The family is growing: Caterpillar adds 6-ton class excavator

Photo: CaterpillarPhoto: Caterpillar

Caterpillar showed off the expansion of its family of compact excavators with the 306 CR mini hydraulic excavator at the 2019 GIE+EXPO.

This machine marks Cat’s entry into the 6-ton class offering. Greg Worley, senior product engineer for Caterpillar, says this is the first machine inspired entirely from customer feedback. At the time, operators were looking for a machine bigger than a 5-ton excavator, yet smaller than an 8-ton machine.

Greg Worley shares the 306 CR’s specs. Photo: Jill Odom/Total Landscape CareGreg Worley shares the 306 CR’s specs.
Photo: Jill Odom/Total Landscape Care

According to Cat, this excavator was designed with an improved customer experience in mind. The 306 CR features the Cat Stick Steer system, a spacious cab, a fuel-efficient engine and load-sensing hydraulics.

Powered by the Cat C2.4 turbo diesel engine at 55.9 net horsepower, the 306 CR meets the Tier 4 Final/Stage V emission standards. It features automatic engine idle and shutdown features to cut back on fuel consumption.

The load-sensing hydraulic system has an electronically controlled variable displacement piston pump that generated 46 gallons per minute (gpm) of hydraulic flow. A high flow rate of 24 gpm to the auxiliary circuit allows the machine to run even the more demanding attachments.

The 306 CR has a maximum dig depth of 162 inches and 15,821-pound maximum operating weight when operating with the sealed and pressurized cab. A canopy alternative will be available in 2020.

This mini excavator has a swing boom and a 58-inch tail swing with counterweight. The new excavator model can lift up to 7,839 pounds in a 9.8-foot radius.

While the machine was built from the ground up, Worley says Cat did not need to reinvent the wheel when it came to certain features. The 306 CR has the same thumbs and couplers from the 5-ton model and the comfort features of the 8-ton cab.

Photo: CaterpillarPhoto: Caterpillar

The sealed and pressurized cab lowers noise levels to 72 dB(A) and it is heated and air conditioned. It has a Next Generation LCD monitor where landscapers can set personal operating preferences as well as monitor details such as the fuel and coolant levels, performance and machine adjustments and maintenance.

Operators can switch from conventional lever/foot-pedal steering controls to the Cat Stick Steer system of joystick control. Operators can select their preferred joystick movement for controlling the 306 CR.

Landscapers can choose between three blade configurations: straight, angled and extra tool carrier (XTC). The machine blade can help with backfilling and grading applications.

Downtime for maintenance has also been reduced with extended service intervals. Routine check points are easy to access in grouped service points and sturdy service panels.

“If it’s hard to do, it’s not going to get done so we make it easy,” Worley says.

Worley says the 306 is a powerhouse, but it is not a direct replacement of the 5-ton or 5.5-ton mini excavators.

Caterpillar also highlighted the earlier release of its 16 new Cat D3 Series skid steer loader and compact track loader (CTL) models. According to Cat, these machines advance the D and D2 Series’ reputation for quality, comfort, performance and deliver improvements in stability and operator experience.

Kevin Coleman, product specialist for the skid steer, multi terrain and compact track loader group, says that the D3 Series features customer-driven design changes. One example of these changes is how the enclosed cab door now opens 40 percent wider. Cat also added three more inches of space between joystick pods in response to customers requesting more knee and foot space.

The CTL models feature improved operating stability when carrying heavy loads thanks to changes in the undercarriage frame and torsion axels.

Kevin Coleman goes over some of the new D3 Series features. Photo: Jill Odom/Total Landscape CareKevin Coleman goes over some of the new D3 Series features.
Photo: Jill Odom/Total Landscape Care

All the D3 Series CTLs have two-speed travel, boosting efficiency on the jobsite. The 279D3 and 289D3 loaders have an 8.4 mph top-end ground speed, which is a 20 percent increase over their D Series counterparts. The 239D3 and 249D3 now have two-speed transmission as well, rather than the previous single speed.

This new series also ushers in a higher level of integration between the machine and Cat’s new Smart Attachments. The attachment technology allows the D3 Series skid steer and CTL models to recognize Smart Attachments and adjust the machine controls to align with the operational and informational needs of the attachment.

Control features like Return-to-Dig and Work Tool Positioner aid operators with repetitive tasks like digging, grading and loading.

For more information on the 306 CR or the new D3 Series, contact your local Cat dealer or click here.

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