Another powertrain development is the addition of a lock-up clutch torque convertor in the L Series, which provides superior speed on grade for load and carry operation.
Once the conditions are met for the lock up to engage, the loader operates in direct drive, which makes it a lot more fuel efficient versus a conventional torque converter.
Danloy notes: “What’s different and unique with our lock-up clutch is the lock-to-lock shifting capability that keeps the lock up engaged when you upshift for smooth, fast and efficient operation. Caterpillar designs and manufactures the whole powertrain: from the engine and transmission to the axles, so we can optimise the whole thing.”
The locking together of the input and output of the torque converter can lead to higher fuel efficiency by, for example, maintaining forward momentum on slopes.
The productive economy mode in turn has the ability to throttle the engine’s RPM when the machine is travelling — saving fuel as a result — while at the same time releasing the full power of the engine during load cycles.
Danloy adds: “The axles are improved with the introduction of a shroud around the bevel gear to reduce the friction between the oil and the rotating components.”
The L Series has also optimised operating weight with an increase in the wheel base and by moving the centre of the load closer to the centre of gravity of the machines — delivering faster acceleration and better fuel efficiency.
For the first time, the 980 incorporates load-sensing hydraulics that work on demand. This inclusion has increased breakout force by 15% during lifting and by 25% at the tip — making the 980L the most suitable machine for use as a face loader among the range.
Danloy explains: “Fuel consumption is linked to time spent at the pile: not when you move but when you load the bucket, and any improvement to reduce the time loading the bucket will have a direct impact on fuel.”
For the operator, the reduction in the cab’s columns from six to four has also improved visibility by 54%, while a ladder incline of 15° also makes climbing into the cab easier.
Finally, the integration of Caterpillar Production Measurement (CPM) into the machines gives operators the tools they need to avoid overloading trucks in markets where weight restrictions are tightly controlled.
Together, these wide-ranging improvements truly put the ‘L’ in Caterpillar’s new loaders.