Q: What was the purpose of developing Cat GRADE with 3D?
A: The primary purpose behind developing this technology was to improve accuracy and reduce the amount of time it takes operators to complete grading projects—ultimately, leading to a reduction of overall costs. This system differs from other Cat grading technologies because it is fully-integrated into the machine at the factory, in order to optimize performance with other machine features and remove the need for operators to remove gear at end of day. It also uses GPS technology to create a 3D grade plan with cut/fill data to help guide the operator and automated blade movements to achieve consistent, quality grades in fewer passes.
Q: On which Cat Dozer models is this technology available?
A: Cat GRADE with 3D is available on Cat D3K2, D4K2, D5K2, D6K2, D6N, D6T, D8T and D9T Dozers.
Q: How accurate are the grading capabilities of this technology?
A: Cat GRADE with 3D is an extremely accurate technology, grading within an inch to an inch and a quarter of your target. It is also compatible with Cat GRADE with Slope Assist. When the two technologies are used together, accuracy can be enhanced even further.
Q: How does the technology track and maintain the right blade positioning?
A: There are two GNSS antennas on top of the cab and the machine uses a system of sensors, along with chassis kinematics to calculate the position of the blade. The antennas are mounted on the cab to eliminate masts and cables traditionally located on the blade. This keeps antennas protected, and saves time by eliminating the need for daily component installation/removal. Compared with single-antenna systems, the dual antenna design adjusts for steep slope work and machine direction changes to yield accurate grades on every pass.
Q: Why is a base station needed to operate 3D GPS systems?
A: GPS technology utilizes signals from the satellites in the sky to send to the machine. However, these signals alone do not provide the accuracy that is needed to grade to an expected target. Therefore, the base station is positioned at a known survey point on the jobsite, and sends additional correction signals to the machine in order provide the accuracy required for construction projects.
Q: Does this system replace the need for an experienced machine operator?
A: Definitely not. This system serves as an extension of a machine operator’s skills. For the advanced operator, it helps reduce fatigue and saves time by reducing manual inputs by up to 80 percent. For more novice operators, the system helps ensure grading accuracy and also notifies the operator if they are exceeding desired blade loads. This technology does eliminate the need for grade staking, which allows contractors to reduce costs and safety risks, as well as prevent cutting below the desired grade.
Q: Is it difficult to learn how to operate Cat GRADE with 3D?
A: This system was designed to be as user-friendly as possible, making the learning curve minimal for experienced, intermediate and novice operators. Additionally, Caterpillar has partnered with SITECH®, which serves as the Cat dealer support arm for all Cat GRADE technologies. They provide everything from on-site training to software support.
To learn more about the Cat GRADE with 3D and how it can benefit your business, contact your local Cat dealer.
We just answered some of the frequent questions we have received about Cat GRADE with 3D. But we’d like some additional feedback from you.
What are the biggest challenges you face with grading projects?
On average, how much time and cost do you incorporate into job bids for manual grading tasks, such as grade staking?
Have you ever considered equipping your machines(s) or purchasing a machine with grade control technology? If yes, what are the most important benefits to you?
Have you ever operated a machine with grade control technology or Cat GRADE with 3D, in particular? If so, what did you think?
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