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ProjectTetra ... robust design provides powerful lifting performance.

ProjectTetra ... robust design provides powerful lifting performance.

Case unveils world first ‘green’ loader

June 2019

Case debuted several world-first launches as part of its innovation theme at bauma, the world’s leading showcase of construction equipment which was held in Munich, Germany in April.

Among them were world’s first wheel loader which runs entirely on alternative and renewable fuel and an industry-first combined steering functionality in its grader range.

ProjectTetra, Case’s methane-powered wheel loader concept, demonstrates a clear pathway to a renewable future for construction equipment, shifting away from a reliance on the traditional diesel engine. It reimagines wheel loader design, marking a clear departure from anything seen in construction equipment to date, says a spokesman for Case Construction Equipment, a brand of CNH Industrial.

The concept includes a methane-powered engine, specially designed and developed by sister brand FPT Industrial for construction applications. With a maximum 230 hp, it delivers the same power and torque as its equivalent diesel engine found in the Case 821G wheel loader, he says.

It’s powered by biomethane which is produced in biodigesters from waste products such as waste food, wood chippings and animal waste.

“We’ve been researching sustainable fuel sources for our construction machinery for many years,” explains Carl Gustaf Goränsson, president of construction. “Biomethane was the most logical choice for the wheel loader. We needed a fuel that could provide the drive and power that our customers demand. The fuel needed to be readily available, easy to refuel and power through a full day of work. We wouldn’t comprise on performance, so we set our designers quite a challenge.

“We were fortunate to work very closely with sister brand FPT Industrial, pioneers in developing sustainably-fuelled powertrains, with over 40,000 gas-powered engines produced to date. This technology is already tried and tested in other CNH Industrial brands as there are some 28,000 methane-powered Iveco trucks and Iveco BUS vehicles on the roads today.”

ProjectTetra not only uses a sustainable energy source but also benefits the environment in other ways. The methane-powered wheel loader concept produces 95 per cent less carbon dioxide when running on biomethane, 90 per cent less nitrogen dioxide and 99 per cent lower particulate matter than a diesel-powered equivalent. It delivers an 80 per cent reduction in overall emissions and also achieves a 50 per cent reduction in drive-by noise levels, he states.

“But biomethane isn’t the only option,” explains Goränsson. “ProjectTetra will run on network methane too, providing access to lower emissions than diesel, even if onsite biomethane production is not an option. This is important as we see changing regulations in some regions.”

Although sustainability was a huge factor in ProjectTetra’s definition, the design team wanted to showcase the very best of Case’s practical innovation, with the focus firmly on the operator and productivity.

“Automation and digitisation were key drivers in our design process,” reveals David Wilkie, director of the CNH Industrial Design Centre. “We are a future-focused business, and these are two of our key strategic pillars. These elements are the drivers for safer and more productive machines. ProjectTetra was a blank sheet so we could be as creative as possible including in the very latest technologies that matter.”

ProjectTetra’s cab features wraparound glazing and a high visibility roof panel, increasing the total glazed area by 16 per cent when compared to a standard wheel loader, he says.

All-around visibility is achieved with the use of viewing cameras instead of wing mirrors, which are automatically linked to the direction of the machine and viewed on the A-pillar mounted displays.

The uncluttered design means all controls are accessed through ergonomic joysticks and an integrated, armrest-mounted, colour touchscreen monitor, which adds to the feeling of space and a panoramic view.

The new cosseting seat automatically extends and pivots to facilitate entry upon door opening, returning to the operating position immediately after the operator is seated, which is an industry first, Wilkie adds.

An exclusive partnership with Michelin led to the development of innovative airless concept tyres for ProjectTetra. The lightweight and robust structure has been designed to withstand the extreme conditions present in construction environments.

In addition, the airless tyres reduce overall machine weight and a large footprint delivers low contact pressure. Advanced connectivity is achieved with integrated sensors, providing a stream of real-time data to both the operator and the control room. When active, the integrated sidewall lights are illuminated and also function as an additional safety feature. 

ProjectTetra can be controlled at the touch of a button through the armrest-mounted operating hub. Operators can access all key operating parameters and functionality including face scan to activate start-up sequence and bucket load-fill assist screen which displays target load, current bucket load and remaining load, among a host of features.

“The most striking thing about ProjectTetra is its design. It expands the pre-conceived conception of what a wheel loader should look like,” explains Wilkie. “We took inspiration from our emblem, the American Bald Eagle. You’ll see bird-like features within the design, from the integrated cab wings and the commanding stance of the eagle’s head and beak within the rear engine cover.”

 

Grader

In an industry first, Case also unveiled patented combined steering functionality in its grader range. The company has combined the industry-standard controls for the front wheel and frame articulation angle into one function, managed through either the joystick or the steering wheel. For those job sites that require tight turns in confined spaces, these two functions can be supplemented by the wheel lean function. At the touch of a button, operators can activate this functionality, making driving and grading tasks much easier. When not required, the wheel lean function can be disconnected from the combined steering, leaving wheel steering angle and frame articulation moving simultaneously.

Combined steering is a unique technology that uses a network of angular sensors to provide steering feedback to the vehicle control unit. It can be activated when required and used in conjunction with variable steering ratios to adapt to site conditions.   




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