Caterpillar's new 986H wheel loader

Caterpillar's 986H wheel loader downsized for use in emerging markets

Caterpillar's new 986H wheel loader
Caterpillar's new 986H wheel loader


On show at bauma China was Caterpillar’s new wheel loader, the 986H. Powered by a Tier III engine, the 42-tonne operating weight machine will be approved for release in the Middle East, Africa, China, and other emerging markets in 2013, once its intensive testing regime is complete.

The 986H fits in Caterpillar’s line up of larger wheel loaders for mining, quarrying, and other applications, but the machine has been downsized as a response to the size of trucks often used in emerging markets including China and the Middle East.

Caterpillar is keen to emphasis the efficiency of the machine, saying that it can saying that it load the 770G Off-Highway Truck (38.6t capacity) in four passes, while equipped with a high lift front linkage, it can load the 772G (47.7t capacity) in five passes.

In most technical features the machine is approximately 15% smaller than the previous 988G model, including horse power, rated payload, and bucket capacity, said Hugo Chang, market development manager, quarry and specialty industries, for Caterpillar’s Asia Pacific/Emerging Markets. The new model features the C15 ACERT engine, compared with the C18 of the 988.

“What we found is that a lot of our customers feel that our workhorse 988 is a little too large for their truck fleet,” explained Chang.

“It was a bit of a mismatch to the market demand. Two-three years ago we embarked on a new product introduction (NPI) programme to build a smaller sized loader to better fit markets with smaller sized trucks.”

Caterpillar’s large wheel loader product line has a number of customer segments, with big mines requiring the largest loaders. Smaller than the large mines are cement quarries, while aggregates require a slightly smaller machine. The 988 was primarily for the quarry and aggregate (Q&A) market segment.

“The China Q&A market was really calling for something smaller,” said Chang. In part, this was because the loaders had gradually grown in size across the years. “The [986H] is actually about the same size as the 988F was 15 years ago.”

Thus, said Chang, the design is similar to the older 988 model, but using the modern technology and componentry currently in production, including the C15 engine. The cab design fiundamentals come from the medium-sized 950-980 wheel loader range.

One common trait between all the large Caterpillar loaders is their powertrains, as distinct from the medium loaders. The powertrains of the medium wheel loaders are design purely for loading, while the powertrains of large loaders are designed for digging out. For this reason, the two product lines are separated into two engineering groups.

While smaller, the 986Hretains the internal power train design of the large wheel loaders that allows operators to engage the bank and dig out of the bank (breakout force).

The 986H is “definitely not a yard loader,” said Chang. Kris Dahl, product development manager, wheel loaders, at Caterpillar Research & Development Center (China) Co., Ltd, said that the loader is a great match with trucks found in growth markets, between 30-50 tonnes.

Key features are the standard lock-up clutch, electro-hydraulic (EH) implement controls, kick out. The implement system is a load sense variable system for hydraulic efficiency.

The bucket can be 6.1m³, 5.7m³, or 5.4m³. The machine is equipped with standard lift arm, while a high lift arm for extended clearance and reach is an option. The tyres are a R33 size.

“This machine was developed to be a great hard bank engaging machine, meaning shot stone, blasted stone, mining and impact quarry, and it performs very well,” said Dahl.

In terms of cooling capacity, Dahl says that the cooling package will work well in the Middle East, designed to operate at maximum power at temperatures as high as 47-50 degrees.

And if the machine is slowed down, it can operate at even higher temperatures.
As far as safety goes, a rear vision camera is one feature, while inclined ladders make entering and exiting the cabin easier for the operator.

The ergonomics of the cabin will help keep operators alert. Servicing is also made easier with grab-iron and rails around the access points.

As with any Caterpillar product, intensive field trials and diagnostic testing is being carried out on the first models built before the commercial release, which includes running machines up to high hours on customers’ work sites.

The loader will be produced at a new purpose-built Caterpillar production facility at Nantong, China, constructed with a $100m investment. Ground was broken at the factory January 2012, and production of the loaders started already by November that year.

The decision to produce the machine in China was made because it is seen as one of  the important markets for the machine in terms of sales volume. However Nantong is located close to the major port of Shanghai, for export to international markets, said Dahl.

Engine: Cat C15 ACERT Tier III
Net power: 300-310 kW
Operating weight: 42 tonnes
Bucket size: 5.4-6.1m³

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