Compacting with Confidence
Hastings Deering recently debuted Caterpillar’s GC Series vibratory soil compactors in Australia, starting with the 12-tonne CS12 GC model. Ryan Van Den Broek explains what it brings to the industry.
Caterpillar has done it again. Already a force to reckon with in the single-drum soil compactor market, the introduction of the new Caterpillar GC series vibratory soil compactors in Australia by Hastings Deering marks the dawn of a new era for the construction industry.
Ryan Van Den Broek, Hastings Deering’s Industry Manager for Road Construction, has been busily training the Hastings Deering Paving Division in QLD/NT on the recently debuted 12-tonne-class CS12 GC models when Roads & Infrastructure catches up with him.
First introduced globally by Caterpillar in March this year, Van Den Broek says Hastings Deering had already received first orders from an equipment rental company in Queensland before first machines landed in Australia.
“As soon as we had machines on water and on the way, we had already made our first sales,” says Van Den Broek.
Hastings Deering’s own rental division has already purchased half a dozen units, expecting more interest from the industry as the new machines start rolling out. To put into context the significance of the new Caterpillar GC Series, one must be familiar with its predecessor: The CS56B vibratory soil compactor.
“The CS56B is class-leading in every part of it,” says Van Den Broek. “Over the past five to six years, the industry has tested the CS56B in the most challenging applications, from climbing dam walls to steep batters, and it has proven its performance on those critical projects.”
Where the new GC Series will fit in is within the general construction sector, that according to Van Den Broek, comprises over 75 per cent of the market.
“The CS56B is very high in performance and specifications, but because we didn’t have an alternative for the general construction, we were being compared to competitors that had lower specs but were much cheaper. Unfortunately, the way the industry is, it is a very much commodity-driven market so customers would just opt for the less expensive12-tonne rollers, without worrying about the performance,” says Van Den Broek.
But the new Caterpillar CS12 GC aims to change that. Though a lot closer to the average price point for other 12-tonne compactors on the market, Van Den Broek says the model retains the most popular features from the high-performance B series compactors.
Gradeability is among the first features any prospective buyer or user looks at when choosing soil compactors. Here, Van Den Broek says the CS12 GC is in par with every other compactor on the market, sitting only slightly below the CS56B.
"The CS56B comes into a class of its own when you are looking at doing some really steep work or big climb, with 55 or even 58 per cent gradeability. But the CS12 GC still has very good gradeability where it gets up to 50 per cent theoretical gradeability with no vibration. That is still a very high capability,” he says.
A high static linear load is another important feature in the CS12 GC.
“The best way to know the performance of a soil compactor is the static linear load, which is the amount of weight on the drum that is actually doing the compaction. For a 12-tonne machine, the CS12 GC has a very good static linear load, which we have achieved by keeping the drum weight and other components in the design similar to that of the B series rollers,” says Van Den Broek.
The CS12 GC also retains Caterpillar’s proprietary pod-style vibratory system and the sealed-for-life articulation point – both features that help minimise maintenance work for owners and operators.
“The pod-style vibratory system is a self-contained pod that’s made in a dustless environment. Being self-contained, you don’t have to worry about any issues related to lubrication. Instead of having to grease the bearings every day and changing the bearings every 1000 hours, you can use the pod for three years or 3000 hours without changing the oil,” says Van Den Broek.
“The sealed-for-life articulation point in the CS12 GC is over-sized, so that it can take the punishment that the heavier weight on the drum puts on it. In some older machines, you’d have to replace the bearings every 1000 to 1500 hours because the operators weren’t greasing the articulation points. With the sealed-for-life articulation point, there’s no daily greasing points, the only greasing points are on the steering cylinder. For rental companies, this means less repair and maintenance cost from operators forgetting to grease on time.”
Among other popular features retained in the CS12 GC is Caterpillar’s Machine Drive Power (MDP) technology, which means the compactor measures energy required to overcome rolling resistance to indicate soil stiffness. MDP works with vibratory system on or off. It measures 30-60 centimetres deep – about the depth of a typical lift. It works on all soil types, granular and cohesive.
The CS12 GC is also available with both smooth (CS) and padfoot (CP) drum models for the compaction of granular and cohesive soils. Dual amplitude and frequency are other features retained in the model, allowing operators to quickly change from high to low amplitude with a single button.
The GC Series offers improved operator platform access/egress with angled steps, anti-skid entrance and conveniently located handrails, whilst an iso-mounted operator station with rubber floor mat minimises vibration feedback to reduce fatigue. The machine’s design also delivers superior visibility around the compactor, whilst internal and external mirrors provide excellent visibility and an optional rear-vision camera further expand the operator’s view toward the rear of the machine.
Parts and support
With interest building up in the industry to start trying out the new vibratory compactor, Van Den Broek says Hastings Deering business centres are already stocked up with spare parts. The sales and services teams are also trained to provide the best level of customer support possible.
“This is an on-going evolution in Hastings Deering,” says Van Den Broek. “Whenever a new machine comes out from Caterpillar, we set our minimum stockings of critical parts across our network. We go to every business centre in Queensland and Northern Territory to prepare the sales and service teams to best support their customers. We are constantly training and re-training the team.”
And does he see the other models in the GC Series debuting in the market soon?
“Absolutely,” he says. “Eventually I can see this to be a standard across all of our soil compactor rollers, when we get to the 15-tonne and the 20-tonne roller, I can see that having a GC type model will definitely help. We will, of course, still offer the CS56B as a premium product.”
With over 22 years’ experience in the paving industry and a hands-on knowledge of equipment, Van Den Broek often lends his expertise to the team at Caterpillar when designing new products. He says he is impressed with the brand’s vision for the industry.
“I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in providing feedback on the next generation of Caterpillar compactors, profilers and pavers and I can tell you, Caterpillar is very good with forward planning. At any given time, they are not just looking at the next generation of machines coming out, they are looking at the one after. It’s something that caterpillar does very well.”