How Attachments Turn Machines Into Multipurpose Tools

The use of attachments transforms one piece of equipment into a multipurpose tool for a variety of construction functions.

The Werk-Brau Tilting Buckets are designed for a wide range of ditch digging or cleaning applications, creating unique slopes, and grading projects, among other tasks.
The Werk-Brau Tilting Buckets are designed for a wide range of ditch digging or cleaning applications, creating unique slopes, and grading projects, among other tasks.

The use of attachments transforms one piece of equipment into a multipurpose tool for a variety of construction functions, enabling contractors to complete their jobs more efficiently, bid on more and larger projects, create a more diversified portfolio and work in numerous weather and ground conditions.

Solving Challenging Jobsite Tasks

Attachments are the means to conquering some of the most difficult tasks on construction jobsites, said Jacob Sherman, product and dealer marketing manager for DEVELON. To that end, the company has a wide range of attachments and accessories to enable added flexibility and efficiency on the jobsite. Excavators can be configured with a hydraulic quick coupler, resulting in ease of changing attachments.

DEVELON offers a variety of buckets to best suit the most specialized applications, Sherman said. The DEVELON wheel loaders have an available quick coupler and variety of buckets to allow the optimal configuration for the job, he added.

Attachments are a key part of the jobsite, as they help increase the versatility of a machine, Kristin Stout, Caterpillar senior sales support specialist, pointed out.

“Using multiple attachments allow more tasks and jobs to be completed with a single machine,” she added.

“An excavator cannot dig a trench without a bucket just as a vehicle cannot drive without tires,” noted Alex Andrews, product manager at Werk-Brau of the criticality of utilizing attachments on the jobsite. 

Taking on a Variety of Tasks

DEVELON attachments are designed to create optimal performance with the associated machine, with some examples including excavator and wheel loader buckets, excavator thumbs and quick couplers.

“This allows all aspects of the machine to perform at its maximum ability, resulting in added efficiency and productivity for the operator,” Sherman said. “For example, if an application requires a high volume of low-density material to be transported with a wheel loader, a light-material bucket may be the best attachment for the task.”

DEVELON has partnerships with several attachment manufacturers to provide a wide assortment of models and types. Most recently, DEVELON provided machines during CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2023 for the Steelwrist and GRYB booth, manufacturers of heavy equipment attachments. Also in the DEVELON booth, a crawler excavator and a mini excavator were paired with Steelwrist attachments to showcase the partnership between the two companies.

Caterpillar has an extensive portfolio of attachments for any job, ranging from general construction to forestry, landscaping, demolition and agriculture, among others, noted Stout. At CONEXPO, Caterpillar displayed a new PC35 cold planer, CVP55 vibratory plate compactors, mini hydraulic excavator grapples G206 and G208, and 3D grade control for Cat Smart Dozer Blades.

“The new PC35 and PC45 cold planers are now compatible for backhoe loader and mini excavators, and come standard with the Max Pro Gauge, helping operators run more productively,” said Stout.

The new CVP lineup has added two additional models for backhoe loader and mini excavators, she added.

“This allows operators to be better matched to their machine and trench width,” she said. “These new sizes range from a width of 12 inches on the CVP16 up to 26 inches on the CVP55. The G306 and G308 are demolition and sorting grapples designed for fast, productive material handling with 360 degrees of bi-directional rotation. The G206 and G208 multi-purpose grapples are specifically designed for use with Cat TRS systems.”

Caterpillar’s recent rollout of new Cat attachments available for backhoe loaders and mini excavators aims to increase the machines’ application versatility. The new models are designed to be rugged and reliable and span the range of demolition and sorting grapples, multipurpose grapples for Cat Tiltrotaters, vibratory compactor plates and cold planers.

The new G306 and G308 Grapples are specifically designed for 5- to 6-ton and 7- to 10-ton mini hydraulic excavators, respectively. The new models are designed to excel in waste, recycling and heavy-duty material handling applications, where precise material placement is required. With open and close functions controlled by the machine’s first auxiliary function and rotation head handled by the second, the grapples are designed to deliver fast and productive material handling with 360-degrees of bidirectional rotation. A slim design makes it easier to get into tight spaces, Material capacities range from 160 l (0.21 yd3) with the G306 to 240 l (0.31 yd3) for the G308.

Vertical perforated shelves are designed to offer high wear resistance, positive penetration, good load visibility and easy positioning, while the oversized heavy-duty cylinder with load holding valve was created to deliver constant clamping force, even when maneuvering the grapple or machine.

The swing bearing features a single-ball heavy-duty, internally driven design for reliable operation with low maintenance intervals. The weld-on base edge design is made of HB500 Brinell equivalent material and bolt-on cutting edge from high-strength, abrasion-resistant steel. 

