Compact Equipment Conversations: Dante Thomas Discusses Caterpillar’s Smart Attachments in the Second Episode of Our New Video Series

Welcome back, CE reader, to our new video series called Compact Equipment Conversations. This week, publisher Keith Gribbins has a digital sit-down with Dante Thomas, Caterpillar’s marketing manager for attachments. These two discuss Cat’s coolest new compact tech — Smart Attachments — specifically engineered for the D3 Series skid steers and compact track loaders. What are Smart Attachments? Well, watch the vid above already, but if you’re the reading type, well then continue to cruise below.

What Makes these Attachments Smart?

Last year, Caterpillar announced the release of 16 new Cat D3 Series skid steer loader and compact track loader models. These new machines advance the D and D2 Series’ reputation for quality, comfort, performance and tech but also deliver an industry first – Smart Attachments. This advanced machine technology recognizes certain attachments and tailors the controls and operator information to match the tool and the task.

These new D3 Series loaders deliver what Cat calls “smart technology” that ushers in a higher level of integration between the machine and these new Smart Attachments. This advanced attachment technology will allow the D3 Series Cat SSL and CTL models to automatically recognize Smart Attachments and convert machine controls to align with the operational and informational needs of that attachment.

Cat skid steers and track laoders offer advanced control features that include Return-to-Dig and Work Tool Positioner to assist operators with repetitive tasks like grading, digging and loading. These items are now bundled together with the dual direction self-level feature so that even more operators will be able to take advantage of features that automate machine functions to allow these tasks to be completed with less userinteraction and expertise.

Smart Dozer Blade

Three new Cat Smart attachments, a dozer blade, grader blade and backhoe, are designed to add significant versatility to a range of D3 Series Cat skid steer loaders, compact track loaders and multi terrain loaders. The control systems for the new attachments allow easily adapting the machine’s standard controls to precisely match the recognized Smart Attachments control needs.

The Smart Dozer Blade attachment is designed for cutting, moving and grading virtually any material used as a base. The blade features a curved moldboard to keep material rolling and a trapezoid design with angled end bits that allow flush-cutting against vertical surfaces when the blade is fully tilted. The D3 Series host machine recognizes the attachment and unlocks special display screens that allow the operator to select how the blade is controlled.

Selecting the attachment-control mode changes the standard joystick functions (left for travel, right for boom and bucket) and allows the left joystick to continue to control travel, while the right joystick now operates blade functions — tilt (moving the joystick side-to-side), lift (moving the joystick fore and aft) and angle (rotating the thumb wheel forward or rearward). In addition, the operator can select either a “lift” mode or a “tilt” mode to change which cylinders (lift-arm or bucket) control major blade functions, adapting the machine to be more proficient at either rough grading or fine grading.

The Assist feature enhances operator proficiency to achieve smoother grades with fewer passes by coordinating machine and blade movement to attain flat surfaces, allowing the operator to concentrate on building or cutting material to achieve the desired grade.

With the Assist feature enabled, additional functions are activated with regard to blade slope. A memory function allows the operator to select a blade slope and to recall that setting at the touch of a joystick button. A double press on the memory button will mirror the memorized blade slope on the other side. Also, for added convenience, pressing a button on the left joystick returns the blade slope to zero when the machine is on a level surface

Smart Grader Blade

The new Cat GB120 and GB124 Smart Grader Blade attachments unlock special display screens that provide options for attachment control, allowing the joysticks to be repurposed to perform attachment functions. Selecting the attachment-control mode allows the right joystick to operate blade functions — tilt (moving the joystick side-to-side), angle (rotating the thumb wheel forward or rearward) and lift (moving the joystick fore and aft). In the advanced display, the home screen shows the cross-slope of the blade, as well as the blade angle.

The Assist feature allows selecting either the Cross Slope Right pattern or Cross Slope Left pattern and maintains the cross-slope setting, independent of the machine’s operating angle. If the Cross Slope Right pattern is selected, the forward/backward movement of the right joystick controls the right side of the blade by raising and lowering the attachment’s right lift cylinder. The machine/attachment will control the left side of the blade to maintain the desired cross-slope, allowing the operator to focus on the right side of the blade. Cross Slope Left pattern reverses this setting.

Also, as the blade is angled and geometry changes, the attachment calculates and maintains the cross-slope setting. It even maintains the desired cross-slope angle when you rotate the blade to windrow the material. The special display screens of the Smart Grader Blade provides the operator with feedback about the orientation of the attachment, displaying blade slope, as well as blade angle.

Standard blade width is 78 in. for model GB120 and 96 in. for GB124. With optional wings extended, width is, respectively, 85 in. and 103 in. Blade tilt for both models is 15 degrees, blade lift is 6 in. and maximum cut depth is 4 in. Independent caster wheels rotate 360 degrees and provide support for forward and reverse grading.

Smart Backhoe

The new Cat BH130 Smart Backhoe Attachment is designed to significantly increases the versatility of these small machines, allowing them to take on a range of tasks, including utility trenching, digging footings and forming and maintaining drainage ditches. In addition, the backhoe is compatible with Cat 3-ton excavator attachments, and its auxiliary-hydraulic system allows pairing with hydro-mechanical work tools, including hammers, thumbs, augers and vibratory compactors. The backhoe also hydraulically shifts side-to-side to allow digging adjacent to buildings and footers and integrated stabilizers provide a solid digging platform.

The backhoe features integrated electro-hydraulic controls, which are operated using the host machine’s joysticks, eliminating the need to remove the door and allowing the operator to work from the safety and comfort of the cab. Attachment control mode allows existing joysticks to be used for boom, stick, bucket and swing functions. The host machine recognizes the BH130 when the backhoe is attached, and when the operator is ready to use the backhoe, pulling the trigger on the right joystick places the system in its dig mode.

Maximum digging depth with the BH130 is 9.75 ft and reach at ground level from the swing pivot pin is 13.25 ft. Stabilizer spread in the working position is 71 in., and total side-shift travel is 33 in. Operating weight of the backhoe is 2,325 lbs.

More info on Caterpillar, click this link. It’s pretty clickable. Try!

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  • Dan Kakareka
    April 14, 2020 13:37:46

    Great article Keith. Glad to see good content coming out during these tough times. Stay safe.

    Reply