EARTHMOVING EQUIPMENT REVIEW – CASE CX350C EXCAVATOR
What you’re looking at is the all new Case CX350C – a fully loaded 35 tonne class excavator that’s set to give the competition a shake up.
In addition to the proven reliability and Japanese build quality that its previous “B” series already offered, the all new “C” series marks the addition of a new ROPS-compliant cab and an interim tier 4 compliant Isuzu engine, amongst other improvements. This truly is a massive leap forward for Case, propelling it to the forefront of the small to medium size excavator market. The Case excavator factory is located in Japan and is one of the more impressive facilities I’ve had the good fortune of visiting. Case’s build quality and manufacturing techniques are second to none; combine that with premium quality components from industry leading suppliers and you’ve got yourself one very smart machine, not to mention one very productive operator.
The Case CX350C features an electronically controlled pump and auxiliary hydraulic circuit enabling the operator to set both the pressure and flow rate supplied to your auxiliary attachments at the push of a button. This makes using a range of attachments a real breeze, no longer requiring an external flow meter to ensure your hammer or auger is running at the optimal speed. The design engineers at Case have developed five new energy saving features that make up their new “Intelligent Hydraulic System” (IHS). These features include Boom Economy Control (BEC), which senses and controls engine load and fuel consumption during boom down and swing operation; Idle Management System (IMS) manages engine rpm, lowering engine revs after five seconds of inactivity and shutting down after three minutes of inactivity; Swing Relief Control (SWC) regulates hydraulic flow at the start of the swing operation to optimise performance while minimising fuel consumption; Auto Economy Control (AEC) improves fuel efficiency whenever the joysticks are in the neutral position; while Spool Stroke Control (SSC) senses pressure during the digging operation to further optimise the hydraulic pressure requirements for fuel efficient operation. Put simply, while you’re working, the new Case CX350C is working on lowering your operating costs for you.
The operator’s station now features a larger 7-inch backlit LED monitor (or roughly the size of two cigarette packets side by side). This panel, which also doubles as the rear camera monitor, displays all the vital information required while allowing various levels of access and optional modes for added convenience. The operator has the option of three work modes labelled with “A” for auto, “H” for heavy and “SP” for speed priority which also enables an automatic 5 per cent boost in performance when the system senses the necessity. With this dial, adjustments can be made to both the pump as well as the engine RPM. An economy gauge on the colour monitor assists the operator in choosing their work mode by displaying the most economical operating settings to further improve fuel efficiency. The throttle dial enables the operator to dial up the necessary balance of speed and break-out force to suit the demands of the task. Service modes can also be accessed by service personnel performing maintenance or conducting diagnostic tests. The cab air filter has also been conveniently moved to the outer left panel of the cab making it possible to conduct all service operations from ground level without the need to get in the cab. The operator environment is first rate, offering excellent visibility, rollover protection, clearly displayed information and enough room for you to make yourself comfortable. The cab is now mounted on new vibration damping, fluid and spring-style isolator mounts which not only reduced the physical effects on the operator, but also reduced the noise level in the cab by stopping harmonic vibrations from entering the operator environment.
The new 7.8-litre Isuzu AL-6HK1X engine is equipped with cooled exhaust gas recirculation (CEGR) and a diesel particulate filter/diffuser (DPD). The DPD features automatic self-regeneration ensuring no loss in productivity. The engine produces 270hp while boasting fuel economy gains of up to 16 per cent. This has been done in part by reducing the engine RPM, adding a variable geometry turbo charger and tuning the hydraulic pump control accordingly. The outcome is reduced NOx levels and a means of capturing particulate matter without the use of diesel exhaust additives. Hydraulic flow comes by way of two x 285 litre/minute variable displacement axial-piston pumps. Testing has shown a reduction in implement cycle times and the specifications I reviewed boasted a gradeability of up to 35 degrees, and a drawbar pull rating of 264 Kilonewtons. In layman’s terms – it’s faster, more powerful and more economical.
From a maintenance perspective, as with the previous model, all your general service points are accessible from ground level. Access to the swing drive is easy thanks to excellent boom base pivot point geometry, and belly guards are easily removed to access the underside of the engine by removing a hand full of bolts. The track frame design encourages dirt and debris to fall off as opposed to building up around the carrier rollers. Excellent clearance between the underside of the swing frame and the top of the track plates appear to minimise the risk of damage to the lower panel work. Case machinery has been around a long time and is now built in more than 35 countries and distributed in more than 170. The product line now includes: skid steer loaders, track loaders, wheel loaders, backhoe loaders, dozers, compact excavators and heavy excavators. If you ever had any doubts about the pedigree of the Case excavator line, that should be enough to put that to rest.
I’m happy to say that the Case CX350C hit the mark. I cannot criticise any aspect of this machine and would encourage any prospective plant buyers to take a look at it. Although it bears a lot of similarities and shares some components with competitive machines, the Case CX350C is a stand-alone machine which will please the most discerning owner or operator… “Case closed”.