Raising Grade

Aug. 28, 2014

Caterpillar’s M3 motor graders-the 12M3, 140M3 and 160M3-were announced in January, and they incorporate the latest technology to enhance productivity as well as the latest emissions-control technology. Cat says the 140-size machine is the most popular motor grader in North America.

The Cat motor graders are set up for Cat grade control from the factory-a fully integrated grade control system that contractors are finding easy to use. The Cat AccuGrade system is the grade control system that can be added by the Cat dealer in the field if the purchaser didn’t opt for the factory-installed grade control system.

Caterpillar’s M Series 3 motor graders meet EPA Tier 4 Final/EU Stage IV emission standards using technology that is designed to be transparent, with no action required by the operator. There is no need to stop for regeneration. The system uses Caterpillar’s proven aftertreatment solution with the addition of selective catalytic reduction (SCR). SCR utilizes diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), which can be conveniently filled from ground level when the machine is fueled. Because of improved fuel economy over Tier 4 Interim and efficient use of DEF, M Series 3 motor graders deliver excellent overall fluid efficiency.

A new standard economy (ECO) mode can be turned on to help save fuel by reducing engine speed so the machine works in a more efficient range. The average fuel savings is up to 10%, depending on the application.

Credit: Caterpillar
This Caterpillar 140M3 comes fully equipped with grade control.

Cat’s M Series 3 motor graders are equipped with Product Link, a telematics system that helps fleet owners track location, hours, fuel usage, productivity, idle time, and diagnostic codes through the online VisionLink interface. M Series 3 machines also offer optional grade technologies like Cat Grade Control Cross Slope and Cat AccuGrade to help operators work more efficiently, productively, and accurately.

In the cab, operators will find the hallmark Cat motor grader controls-two electronic joysticks that reduce arm movement to help lessen operator fatigue and enhance productivity. M Series 3 models also feature a redesigned message display located in the center console of the machine. The display puts Cat Grade Control Cross Slope information conveniently in front of the operator, and also includes a DEF tank level gauge. Operators will also enjoy a more comfortable seat with heated and ventilated options, an optional seat belt indicator light, and several convenient new storage bins located throughout the cab. An additional convenience feature can be found in the engine compartment. New optional LED lights make it easier to service the machine in low light conditions.

Customer Input for Deere
John Deere’s G-Series motor graders now meet Final Tier 4 emissions standards with the implementation of a John Deere PowerTech Final Tier 4/EU Stage IV engine. The engine update also allowed engineers to implement several customer-inspired ideas to better meet the needs of today’s operator.

John Deere’s G-Series motor graders now meet Final Tier 4 emissions standards with the implementation of a John Deere PowerTech Final Tier 4/EU Stage IV engine. The engine update also allowed engineers to implement several customer-inspired ideas to better meet the needs of today’s operator.

When Deere developed the G-Series motor graders, its customers asked to let them decide what controls worked best for them. From that, customers especially contractors specifically requested the inclusion of a steering wheel on their motor graders. For that reason, the company didn’t reinvent the wheel; instead, it gave them one. John Deere motor graders include standard steering wheels, and the company designed its control options around it to ensure operator comfort.

Concerning control options, the fingertip armrest controls are available in the GP (Grade Pro) models and are increasing in popularity. As more customers are exposed to these fingertip controls, they’re more comfortable using them. Arranged in the familiar industry-standard pattern, the fingertip control option does not require operators to relearn the control system. And once operators experience the comfort of these units, they begin to prefer the ease of the fingertip controls. Additionally, the GP models build upon the growing popularity of grade-control systems offering cross-slope as a standard feature, again increasing the popularity of these models.

Cost is a key concern for contractors when selecting a model as they continue to increase the profitability of their business. Beyond price, understanding the type of projects and work the contractor is doing is important when selecting a motor grader. For example, if a contractor is working on a small parking lot or building pad, it would be more efficient to use the 600 series. On the other end of the spectrum, the 800 series would be appropriate for a bigger project, like a larger building pad, airports or heavy highway jobs. Basically looking to “right size” the piece of equipment to the job at hand.

In addition to the size of the equipment, it is also important to decide between the tandem-drive graders or the six-wheel-drive configuration. The six-wheel-drive is ideal for customers who want to put the whole weight of the machine to work. An example would be contractors who will use the motor grader for a snow-plowing application. The increased traction and added blade pull make the six-wheel-drive model ideal for the job. Other considerations when selecting a machine include added customer values like ground level serviceability, cooling package with standard reversing fan and event based shifting.

