Innovative Iron Awards 2016: Cat’s Xtra Tool Carrier

The Coolest and Most Creative Compact Equipment of 2016

The bad news: Future growth in construction and landscaping will require increased skills and productivity to stay competitive. The good news: Manufacturers from Cat to Yanmar are creating cutting-edge equipment to help machine owners reach that ever-increasing goal for more efficiency. With a serious shortage of skilled workers, contractors are specifically searching for the most innovative machinery (the toughest skid steers, most productive excavators, safest wheel loaders, most versatile tractors) to help offset workforce woes and increase production and performance. Well, search no more. To expedite the process, we just went ahead and gathered together that list for you, highlighting the most inventive off-highway equipment, diesel engines, hand tools and OEM services and systems released to the market in 2016. We were challenged with picking the best of the best, but that just makes the honor of inclusion that much more impressive.

Caterpillar’s 304.5E2 XTC MHEX Creates a New Machine Category

We nominate Caterpillar’s 304.5E2 XTC as the most unique compact machine released in 2016. It is certainly a singular breed of excavator. Built on an E2 platform, the 304.5E2 XTC is a Cat mini hydraulic excavator with an innovative attachment coupler interface engineered into where the dozer blade normally sits. It’s actually a universal, skid steer-style coupler (manual only) that allows for use of compact loader tools including a general-purpose bucket, multi-purpose bucket, forks, dozer blade, broom, power box rake and even a trencher. It kind of makes the XTC an excavator/track loader hybrid. The idea of the 304.5E2 XTC is aimed at eliminating two machines when possible, allowing operators to achieve improved productivity in material carrying applications and reduce backfilling times. It’s easily one of the most innovative machines of the year and could be a game-changer for the mini excavator market (if customers are willing to give something new a try).

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