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Chinese road building with Caterpillar excavators

First publishedin World Highways
January February 2017
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Caterpillar 349D L Excavator
A Chinese firm is using a Caterpillar excavator in a novel configuration for road building work
A contractor in China is using specially modified excavators to carry out key tasks for road construction work

The firm has acquired a number of Caterpillar excavators that have been supplied in adapted form for the project. The company is working on a contract to carry out work on a 4km road project in Nanning Road, Tianfu New District in Chengdu City.

Nanning Road is located in a mountainous area and the ground conditions are challenging, with a great deal of hard rock present. Typically, this type of ground would be blasted and loaded into a truck to be hauled away. However this is not possible for the contract as blasting is not allowed in the Tianfu New District project.

As a result the contractor had to come up with a different solution to move 2 million m3 of material in a 15-month period as required by the terms of the deal. And the firm opted to use Caterpillar ‘frontless’ excavators fitted with special rock arms and rippers.

Sanhe Rental purchased the machines through Caterpillar OEM Solutions, with the excavators fitted with a rock arm and ripper for this special application. In China, ripper applications on excavators are often used in areas where blasting hard rock is not an option.

After some research, the firm rented five 40-70tonne excavators to test their capabilities in these conditions. When the firm put these machines to use, it found that the Caterpillar 374 unit worked better than the competing models in the conditions. However the rent/month was prohibitive to using a full fleet of Caterpillar machines. After further consideration, the firm opted to purchase a used Cat 349D L Excavator with a rock arm attached to handle the hard rock on Nanning Road.

The Cat equipment worked well but the contractor was faced with another dilemma; a single machine was not enough. But if the firm purchased additional excavators and removed the boom, stick, and bucket, then those portions would be left unused and it would still need to purchase the rock arms and rippers separately. Additionally, these modified excavators would no longer be covered by warranty, meaning it would pay a high price for any service required.

All of these factors would hit profits, so the firm was keen to find a solution. As the company has had a long partnership with local Cat dealer ECI-Metro, it was introduced to Caterpillar OEM Solutions. The contractor explained the needs of the job to Caterpillar OEM Solutions, which then offered a package of equipment tailored to the task in hand. The firm was able to purchase a Cat OEM Frontless Hydraulic Excavator, which was approved for the specific application with a rock arm and ripper. ECI-Metro worked with a selected manufacturer on completing the machine, which is still covered by warranty through Caterpillar OEM Solutions. Not only did the newly outfitted 349D2 L OEM Frontless Excavator cost less than his original standard 349D2 L purchase, but it also avoided having an idle boom, stick, and bucket.

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