Review: John Deere E360 excavator

By: Ron Horner, Video by: Micheal Grassick

Presented by
  • Earthmovers & Exacavators

The big news at Dirt Diesel and Turf was the John Deere/RDO Equipment partnership, which means Deere excavators will be available in Australia for the first time. Ron Horner checked out the E360 digger on show

Diesel Dirt & Turf Expo is always the place to get all the up-to-date "goss" on what’s happening in our industry and it never fails to impress me with the endless array of new equipment on display, new directions of certain companies and new players in the game.

2019 was no different … just a touch more sensational!

The big news on everyone’s lips was the partnering of RDO Equipment and John Deere in establishing a nationwide sales and supply dealership (except WA) for the full range of John Deere equipment right here in Australia.

Deere has decided the time is right to take on the Australian market and is intent on supplying the full line of John Deere products, including graders, wheel loaders, dozers, backhoes, excavators, articulated dump trucks, skid steer loaders and mini excavators through the world’s largest John Deere dealer RDO.

RDO was established in the United States in 1968 by Ron Offutt and, in just over 50 years, has established more than 80 John Deere partnerships throughout the world.

John-Deere-E360LC-excavator
Deere grader also on the stand

Sliding under the radar, RDO came to Australia in 2012 when it acquired a 50 per cent interest in Vanderfield (a 14 store John Deere agricultural equipment dealer based in Toowoomba) and in 2015 made a further investment in Vermeer Australia, making RDO the world’s largest Vermeer Dealer.

The announcement of RDO and John Deere partnering in Australia was the biggest news to hit Australia for a while and was the big news of the day at the 2019 Diesel, Dirt & Turf Expo.

The RDO/Deere stand was the largest square meterage site at the show and boy did they take full opportunity to showcase the new John Deere equipment.

There were several items of John Deere equipment on display, including the 670GP grader, 315SL backhoe and 210LC excavator. However, the one that caught my eye sitting front and centre, and what I believe could be a real winner, was a Deere E360LC excavator just bursting with potential (albeit displayed in pre-production mode).

The venue for the official launch was hastily diverted to underneath a huge marquee as the heavens opened up, but it went off without a hitch to a packed house of interested customers, press and officials. With introductions from RDO’s Mark Kuhn and Deere’s Jeff Craft there was, to the team’s credit under rainy skies, a complete rundown and inspection of the E360 excavator by Sean Beardmore, territory customer and support manager of Australia and New Zealand.

John-Deere-E360LC-excavator
Great looker at any angle

BACKGROUND

John Deere is one of the largest earthmoving and agricultural machinery manufacturers in the US and I have often been asked from overseas contacts on what I thought of the John Deere diggers. Most were very surprised when I told them that John Deere did not sell directly to the Australian public but they did have a close distribution relationship with Hitachi Construction Machinery, which had endured for almost 30 years.

The seamless transition away from the long-term arrangement for both Deere and Hitachi has been on the cards for a while and with RDO Equipment on board to take care of the distribution, servicing, sales and maintenance as the newly appointed dealer of John Deere Construction and Forestry Equipment for Australia (barring WA where AFGRI are the appointed dealers), all appears to be on track for a successful standalone John Deere launch into the Australian market.

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Deere ... it wont be cheap

WALKAROUND

I had never seen a Deere excavator in the flesh before so it was a clean slate: no aspirations, no research and no predetermined or preconceived ideas of what to expect.

First impressions count for me and on my first look at the 36-ton Deere excavator I must say I was impressed.

Not being able to start it up, operate or demo this particular machine, it was left to my years of excavator experience to guide me into "the good, the bad and the ugly" areas of the machine, so all of the following is merely my opinion formed on a first and impressionable view.

This machine looks the goods. It appears that it would be a well-balanced machine; good length on the track frame; track plates can be either 600mm or 800mm in width (optional); extra-large cabin (which is ultra-comfortable for the operator); good vision from the operator’s seat in all directions; and the spec sheet reads pretty darned good as well.

John-Deere-E360LC-excavator
Plenty of power in those drive motors

SPECS

Deere has advised us that the new Aussie excavators will initially have the EU tier 2 stage John Deere Power Tech 6090 (9-litre) turbo charged diesel engine running a 238kW of power @ 1,900 rpm.  

The engine runs the tandem variable-displacement, electro hydraulic (EH)-controlled, axial-piston pumps developing 2 x 304 l/m (at 100 per cent efficiency).

The two-speed fully hydrostatic track drives can reach speeds of 5.2km/h at high speed and 2.9km/h at low speed but a healthy 600 litre fuel tank will ensure you get more than a good day’s work out of the E360 digger.

The extra strong and well-designed undercarriage/track frame carries 50 track shoes per side, two upper carrier rollers and nine track rollers (three guides) each side. That is a fair bit of track on the ground and if you wish to go wider you can always opt for the 800mm-wide track plates for those softer ground conditions you may be more familiar with.

You also can option the dipper arm length between 3.2 and 2.8 metres long, which means you can dig to a maximum 7.7m, cut at a maximum height of almost 10.5m and reach almost 11m.

When it comes to lifting, well you had better check your spec sheets as legal lifting limits are all designed around your lift point (with or without bucket), extended lift point from centre of machine and if lifting from over front or side of the machine.

However, the spec sheet on the E360LC states that it is possible to lift almost nine ton over front and over seven ton from the side of the machine. Just goes to prove that the stability and power of the machine is right up there with the best.

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Vision from the cab is excellent

IN THE CAB

I know others whom base their opinions of a certain machine or machines on performance only. However, to me there are several areas that have to be ticked for me to say "yay or nay" before I can form an honest, unbiased opinion.

Operator comfort is a major plus for me in forming an opinion on a machine – after all it is us operators who have to sit in it day after day, week after week in all conditions sometimes day and night so you had better be feeling comfortable in your home away from home. You most probably spend more time in it than at home anyway!

There was something about sitting in this cab that was like pulling on a good old pair of work boots. It just felt right.

The visibility, seating, control positioning, screen size and simplistic dash layout were ultra-functional but I suppose the most eye-catching part was the size of the cabin.

For far too long, in my opinion, we have had to endure cramping our esky, lunch box, water bottle, hard hat, jacket and at time tools into the cabin and that’s before we get to put our big fat bums into the seat.

Jamming all of these necessities into the cabin restricts air conditioning or heater air flow to the operator on many occasions, but John Deere have taken these issues on board and given us a bloody decent sized cabin for once and supplied us with plenty of lockable unit space as well.

Most new machines these days will be within about 5 per cent of each other, be it in breakout force, speed, power or reliability, but if the operator can’t be comfortable for a 10- or 12-hour shift your production rates will fall off by 20 per cent by shift’s end.

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Good looking boom but the bucket is not to my liking

BOTTOM LINE

Not being able to run this machine on the day was understandable but only left me with my mouth watering until the next time.

I personally am hoping to be one of the first to get a full day’s test run on our own terms with the E360LC, whether it be with the preproduction unit or the first of the Australian machines to come into the country.

I like the look of this particular machine (not so the bucket but they are optional ... I hope).

The Australian market is still pretty buoyant at time of printing and with so many brands available to us we are certainly being spoiled for choice.

John Deere is a world leader and, although it has supplied most of its branded types of machines before, this is the first time the Deere brand has graced our Australian shores on the excavator range.

Personally I can’t wait to get my hands on one … I think we will be all impressed.

KEEP READING

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