As the first hydraulic attachment expansion for the Cat Tiltrotator (TRS) product family, the new Cat G206 and G208 Multi-Purpose Grapples expands the grapple technology in combination with the TRS6 and TRS8 models for 5- to 10-ton mini hydraulic excavators.

The models are designed to allow maximum maneuverability with TRS attachments. An integrated bracket is designed to provide minimal offset to optimize grapple functionality performance.

With the G206 sized for 5- to 6-ton excavators and the G208 for 7- to 10-ton models, these multi-purpose grapples provide 14.5-kN (3,260-lbf) and 18.4-kN (4,136-lbf) maximum closing force respectively.

An integrated cylinder load holding valve maintains grapple closing pressure with no leakage, while the hard-mounted piston accumulator maintains grapple arm closing forces with shifting loads. Optimal routing of the integrated jumper lines and hoses is designed to protect against damage and dirt infiltration.  

The grapple design is matched to the tilt rotate system. The TRS rotation enables quick and easy material engagement. A welded box structure helps avoid any bending torques in radial direction.  The grapple arms and arm edges’ AR450 steel construction is designed for high abrasion resistance for longer wear in extreme conditions.

The new CVP28 and CVP55 Cat Vibratory Plate Compactor models relaunches the CVP16 and CVP40 compactors with new design enhancements and expands the Cat Vibratory Plate Compactor line. They are designed for the compaction of soil, sand, gravel and asphalt and for lower investment and maintenance cost for contractors working industrial, commercial and residential jobsites.

The Cat CVP range is performance-matched to Cat machines, covering all backhoe loaders and excavators ranging from the Cat 302.7 to the 313, offering compaction widths from 304.8 mm (12 in) to 660.4 mm (26 in) and compact areas ranging from 0.19 m2 (2 ft2) to 0.53 m2 (5.7 ft2) at vibration frequencies from 33.3 to 40 Hz (2,000 to 2,400 vpm).

The optimized compaction frequency is designed to combine with force to drive material particles close together for solid, stable compaction.

A heavy-duty steel frame is designed to deliver maximum power to the ground. Rubber mounts isolate compactor attachment vibrations from the compactor attachment, minimizing feedback to the rest of the machine. The high efficiency gear-type hydro motor is vibration driven for consistent, reliable power.

The design’s access cutouts are laser cut for ease of access to hardware when mounting the top bracket.  The compactor is designed to be simplified with standard auxiliar hydraulics. Post and plate driver attachments bolt to the bottom of the CVP28 for specialized applications.

All models can be equipped with a backfill blade to help spread out material in the ditch prior to compaction. A swivel mount rotates 90 degrees in each direction to minimize machine movements.

The new Cat Cold Planers are designed for small paving jobs in residential and commercial applications for use on asphalt and concrete surfaces and to efficiently mill imperfections prior to resurfacing and remove deteriorated pavement and traffic lane stripes.

The new PC35 offers a working width of 350-mm (13.8-in) and 120-mm (5-in) maximum milling depth and is designed for operation with side-shift backhoe loaders and 5- to 6-ton mini hydraulic excavators.

The new Cat PC45 replaces the PC404 with its 450-mm (17.7-in) cutting width and 150-mm (6-in) cutting depth. It is ideal for use with backhoe loaders and extends the planer’s compatibility to 7- to 10-ton mini hydraulic excavators.

The cold planers come standard with a cut depth indicator to offer the operator a quick view of set depth. Milling depth is manually adjusted and locked in for consistent depth control. Their heavy-duty gear motor is designed for high torque and efficiency across the speed range.

A hydraulic relief valve limits pressure to the motor to extend longevity. A standard pressure gauge provides feedback to the operator, allowing for ground speed adjustments and enhanced productivity. The PC35 and PC45 reuse existing hammer lines and are equipped with drum center and width indicators.

Caterpillar recently announced new options for the Cat Smart Grader Blade and Smart Dozer Blade. The new external control kit for GB120 and GB124 smart grader blades is designed to expand use of these blades to Cat D and D2 series SSL and CTL machines, enabling customers with previous model fleets to run smart blades.

Automatic blade control can easily be added to the Cat Smart Dozer Blade with the new 3D grade control kit, using existing connections.

Previously, the smart blades were made available for customers with Cat D3 series SSL and CTL machines. The new external control kit enables end users to run smart grader blades on all D-series and select older Cat machines.

The GB120 and GB124 blades automatically detect whether they are being operated on a D3 series or machine equipped with the external controller.

The new external control kit includes a third joystick for operating blade raise/lower, tilt, angle and wing functions such as smart control for D3 series machines.

