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Ease of Operation, Fuel Efficiency Drive John Deere 644K Hybrid Loader

Thu February 07, 2013 - National Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

The 644K Hybrid utilizes two sources of energy: diesel and electric. The hybrid loader captures regenerated energy as it’s being created and uses it to power the machine.
The 644K Hybrid utilizes two sources of energy: diesel and electric. The hybrid loader captures regenerated energy as it’s being created and uses it to power the machine.

The new 644K Hybrid wheel loader from John Deere is now available for value-driven customers looking to lower owning and operating costs. The 644K Hybrid utilizes two sources of energy: diesel and electric. The hybrid loader captures regenerated energy as it’s being created and uses it to power the machine.

“John Deere is committed to delivering the right hybrid solutions to meet our customer needs today, tomorrow and well into the future,” said Andrew Kahler, engine and driveline product marketing manager, John Deere Construction & Forestry. “The 644K Hybrid is a result of our dedication to integrating the best technology available to better the industry and provide our customers superior uptime and productivity, while lowering daily operating costs.”

The 644K Hybrid is equipped with a John Deere PowerTech 6.8-L ITIV/Stage IIIB engine that runs at an operator-selected constant speed from 900 to 1,800 rpm. The hybrid boasts a net 229 hp (170 kW) and is equipped with all the key features of the conventional John Deere K-Series wheel loader line.

The machine’s hybrid technology delivers performance that is equal to or better than the conventional 644K, depending on the application, according to the manufacturer.

The engine’s constant operating speed maintains continuous hydraulic flow at all times, which delivers crisp hydraulic responsiveness and reduces cycle times. The electric motor smoothly delivers torque resulting in fluid operation and a smoother ride. As a result, the 644K Hybrid delivers optimal performance for novice and experienced operators alike.

“With fuel prices on the rise, the 644K Hybrid can reduce fuel consumption up to 25 percent, helping contractors lower their daily operating costs,” said John Chesterman, global product marketing manager for 4WD loaders, John Deere Construction & Forestry. “But there is so much more to the 644K than fuel-efficiency. The hybrid’s features make it easy to control, virtually becoming an extension of the operator.”

Another benefit of the hybrid design is noise reduction on the job site. Since the engine runs at a constant speed instead of increasing and decreasing speed as the machine is worked, the engine noise is continuous and therefore less noticeable to both the operator inside the cab and bystanders outside.

During operation, a simplified, PowerShift, countershaft-style transmission maintains smooth shifting for added productivity whether the operator is stockpiling, truck loading or ramp climbing. The 644K Hybrid has four operating speed ranges, but no reverse gear or clutches as direction changes are performed by the electric motor. An integrated, spring-applied, hydraulically released wet-disc park brake requires reduced maintenance and increased machine uptime.

Like conventional K-Series Loaders, a sealed switch model (SSM) gives fingertip control of keyless start and 24 other machine functions. New to the SSM are engine speed adjust and coast control. The coast control feature allows the operator to enable dynamic braking through the SSM, reducing mechanical brake wear.


Four main components pace the 644K’s electric-drive technology — the generator, inverter, motor and brake resistor.

The generator is brushless and converts the rotational energy from the engine into three-phase alternating current (AC) electrical energy. It also can be driven as a motor to use recycled energy to drive hydraulics and save fuel.

The inverter is a solid-state electronic system designed for reliability, durability, and long life. The water-cooled inverter delivers electrical energy to the motor as demanded by the operator.

The single electric motor also is brushless for added reliability and converts three-phase (AC) back to rotational energy and torque. The motor replaces the job of a torque convertor, but also can work as a generator to recycle energy back into the system.

The water-cooled brake resistor passively consumes energy whenever the power electronics actively control its circuit and is only needed to consume excess recycled energy.

Fleet managers, owners or operators looking to get the most out of their equipment can rely on John Deere WorkSight, a suite of technology available for increasing uptime and productivity while lowering operating costs. JDLink monitoring provides real-time machine utilization and health data, plus location info. Fleet Care proactively suggests maintenance to prevent costly downtime. Service ADVISOR Remote enables the John Deere dealer to read diagnostic codes, record performance data, and even update software without a trip to the job site. Integrated payload weighing also is available and enables operators to monitor load data and optimize machine utilization.

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