The GP models have additional features, including a return-to-straight button to automatically straighten an articulated frame for quicker work cycles, and a premium, heated, high, wide-back, air-suspension seat for operator comfort.

Today’s economy drives the necessity of total control on grading jobs. Anything less than total control could eat the contractor’s profit. By using grade-control systems, contractors can guarantee that required tolerances are met while eliminating the risk of overrunning estimated time and budgeted costs. Because the systems improve productivity, they’ve become increasingly popular for customers.

The “open architecture” design of the John Deere GP models gives customers the option to customize the machine to their preference. When John Deere showcased the motor graders at ConExpo this past year, it specifically displayed machines with Trimble and Topcon to highlight the “open architecture” design. The GP models are factory equipped with bulkhead connectors, sensor mounts, electrical wiring harnesses, integrated controls, and exclusive universal moldboard mast mounts. Customers are able to quickly and neatly add Topcon, Trimble, Leica, or other grade-control systems. For those who select the Topcon 3D-MC2 grade control system, the system comes ready to go when the customer takes delivery of the machine. Customers can finance the system with the machine purchase.

Choice of Controls
John Deere customers continue to get a steering wheel and can choose from the console-mounted, low-effort, industry-standard control patterns (G models) or intuitive and easy-to-use, armrest-mounted, industry-standard fingertip controls (GP models). If an operator specifies the fingertip controls, he’ll still have a choice between using lever steering and the ever-present steering wheel.

John Deere WorkSight offers solutions for contractors to improve operating efficiency and effectiveness, increase productivity, and reduce job-site costs. One of these solutions is grade-control. Customers can select a grade-control-ready option when purchasing a John Deere motor grader. The machine comes pre-plumbed, wired, and ready for easy installation of the grade-control system. Because John Deere offers an “open architecture” design, customers are able to select which system they want to use for the GP models: Topcon, Trimble, or Leica. For customers who select the Topcon 3D-MC2 grade-control system, the system comes ready to go when you take delivery of your machine.

JDLink also offers solutions for contractors who want to optimize their machines to increase productivity. JDLink can monitor an entire fleet, tracking data including hours and location, machine health, and productivity. By collecting important machine data, like excessive idle time, length of inactivity, engine loads, etc., contractors can smartly manage their fleet to enhance profitability and grow their business.

Running a motor grader is extremely complex. Technology, like automated cross-slope, simplifies the process. With automated cross-slope, operators select the desired slope and the side of the blade that will be manually controlled. Once set, the system automatically adjusts the opposite blade-lift cylinder to maintain the slope. Typically, this process required two levers. But with cross-slope, operators only need to use one lever. An example of an application that benefits from this would be that of a large building pad job. Instead of having to install grade stakes in a grid close together, the contractor is able to substantially increase this grade-stake distance and still meet the tolerances of the job.

Additionally, the automated cross-slope can be used as a slope meter. Colored bars on the LCD screen indicate the blade position in relation to the desired slope, helping operators stay on grade. Cross-slope is standard on all John Deere GP models.

Blade Down Pressure
Volvo says that what really matters in grader productivity is blade down pressure and blade pull force. The company says the new G900B-Series generation of motor graders has the highest blade down pressure in each weight class, thanks to optimal overall machine balance and the distribution of the main grader components. That’s not all: the new four-model range features new engines, rugged frames, sophisticated transmissions and a package of innovations.

The Volvo range consists of the 34,520-pound G930B, the 35,843-pound G940B, the 37,827-pound G946B, and the 38,709-pound G960B. All models feature new, larger displacement engines with more power and torque than the models they replace. Meeting the low-emission requirements of Tier 4i legislation, these new units feature cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) technology. This lowers the temperature in the combustion chamber and reduces the formation of nitrogen oxides by up to half.

The all-wheel drive model G946B features two variable displacement pumps and direct drive wheel motors. The system is capable of providing 8,500 pounds of extra drawbar pull at the front wheels, especially useful when working in reduced traction conditions or in snow removal applications (where drive at the front wheels can offset the sideways effect of working on slippery conditions). The AWD system also allows for a “creep” mode, which allows the operator to grade using the hydrostatically powered front wheel drive only. This can be desirable when performing fine-grade work where the rear tandem wheels might damage the surface.

Twin-Cylinder Circle
The latest generation of the Volvo exclusive circle turn system features two pinions driven by twin direct-acting hydraulic cylinders that provide instant, high-output torque. This enables moldboard rotation at any load, without the need to stop, reverse, or change moldboard angle. The load is shared over more teeth for high strength, allowing long life and reliability of circle and drive pinion teeth.

