Product focus: Cat GRADE with Assist
Among the tech to catch our eye at the recent Cat F Series excavator launch in Melbourne was ‘GRADE with Assist’, which the company says can help bring a higher standard of grading accuracy and speed than even the most skilled operator can achieve.
The tech works by automating boom and bucket movements according to pre-set parameters, reducing manual inputs and therefore operator error and fatigue. It also means you get grading consistency across all your operators regardless of skill level.
GRADE with Assist is actually a combination of two Cat systems: the 2D GRADE bucket tip elevation guidance tool; and Assist, which is an automated boom and bucket movement feature.
To use GRADE with Assist, the operator must first enter depth and slope values into the in-cab display. Pressing the ‘auto’ button then allows the operator to move the arm forward.
When the cutting edge nears its target, the Assist function takes over and controls up/down boom elevation and the in/out movements of the bucket, maintaining a consistent grade.
All the operator has to do during the grade is control stick speed, which can be done with one hand.
The system also has a number of ‘protect’ features on top of the operator assistance.
The ceiling protect and floor protect functions prevent any part of the boom, stick or bucket from going above or below a pre-set elevation. This not only protects the machine and operator from overhead or underground obstacles, but also prevents damage to ceilings or below-ground utilities.
This, Cat says, allows operators to work confidently in cramped spaces.
Bucket angle assist can automate any adjustments to bucket angle needed to maintain precise cutting angles throughout the cut. If the operator manually changes bucket angle, this system retains the last saved angle value and returns the bucket to that position.
All of these systems and features can be overridden by activating a fingertip trigger on the joystick, which returns manual control to the operator almost instantly.
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