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The Anatomy of Choice: Behind Deere’s New Graders

Fri March 20, 2009 - National Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

Why are John Deere’s new G-Series graders poised to make an impact during a tough economy? It’s all about innovation and choice — and knowing the customer, according to the company.

“Grader operators are typically some of the most accomplished, experienced guys on a job site,” said Kent Stickler, grader product marketing manager for John Deere Construction & Forestry. “Graders are tougher to master than other pieces of equipment and with all that expertise comes an operator who knows what he wants. As a manufacturer, we can’t tell him what he wants, but we sure can ask him what he wants in a grader.”

The result of Deere’s extensive research, and feedback from the mix of contractor and governmental operators that make up its Customer Advocacy Group (CAG), is the new G-Series line, six models packed with features and options that put power and precision to work on any grading project.

In Control

“We had operators asking us for the traditional console industry standard control levers, and operators interested in easy-to-use armrest industry standard fingertip controls, but most of all, operators told us to retain a steering wheel,” Stickler said. “That’s why we went to work on the G-Series with the idea of choice. Contractors told us that one size doesn’t fit all. Why can’t they have fingertip controls with lever steering and a steering wheel?”

The new G-Series offers low-effort industry-standard controls or armrest-mounted industry standard fingertip controls. A steering wheel is standard with both. A simple press of a switch allows the lever steering to be active. The steering wheel is always active.

On the G-Series’ Grade Pro package, the armrest controls are standard. Operators can choose to use lever steering or the steering wheel to maneuver.

More Choices

“Operators also stressed to us that they need different tool configurations, so we took a long look at the ground-engaging tool positions on these new machines,” Stickler said. “What we’ve come up with are three choices that fit the way people told us they want to work.”

Deere G-Series graders are available with a front- or mid-mount scarifier, or a rear ripper/scarifier.

Road building and large site prep contractors have increasingly gone to grade control systems to help control the quality and accuracy of fine grading work, but everyone has their favorite system, according to Stickler.

The Grade Pro option includes many features. Most important of these is the integration of automatic grade control. The GP units will accept either Topcon or Trimble systems. Grade Pro units offer a suite of features, including:

• Armrest-mounted industry-standard fingertip controls

• Push-button return-to-straight

• Cross slope control

• Rear camera with radar object detection

• Integrated grade control

“No one offers cross slope control as standard equipment,” Stickler said. “With cross slope control you can choose to key-in the desired slope and maintain it with just one blade lift lever. Operators will find it easier to do their best work if they select a G-Series Grade Pro unit.”

G-Series units also feature keyless start with multiple security codes. Contractors can choose who has the codes — and when those codes are active — to better control access to machine operation.

The fleet management telematics of JDLink Ultimate are standard for even more control and maintenance advantages.

With the G-Series, more than half of the grease joints are now NeverGrease pin joints, increasing uptime and lowering daily maintenance costs.

The 185- to 275-net hp (138 to 205 kW) G-Series line includes six models, including three with six-wheel drive for added traction and power.

“The new G-Series is all about choice, reliability, serviceability and operator acceptance,” Stickler said. “If you’re looking for a motorgrader that will be on the job and productive for many years of service, the G is the choice for you.”

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