The new Volvo graders are fitted with industry-standard pattern controls, which feature low-effort, low-stroke levers and an adjustable pedestal in front of the operator. Optional joystick controls are available, which have buttons or triggers for the control of all main attachments. Joysticks offer predictable and proportional response for hydraulic functions, articulation, low-speed steering, and transmission settings. A dual-steering system allows steering via joystick (up to 18 mph) or via traditional steering wheel. Operators also have clear access to the onboard Contronics monitoring system, which has been expanded to include more grader functions.

An All-Komatsu Design
Komatsu America’s GD655-5 motor grader is powered by a fuel-efficient, EPA Tier 3″“certified Komatsu SAA6D107E-1 engine. The GD655-5 features a maximum horsepower of 218 and a standard configuration weight of 35,351 pounds.

The power train design positions the engine at the rear of the machine. This placement, along with the increased weight on the front axle, provides better control. Komatsu engine technology provides a three-stage, two-mode system that produces higher power with reduced fuel consumption. This two-mode system allows the operator to select either an economy mode or a power mode, depending on the work application. The three-stage system offers three levels of power from gear one through gear eight, producing more work with a 20% fuel consumption savings when compared with the previous model.

The Komatsu dual-mode power shift transmission is designed and built specifically for Komatsu graders. The dual-mode provides a lockup torque converter mode as well as a direct drive mode. There is also an anti-stall mode for direct drive. Before the grader stalls in a low-speed application, the transmission shifts to the torque converter mode ensuring operator control.

The Komatsu cab has a hexangular shape that eliminates the front corner pillars. In addition, the wide floor-to-ceiling side windows of the cab give the GD655-5 unsurpassed visibility. The narrow front console and narrow saddle arms offer the operator a clear view, providing the confidence to maximize productivity. A tapered engine hood improves the view to the rear of the machine and the rear ripper.

With a 21% larger cab compared with the previous model, the operator has extra leg room and a low noise level of 74dB(A). The open cab includes tinted windows with intermittent wiper/washers on all windows. An air conditioner/heater, electric rear window defrost, 12-V power port, radio, lunch box holder, cup holder and coat hook are all standard.

The console mounted hydraulic controls are arranged in the industry-standard pattern on each side of the steering wheel, with Komatsu-designed control valves built specifically for graders.

The GD655-5 has been designed for quick and easy maintenance. The easy-to-read, multicolored panel monitor allows the operator to check the current daily machine functions. Large service doors open wide for easy access to service points and daily routine maintenance. Refueling can be easily done from the ground. The tandem now does not require greasing.

The hydraulically driven reversible fan saves power and reduces noise. When working in dusty conditions, the fan can be reversed and the radiator cleaned easily.

In addition, the GD655-5 is equipped with Komtrax technology, which sends machine operating information to a secure website or smart phone application utilizing wireless technology. Data such as fuel level, operating hours, location, cautions, and maintenance alerts are relayed to the web application for analysis.

Credit: Case
The Case 865B AWD is built for easy maintenance, with features that include a one-piece hood, an optional reversible fan, and ground-level site gauges and service points.

New From Case
The Case 865B motor grader with all-wheel drive increases efficiency in wet and muddy conditions, and improves tractive performance, steering and side draft control in difficult conditions-ultimately improving performance in applications ranging from ditching and heavy blading to snow removal. Case motor graders also feature floor-to-ceiling windows, large side mirrors and the industry’s only rear-mounted cab/front articulation design. This gives the operator excellent visibility down to the moldboard, circle, saddle and tires. The unique articulation also helps provide an extremely tight turning radius (23-feet, 9 inches) for greater maneuverability.

Case’s A-frame drawbar offers excellent stability, and its wide stance supports the industry’s largest circle, a feature that requires less energy to turn than other designs. The moldboard is made of high-carbon steel for longer life, and its involute, multiradius design permits it to cut, mix, and roll material off the moldboard effortlessly.

The Case 865B AWD is built for easy maintenance, with features that include a one-piece, flip-up hood design, an optional reversible fan that blows out debris, and ground-level site gauges and service points. The 865B AWD also comes standard with ProCare, a suite of product assurances that includes a three-year Advanced Case SiteWatch telematics subscription, a three-year/3,000-hour limited full-machine factory warranty, and a three-year/3,000-hour planned maintenance contract.