CLAYTON, N.C. – Lawn & Landscape visited Caterpillar’s Clayton and Sanford, N.C. facilities this week to see how its new lines of Building Construction Products are assembled on the factory floor and to see how the equipment operates in real applications. The three-day trip was part of a media blitz.
The BCP division has had a busy 2012 so far, rolling out:
- New work tools
- K Series Small Wheel Loaders
- K2 Family Small Track-Type Tractors
- 272D skid-steer loader and 299D compact-track loader
- E Series mini hydraulic excavators
- F Series backhoe loaders
- TL 1255C telehandler
- New vocational trucks
The theme that carried across all of the equipment was Tier 4 Interim emission standards, which is part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s national program to reduce emissions.
The final stage of the tiered program will go into effect in 2014. Essentially, the EPA is requiring manufacturers to build equipment where the air coming out of the exhaust is virtually as clean as the air going into the engine.
So what does Tier 4 Interim mean for contractors?
Essentially, it will now start to show in the cost of new equipment because of the technology needed to make a cleaner, more fuel efficient product. Tier 4 Interim, the second to last stage of the regulations, went into place Jan. 1, 2012. Meaning all equipment with 75-174 hp – your skid-steers, compact track loaders, backhoes – had to meet new requirements.
The industry standard for price increase will be about 8-10 percent. At the same time, there are performance advantages. With Tier 4 Interim, contractors can expect to see a fuel efficiency increase of up to 5 percent compared to the Tier 3 models. Tier 4 Interim also includes a 50 percent reduction in nitrogen oxides (smog) and a 90 percent reduction in particulate matter (smoke). Tier 4 Final, the last phase in the program, will burn fuel even cleaner than Tier 4 Interim.
Chris Thomas, an engineering specialist at Caterpillar, said with Tier 4 Interim, operators will feel more performance from equipment. Also, the new technology the company developed provides a more efficient system. “It’s not what you see, it’s what you don’t see,” Thomas says about Tier 4 Interim and Caterpillar’s cleaner fuel burning equipment. He uses this metaphor: “If a referee in an NFL game does his job well, the fans don’t notice.”
Roy Brookhart, a Caterpillar product and application specialist, said the company didn’t want customers to feel like Tier 4 was forced upon those buying and operating the equipment. In meeting Tier 4 Interim requirements, the company made multiple upgrades and overhauls to the new lines rolled out.
Caterpillar is working on ways to educate consumers about Tier 4. For more, visit www.cat.com/tecnology/tier-4.