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Cat 966K, 972K Wheel Loaders Improve Productivity

Tue May 03, 2011 - National Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

Caterpillar’s 966K and 972K wheel loaders, feature new designs and engines certified to meet Tier IV Interim emissions standards in the United States and Stage IIIB regulations in the European Union. The new loaders, which offer high productivity and fuel efficiency, have a new operator station, new electro-hydraulic steering with either joystick or steering wheel control, performance series buckets and a more efficient drive train.

A new Cat C9.3 ACERT engine powers both machines. At 1,800 rpm, it delivers peak net power of 267 hp (199 kW) on the 966K and 288 hp (215 kW) on the 972K. Designed to accommodate buckets ranging in size from 3.25 to 13.00 cu. yds. (2.50 to 9.90 cu m), the loaders work productively and economically in high-hour, high-volume applications. Both machines can be equipped with a Cat Fusion coupler and a variety of work tools, making them ideal for construction, aggregates, forestry, industrial and other material-handling applications, according to the manufacturer.

New Operator Station

Operators will work comfortably and productively in the 966K and 972K. New steps that have a greater inclination angle than the H Series provide easy access to the cab. A wider door opening, well-placed grab bars and a new front-hinged door that can be opened and closed while seated allow for easy entry and exit. Left- and right-hand sliding windows can be opened and closed with one hand while seated, making it easier to communicate with people on the ground.

A streamlined four-post ROPS design and a new operator position that has been moved slightly forward provide enhanced visibility to the front and sides, while a standard rear-view camera with large color monitor enhances visibility to the back of the machines.

The two models come standard with a new low-effort electro-hydraulic joystick steering system. Joystick steering permits operators to work in the most ergonomically neutral position with both arms resting comfortably on wide, well-padded, adjustable armrests. A high-backed seat with lumbar support further enhances ergonomics.

The Cat joystick steering system has a force-feedback feature that automatically increases joystick effort as ground speed increases. This improves steering control and comfort, especially at higher speeds. The joystick moves side to side; its angle mirrors the machine’s articulation angle.

An optional electro-hydraulic steering wheel system will be available from the factory several months after the wheel loaders go into production. It too senses ground speed and automatically adjusts steering effort to improve controllability and comfort at higher speeds. Full machine articulation can be accomplished by rotating the wheel approximately 330 degrees. This compares to conventional steering wheels, which can require two-and-one-half to five or more full turns to achieve full articulation. Retrofit kits will be available for the joystick and steering wheel systems, so dealers and equipment owners can change systems as required.

The operator station also features new viscous cab mounts that reduce noise and vibration; an automatic climate control that adjusts temperature and fan speed to the operator’s preferred setting; and a new center display panel with five analog-like gauges and a large text box that displays in-language messages. A “help” button explains switch functions in-language.

Two new membrane switch panels are located on the front right ROPS post. The large switches can be easily activated when wearing gloves. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and an audible “click” let the operator know when the switches have been activated. The loaders also feature a new electro-hydraulically activated parking brake. Optional heated and powered mirrors improve operator comfort and clear condensation and ice. AM/FM radios with CD players are available along with a standard MP3 jack and three 12-volt power outlets. An optional communication radio package provides a mounting bracket, antennae and DC/DC converter.

Performance Series Buckets

Cat performance series buckets come standard on the 966K and 972K. Developed especially for production loading, these buckets deliver faster fill times and better material retention, reducing cycle time and improving productivity and fuel efficiency, according to the manufacturer.

Versatile Work Tools

Many other work tools including specialty buckets, pallet forks, mill yard and logging forks, rakes, material handling arms and plows also are available to expand the application range for the 966K and 972K.

To further enhance versatility, both machines can be equipped with the Cat fusion coupler, a common interface for Cat small and medium wheel loaders. The fusion coupler not only allows one machine to use a wide range of work tools, but also permits one work tool to be used by machines of different sizes.

Tier IV Interim/Stage IIIB Engine

The new Cat C9.3 ACERT engine was designed to optimize power density. It uses a combination of technologies to reduce regulated emissions while ensuring high performance and fuel efficiency. An upgraded ADEM 4 electronic control module manages the combustion process and a new high-pressure common rail fuel system allows precise injection timing for a clean, efficient fuel burn.

The rugged Cat clean emissions module is securely mounted on its own platform above the engine and contains a diesel oxidation catalyst, diesel particulate filter and Cat regeneration system. Regeneration, the process by which soot is removed from the diesel particulate filter, can be set to take place automatically so that it does not interrupt the machine work cycle, and it can be initiated manually by the operator when preferred.

High Efficiency Drive Train

Drive train components on both machines have been designed as a system and integrated to optimize productivity and fuel efficiency. The 972K has a new torque converter that increases rimpull by 10 percent in all gears to boost performance, especially on grades. Both loaders have new transmission shift logic for downshifting into first gear. The new logic causes the downshift to occur based on the machine’s torque requirements instead of ground speed. This enables operators to use the automatic transmission mode in first through fourth gears. This simplifies operation, reduces dig times and improves fuel efficiency. Transmission speed shifts also are significantly smoother on both loaders due to this new shifting strategy that reduces torque losses while shifting. The result is faster acceleration, better ramp climbing performance and improved shift quality, according to the manufacturer.

Fast Service, More Uptime

Cat K Series wheel loaders retain the convenient, one-piece tilting hood introduced with the G Series. However, the rear portion of the hood now incorporates a clamshell design that allows quick access to the engine oil dipstick, oil fill, fuel fill and cooler cores for cleaning. New fold-back external mirrors allow easier access to a convenient step near the top of the loader tower and a redesigned window-cleaning platform that improves visibility to work tools. The full coverage grab bar around the roof cap provides a secure hand-hold when cleaning windows, replacing wiper blades or inspecting lights. Two ground-level service centers for hydraulic and electrical components permit faster, more convenient maintenance.

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