CATERPILLAR has unveiled the first of its new products to be launched at next April's Bauma plant exhibition in Munich, Germany.
The 45-tonne 345B is the latest in the range of Caterpillar's B Series machines. The tracked
excavator is aimed at general excavation, truck loading and the demolition sector.
Hydraulic excavator product manager, Matt Keeley, said: 'Its features are designed to improve both performance and operational efficiency.'
Caterpillar's claims that in truck loading and trench excavation, the new machine outperforms by 20 per cent the 235 excavator it replaces.
The 345B is being built at Gosselies in Belgium and will be shipped to dealers from next month. It will go on general sale after Bauma.
The 345B is aimed at the 4,000-units-a-year, 33-tonne to 50-tonne excavator sector, but Caterpillar expects significant demand for a heavy-duty specialist demolition version with long and super-long boom options.
According to Jacques Girard, hydraulic excavator markets manager, around 40 per cent of excavators in Europe - 1,500 machines - are used for non- earthmoving purposes, such as demolition and scrap handling.
He said: 'The number is expected to continue to rise as environmental pressures lead to
increasing demand for recycled products and the number of greenfield construction sites
Caterpillar estimates that 80 per cent of excavators will be shipped without buckets by 2005 - so the company is taking special versions seriously. 'Until quite recently, special applications had been the preserve of Liebherr. I think we are now giving them something to think about,' said Mr Keeley.
The 345B features Caterpillar's Maestro electronic management system, which controls engine and hydraulics via four work modes: boom priority, swing priority, fine control and a user-defined mode.
Other features include a new 290HP Cat diesel engine; an auxiliary hydraulic circuit for attachments with four programmable flow settings; and a variable gauge undercarriage enabling road transportation at under 3m width.
An innovation in the demolition version is an optional high-visibility cab which tilts hydraulically up to 15 degrees for improved upward vision.