The new Cat GRADE with 3D system for D3K2, D4K2 and D5K2 track-type tractors is an automated grade control system using GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) technology to precisely position the machine’s blade, without operator input, from first rough cut to finish grade. For added utility, GRADE with 3D incorporates the Cat AccuGrade Ready Option, which allows use of universal-total-station and laser references for automated control. The new system assists operators of all skill levels achieve specified grades faster and more accurately, compared with conventional methods, while also reducing staking costs and saving rework expense, fuel, and machine hours.
Cat GRADE with 3D is an optional system, installed at the factory and integrated into the design of the machine. The GNSS antennas are securely mounted on top of the cab, eliminating the need for mast-mounted antennas on the blade, along with related cables. GNSS receivers and a data radio are also neatly housed in the roof structure. Three inertial measurement units monitor machine orientation, and position-sensing hydraulic cylinders monitor blade position. The integrated installation eliminates the need to remove components at the end of the day.
When in its GNSS mode, GRADE with 3D can provide one-tenth foot-level accuracy by employing real time kinematic positioning technology, which integrates multiple satellite signals with information from an on-site, base-station receiver or other corrections device. The system compares machine location and cutting-edge position relative to an on-board design plan, then automatically positions the blade via an integrated, electro-hydraulic valve module.
The system also delivers this information to the operator via an in-cab display. The system’s 10-inch, color, touchscreen display is incorporated into the dash and provides multiple, configurable views that give the operator a comprehensive view of the site plan and of work in progress. For added convenience, control buttons for activating the system are integrated into the joystick levers.
GRADE with 3D, when activated, automatically controls the movement of the machine’s blade, both lift and tilt, to conform to digital jobsite plans. The only input required of the operator is to steer the machine, reducing overall manual input required by an estimated 80 percent. The new system also is optimized to work with other Caterpillar dozing features, such as AutoCarry, which is designed to assist the operator in attaining optimum blade loads in varying ground conditions, while reducing track slip. GRADE with 3D has the potential to increase productivity by as a much as 50 percent on some projects.
As an alternative to the factory-installed GRADE with 3D system, machines can be ordered with only the AccuGrade Ready Option (which includes the Cat Slope Assist system, sensors, processor, and wiring harnesses). When appropriate, the Sitech Cat dealer can then scale up this technology by installing the required GRADE with 3D components, including antennas, receivers, data radio, display, and Software Enabled Attachment key (sourced from Sitech). This flexible, scalable approach allows a lower acquisition cost for customers who might want the option of employing levels of grade control technology as needs and budget considerations change.