by Colleen Suo
Although the official release of the Tier 4 Final G Series wheel loaders was early November, CASE Construction Equipment held a press event at their Tomahawk, WI Product Review Center in early October. A select number of industry media representatives were guests of CASE for a preview event.
The G Series family of wheel loaders features seven models; 521G – 1121G. Horsepower ranges are 141 hp – 347 hp and break out forces are 20,937 – 56,245-pounds respectively.
During a formal presentation in the Product Review Center, Andrew Dargatz, CASE CE brand marketing manager explained how CASE’s engineering and design team took a different approach to resolving the Tier 4 emissions requirement. Instead of viewing it as a mandate, Dargatz said they looked at it as a challenge and used this opportunity to reevaluate the interaction between machine, operator and maintenance crew as a whole.
Dargatz reviewed for us what CASE refers to as the five Pillars of TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) and how these categories steered the engineering and design departments through the development of the G Series family of wheel loaders. Briefly, they are:
• Productivity – how much material is moved in any given period of time
• Efficiency — maintaining those levels of production with lower operating costs (less fuel for example)
• Reliability – greater uptime equals higher utilization, which equals greater profitability for CASE customers
• Quality of Operation – using the science of ergonomics to improve operator comfort, combatting operator fatigue and increasing operator’s overall efficiency of production by providing the intuitive practical technology that allows the operator to quickly understand all the benefits and resources at their disposal, which leads to increasing the level of production and maintaining a high efficiency standard.
Maintenance – a key part of the total equation, which CASE has addressed with ProCare.
The G Series family of wheel loaders features a broad range of bucket and linkage options to customize the machine to its application. These linkage options include Z-bar for best break out force and general operation, the XR option offers extended reach and the XT option features a tool carrier/parallel lift configuration for better handling of stacked or palletized loads.
CASE was determined, according to Dargatz, to offer customers what they call ground-line serviceability, which simply means that all major areas of the power plant that need regular servicing or checking are accessible from ground level. They wanted to provide their customers with minimum downtime and maximum productivity.
After the formal indoor presentation, Ira Davis, a CASE Product Specialist led a walk-around of the 1121G model for the small breakout group I was a part of. He explained that CASE’s design engineers were instructed that after all the changes, the end result had to be easily serviceable. Davis went on to say, “I’m just like anybody else, if I’ve got to climb up, take a wrench, open it up, pull something down, etc.” it most likely won’t be done on a daily basis. “But if you make it easy to do, it’s more apt to get done.”
He went on to explain CASE was the first in the industry to offer equipment with an electric hood for operator comfort (no heavy lifting) and ease of maintenance. Opening a small hatch in the rear fender allows access to the hood control switch. It is an automatic lift cycle, but in order to lower the hood, the crew member has to hold the switch for the entire closing operation, a safety feature that keeps the operator engaged with the task at hand.
Once the hood is up, a side panel is lowered, the wheel well swings out and the engine compartment is completely accessible allowing for easy daily maintenance checks, filter replacements, etc. and the fuel points (which includes the DEF fill) are side by side in clear view and within reach. CASE has also designed immediate access to remote jump posts and master disconnect for the battery at ground level.
Both Dargatz and Davis reviewed the innovative cooling technologies standard on all CASE wheel loaders that not only keep temperatures down, but also keep the engine compartment clean. On the 521G-921G models, the CASE exclusive mid-mounted cooling module allows the coolers to be positioned in a cube design, which (according to Dargatz) ensures access to clean and cool ambient air and limits debris buildup and, if coupled with the optional variable speed reversing fan, manual cleaning intervals can be minimized.
On the 1021G and 1121G models, this technology features the cooling cube, which also allows for direct access to fresh air for each cooler. Nothing is stacked in the cube. With the hood still open, Davis swung the fan out so we could see the coolers positioned in the open cube design. He explained this design also ensures access to clean and cool ambient air and these two models (1021G and 1121G) feature the reversible fan to facilitate in limiting debris buildup.
Davis went on to say that as a result of the innovative cooling module and cube designs, CASE engineers were able to push the engine lower and further back into the machine on all G Series models, improving weight distribution and stability, and allowing for a sloped rear hood that provides excellent rear visibility; in addition to ground-line access to all regular service points.
As Davis continued our tour of the 1121G, he explained CASE’s reasoning in going with the SCR solution as opposed to particulate filters in dealing with Tier 4 regulations. He said when looking “at T-4 you had to pick your poison of which you wanted to address; particulate matter, which is black smoke or NOX gases which are both by-products of internal combustions. We went with SCR right off the bat and especially on wheel loaders.”
He went on to say that across the industry for the T-4 interim “everybody else went with the particulate filter – that was the cheapest easiest way to get to the T-4 interim numbers. We at CASE took a different approach. We didn’t look at cost, we looked at things that were going to help the customer and make it easier on the customer.”
Davis mentioned an idling wheel loader really did a number the particulate filters because while idling, more pollutants are generated than at full RPM and when it comes down to it, “what it does for most of the day is sit and idle so for us it made more sense to go with SCR and DEF fluid than the particulate filter.”
Once inside the cab, the operator can manage all functions of the machine using the membrane keypad in conjunction with the eight-inch LCD display screen. At a glance, operating parameters including fuel levels, temperatures and pressure readings, and trip information are completely accessible. During the formal presentation, Dargatz related how telematics from the machine can be uploaded to a computer through a port in the cab which can break out idle time, work time, fuel used and other diagnostics – such as hot running and key on / key off. He concluded by stating that ProCare allows G Series owners to “fully plan for and understand total operating costs of the machine for the first three years of ownership” and includes a three year subscription to Advanced CASE SiteWatch™ telematics.
Davis said that the dealer is also involved in the ProCare maintenance process as they get the same alerts as the owners of the equipment. They will be able to monitor hours of operation and know when the machine is due for service checks, etc. With all the other day to day responsibilities of operating and maintaining heavy equipment, Dargatz concluded by saying the overall design of the G Series wheel loaders and the three year/3,000 hour full machine factory warranty with a three year/3,000 hour planned maintenance contract, proves CASE’s commitment to lower customer’s TCO by minimizing downtime and maximizing productivity.