It also includes the wiring harnesses, a RAM mount, brackets and all necessary hardware required for smart grader blade control. Compatible with Cat Grade and Earthworks GO! systems, the new external control features selectable modes for left, right and tandem control. Standard cross-slope assist and full proportional control of all functions are designed to improve operating efficiency. 

The new 3D GPS/GNSS grade control for smart dozer blades on Cat CTL machines guides the operator to accurately grade planes, slopes, contours and complex curves.

It provides blade vertical height and horizontal positioning guidance, or, alternatively, the system controls the blade relative to a design loaded into the grade control system.

Automated blade control is designed to take the guesswork out of what the grade should be, allowing operators to achieve design plans faster. The 3D grade control system is designed to reduce rework, labor and materials used on the job. 

The base Cat Smart Dozer Blade comes standard with all the required hookups to install 3D grade control components. Software updates and the hardware are available for existing machines and smart dozer blades to operate grade control.

With all of the attachment choices available on the market, there are several factors to keep in mind for choosing the right attachment for the piece of equipment being used on a particular job.

The first consideration when adding attachments to a machine is the attachment’s spec requirements, Sherman pointed out.

The second consideration is the likely operating environment.

“Considering these two variables will generally ensure you have an attachment with complementary capabilities enabling an operator to take full advantage of a machine’s potential,” he added.

Stout pointed out that the most important factor to keep in mind is “to ensure you are buying the right attachment for the job, as well as the right attachment for your machine. Caterpillar has variety of attachments that are optimized for the customer’s specific machine and working needs to help get the job done more efficiently.”

Keep it simple, Andrews advises of attachment choices.

“What application is intended for the attachment? Are you performing everyday general construction? Are you into a more severe-extreme-rocky environment calling for upgraded attachments?” he added.

The equipment industry continues to be driven by end users seeking enhanced management tools and more operating efficiency, said Sherman.

That is achievable not only with enhanced hardware, but also updated technology. 

Sherman pointed out that technology incorporated into DEVELON machines is designed to not only enhance machine management and improve operating efficiency, but enhance operator safety.

“One example of DEVELON leveraging developed technology to improve safety is the development and launch of wheel loaders with the industry-exclusive Transparent Bucket technology,” said Sherman. “The Transparent Bucket feature comes standard on all 2023 7 Series wheel loaders and allows operators to have greater environmental awareness and visibility.”

The Transparent Bucket option is designed to offer a supplemental view from a monitor inside the cab, enabling operators to view objects or challenging terrain for greater work efficiency and productivity.

When added to a DEVELON 7 Series wheel loader, the Transparent Bucket allows operators to see large rocks, construction materials, obstacles and even people in front of the machine in contrast to an obstructed view using a traditional bucket.

This multiple-camera system helps minimize blind spots that occur when the wheel loader bucket is raised so operators can see what is ahead from the in-cab monitor. Not only is that designed to contribute to safety, but the ability to ‘see through’ the wheel loader bucket allows operators to efficiently dig into and precisely place material where it needs to go.

 The standard DEVELON Fleet Management telematics technology provides end user companies of all sizes the ability to monitor and manage equipment to optimize work uptime, said Sherman.

“Construction equipment owners can remotely monitor their machines and track usage by operators, fuel consumption, idle time, and more,” he said. “The telematics data is readily available to dealers, too.

“Dealers can often respond to an issue in less time because more information – such as the fault code and machine location – is available. A service tech can be dispatched to the exact location with the right parts to correct the issue.”

Werk-Brau recently introduced the Tilting Bucket with increased tilt force and 45-degrees of tilt in both directions designed for maximum control and articulation in ditching, grading and sloping applications. It eliminates machine repositioning to boost productivity while reducing wear and tear on the tracks and undercarriage. An enhanced, oversized cylinder design increases tilting force, allowing the unit to better hold the desired angle.

Integrated cylinder guards protect the cylinders and keep them functioning without damage or leaks. A single cylinder design is used for compact excavators, while full size excavators utilize dual cylinders.

The Heavy-Duty Excavator Bucket is constructed of high quality T-1 steel utilized in all critical or high wear components with a rigid top section to eliminate flexing. Heavy-duty horizontal wear straps protect the bucket bottom.

Each bucket is engineered with tapered side plates and a dual taper radius to reduce wear and make dumping easier. The Werk-Brau Tilting Buckets are designed for a wide range of ditch digging or cleaning applications, creating unique slopes, and grading projects, among other tasks.

At Werk-Brau, in-house design utilizing the latest in CAD and finite element analysis aids in testing the designs before any steel is formed, Andrews pointed out.