing the conventional travel levers and controls to maximise leg space.
Switching back to digging mode is a simple push of the same button.
Cruise control, as the name suggests, is just like that offered in cars. When in stick steer mode and cruise control is activated (via a trigger button), the machine continues travelling at the operators chosen speed and direction until deactivated by a simple movement of the travel joystick fore/aft, or pressing the cruise control trigger button again.
Adjustable Hydraulic Response
Up until now the only available adjustment to hydraulic performance of mini excavators is via engine RPM. More engine revs gives more power and faster cycle times. Lower revs reduces speed and gives more control. Cat has changed the game, by allowing operators to set hydraulic speed and responsiveness to suit their experience and the application.
Want fast cycle times? Set the hydraulic speed to ‘fast’ mode and the machine provides maximum hydraulic flow for the power available, which is great for bulking out, trenching or truck loading. Have an inexperienced operator or need to lift heavy objects? Set the hydraulic responsiveness to ‘fine’ mode and it slows everything down so you can complete delicate tasks without compromising on power.
Full colour LCD Monitor
Cat’s Next Generation colour monitor covers a variety of functions all on the one screen. As well as analogue gauges for fuel and temperature the monitor serves as the control centre for most requirements including:
- AM/FM Radio
- Bluetooth smart phone connection to play music and make/receive calls
- Pattern changer
- Hydraulic coupler engagement/ disengagement
- 1-way/2-way auxiliary control
- Auxiliary flow adjustment
- Heater, A/C and fan controls
- Security passcode settings
- Machine productivity and service diagnostics
Keyless start and passcode security
Bluetooth keys utilise a proximity sensor and allow machines to be started with the simple push of a button. Alternatively, in the absence of the Bluetooth key, push-to- start can be engaged by entering a passcode via the monitor. Up to 50 codes can be programmed into each machine so operators, site foremen, service mechanics and owners can have their own code.
Advanced Multi-function Performance
Similar to the recently introduced 308CR Cat’s hydraulics have been designed to promote multi-function capability giving operators the ability to do more through simultaneous functions. This is achieved through the central computer system continuously reading the operator’s input and using this to share machine’s hydraulic power among different circuits including lift, swing, travel and auxiliary depending on the operator’s input at the controls.
XTC ‘Extra Tool Carrier’ Version
One offering available to customers is the 306CR XTC, known as the ‘Extra Tool Carrier’, which combines a traditional hydraulic excavator with a 4-in-1 style skid steer bucket in place of the blade. The XTC is actually a standard 306CR with skid-steer coupler and complete with its own auxiliary power to operate a second function like opening and closing of a multi-purpose bucket. With a universal skid steer coupler the ability to change with other traditional skid steer tools such as brooms or forks can really expand the machines usefulness across most worksites. At current this configuration has not been brought into Australia, but they are available should a contractor be interested.
OWNER AND OPERATOR EXPERIENCE
Finally, supporting all of this is an operator environment and overall machine design that will appeal to owners and operators alike.
For owners Cat has designed the 306CR using common components across its range of Next generation mini excavators. Common components means many identical parts are used across the range, which reduces parts costs and improves availability.
For operators the 306CR cab comes with a sealed and pressurised cab environment, which reduces noise and dust ingress as well as improving the efficiency of air conditioning performance. When combined with an air suspension seat and large overall cab the 306CR offers a great work environment.