On Wednesday, heavy equipment maker Caterpillar unveiled the Cat 336E H, a hybrid version of the Cat 336E earth mover. While it is a hybrid vehicle, it's not a typical tiny underpowered hybrid car, but a big beefy machine meant to move dirt, rock and other heavy loads at construction sites.
The primary goal is to use increased fuel efficiency to enable fuel savings lowering operating costs.
"The 336 excavator - a recognized industry-leading workhorse in our product line - made the most sense as our first choice for applying the unique hybrid technology," said Gary Stampanato, Caterpillar vice president with responsibility for the Excavation Division. "The new 336E H hybrid uses as much as 25 percent less fuel than the standard 336E, without sacrificing performance. No other hybrid machine in its class in the market can achieve these dramatic savings. Since fuel is one of the largest operating costs for our customers in general, quarry and heavy construction applications, this is a technology that directly improves their bottom lines."
In Caterpillar's definition, a hybrid vehicle is equipped with a device to collect, store and release energy during machine operation. The 336E H is configured to capture energy when slowing down or stopping, and releasing that energy when the machine accelerates. In typical operation the machine will repeat this cycle over and over every several seconds, giving huge opportunities to save fuel. The drive train is a diesel-electric design but Caterpillar is not describing the electrical storage capacity nor power of the electric motor.
The fuel savings also translate into a smaller environmental footprint from operating heavy machines. Researchers have learned that the exhaust from Diesel engines, commonly used in big trucks and heavy equipment, contains particles that cause negative cardiovascular effects. There are serious health issues impacting those who spend a lot of time around heavy diesel equipment, as well as the climate change and other environmental effects from operating heavy machinery.
Various incentive programs are in operation around the country to help fleet owners pay for cleaner heavy machinery.
Caterpillar also recently announced its first hybrid mining machine, the Cat 6120B H FS, a hybrid hydraulic front shovel that was introduced in late September. According to that vehicles' spec sheet, it cuts fuel cost by 25% without sacrificing productivity.
"Our technology strategy centers on research and development that meets environmental and customers' needs today and into the future," said Tana Utley, Caterpillar's chief technology officer and vice president with responsibility for the Product Development & Global Technology Division. "We use our deep bench strength in core technologies and our vertical integration to develop the right technology at the right time to help the business and our customers win. The 336E H technological advancements, with its more than 300 filed patents, is a testament to the strength of our strategy and the talent of our people."
The official launch of the Cat 336E H occurs in April 2013 at bauma, the world's largest construction equipment show in Munich, Germany. Cat dealers will begin taking orders in February 2013, with factory shipments beginning the following month.