The first next generation Cat 374 excavator in the UK and Ireland is now earning its keep at a quarry in County Down, Northern Ireland.
CES Quarry Products Ltd recently took delivery of the new 72 tonne machine which is working at the company’s Ballynahinch quarry, one of three quarries operated by this third generation family business which also has a blacktop coating plant producing high quality bituminous products along with various ready-mix concrete and block making facilities across the county, supplying a customer base that extends throughout the UK.
CES Quarry Product’s Production Director Ian McDougall tells us: “We opted for this new Cat as we wanted a machine offering more breakout force at the quarry face, and we also wanted to increase our productivity and efficiency.
“Fitted with a dedicated Cat Extreme Duty bucket, which adds another six tonne to the machine’s weight, the new addition is certainly living up to our high expectations.”
Packed with easy-to-use technology as standard, and powered by a 485hp (362kW) Cat C15 engine, with a maximum digging depth of 8.57m and a maximum reach of 13.16m, the new machine joins a number of other Cats at the company, including two new Cat 972M XE wheel loaders, with a third on the way, all supplied by Finning Ireland, based in Lisburn, County Antrim.
“We can now load our rigid dump trucks that much quicker than with our 52 tonne Cat 352,” adds Ian, “and fuel efficiency is great, as is the service and support we get from Finning. The team there is very good to work with, always offering a prompt response as we cannot afford any unnecessary downtime.”
The Cat 374 replaces the highly successful 374F, which has always been a core machine for Caterpillar, so changes to improve its performance and handling have been subtle rather than drastic. Booms have increased top and bottom plate thickness; sticks have increased side, bottom, and bracket plate thickness; and frames have increased base frame and counterweight mounting plate thickness.
Additional reinforcements are built into the car body, track link, track rollers, and boom, stick, and bucket cylinders, all of this, say Caterpillar, is designed to ensure long-term, trouble-free performance.
Operator Says Cat 374 is More Productive, with Smooth Hydraulics & Plenty of Digging Force
Operator Ian Graham has been working on excavators for the past 20 years or so; he began his career in the cab of an early JCB 3CX backhoe and has since had plenty of experience with the Caterpillar brand, from a Cat 315 right up to the 52 tonne Cat 352.
“It is much more productive compared to the Cat 352,” says Ian, who was loading up a Terex TR60 dump truck when we caught up with him at the company’s Ballynahinch quarry. “It takes only eight passes to load the dump truck, whereas the 52 tonner would have taken 12, so that’s quite a difference. Ripping rock out from the quarry face is also easier with this new machine because it has the weight and digging power behind it.
Ian has three modes of operation at his disposal. Power mode is maximum power at all times, while ECO mode lowers engine speed and cycle times without compromising breakout force. Smart mode, meanwhile, takes the guesswork out by automatically matching engine and hydraulic power to digging conditions – that not only reduces fuel consumption but also improves performance.
The cooling system features a new on-demand fan that’s designed to operate only when required, saving fuel and ensuring maximum efficiency, while an available auto reverse function assists with cleaning debris from the cooling cores — another plus for enhanced efficiency.
We should also mention that the machine’s exclusive hydrostatic swing circuit has a dedicated bi-directional swing pump, swing motors, charge pump, and charge accumulator. The swing pump supplies oil to the swing motor; the charge pump and charge accumulator prevent air bubbles and overheating. The circuit enables regeneration of swing brake energy and independent management of cylinder oil flow. What that means for owners and operators is higher operating efficiency and smoother, more predictable performance when multi-tasking with the excavator.
Driver Friendly Premium Cab Provides Perfect Working Environment
CES opted for the Premium top of the range cab, for which Ian is very thankful. “We work long hours here at the quarry, so it’s good to have a cab that provides plenty of space and comfort,” says Ian. “The air suspended seat virtually wraps around me, thanks to its adjustments, and can be both heated and cooled, depending on the weather.
“I can’t complain about my working environment; all the controls are positioned in front of me, and getting access to all the information and settings is easy with the touch screen monitor which is first class.” Shortcut keys make it even easier for him, including two for entertainment and heating and air conditioning. There is also a shortcut key for apps and functions that you can set.
“Visibility is great, too – much better than my previous machine. There’s a full 360 degree camera system which is very good if I am working in tight spaces.”
Programmable joystick buttons allow you to set control patterns and hydraulic response rates, permitting machine operation to be tailored to individual preferences. Also of note is the tilt-up console that allows easy cab entry and exit.
The excavator comes with Cat Payload, which delivers exact load targets with on-the-go weighing, helping to prevent over- or under-loading, while the Lift Assist safety feature calculates the weight of the actual load being lifted and compares it to the excavator’s rated capability, with visual and auditory alerts telling you if the excavator is within a safe working range.
The machine also features Cat Grade with 2D gives operators visual guidance to grade via the standard touchscreen monitor so they can make more accurate cuts. The system is readily upgradable to Cat Grade with Advanced 2D or Cat Grade with 3D for enhanced accuracy. Advanced 2D includes an additional touchscreen monitor to enable in-field design. 3D adds GPS and GLONASS positioning for pinpoint accuracy. The 374’s built-in communication technology makes it easier than ever to connect to 3D services like Trimble Connected Community or Virtual Reference Station.
Caterpillar’s 2D E-fence technology also comes as standard. It automatically stops the excavator motion using pre-set parameters to protect the excavator from damage and prevents operator fatigue by reducing over-swinging and over-digging.
There’s also plenty of space to put your gear with storage areas beneath and behind the seat, overhead, and in the consoles, while the standard radio’s USB ports and Bluetooth technology make it easy to connect personal devices and make hands-free calls.
Reduced Maintenance Costs with Extended Service Intervals
Caterpillar say you can expect up to 20 percent less maintenance cost than the 374F due to reduced hydraulic oil capacity and extended and synchronised service intervals. The excavator is auto lube ready with built-in mounting points; an available auto lube retrofit kit provides additional hardware to mount a grease pump and line guards.
The new Cat air filter with an integrated pre-cleaner and primary and secondary filters provides double the dust-holding capacity of the previous design; the new Cat hydraulic return filter has a 3,000-hour service life (a 50% increase over previous filters); and fuel system filters are synchronised for service at 1,000 hours (a 100%) increase over the previous filters.