In early March while rental industry professionals were convening in Atlanta for the Rental Show, I was able to learn about and operate the latest John Deere Construction products at the company's demo site in Sacaton, Ariz., just outside of Phoenix. Not only was I able to test my operating skills on actual equipment, I also tested my jobsite abilities on the John Deere excavator simulator, which is designed to train and test employees on how quickly and efficiently a job can be completed. This simulator has a game-like quality, but is an effective tool to determine which operators excel at certain tasks and also which operators need more equipment training.
John Deere's new product offerings range from graders to loaders to dozers, and all are designed to add an edge to rental fleets. The company introduced G-Series motor graders, which offer users a choice of console-mounted controls or armrest-mounted fingertip controls, both industry standards. The G-Series also offers features such as cross-slope control, automatic differential lock and a rearview camera. For road builders, larger site prep contractors and counties with many road miles to maintain, the G-Series Grade Pro package offers a suite of productivity-enhancing features for high-production grading.
“With cross slope control, operators can choose to key-in the desired slope and maintain it with just one blade lift lever,” said Kent Stickler, grader product marketing manager for John Deere Construction & Forestry. The 185- to 275-net hp G-Series line includes six models, including three with six-wheel drive for added traction and power.
John Deere's K-Series wheel loaders include eight models and a new addition to the line, the 2.75-yard 524K, a utility-sized unit. Additionally, the 544K through 844K will now have joystick steering available. All K-Series 4-wheel-drive loaders include keyless start, seat-mounted controls, expanded sealed switch module and a new LCD monitor with a multi-function interface. The LCD monitor also provides screen displays of machine parameters, an operator check sheet, real-time fuel usage and extensive diagnostics.
“The easy-to-use diagnostics menu on our monitors allows technicians to get diagnostic information quickly and from one place without hooking up a laptop or using gauges in most cases,” says Jahmy Hindman, product marketing manager for wheel loaders, John Deere Construction & Forestry.
The rubber-tracked 764 high-speed dozer combines the speed of a grader with the flotation of a crawler dozer. As a result, operators can perform grading and moderate dozing at twice the speed of a similarly sized crawler. These machines also have the ability to travel 18 mph across a jobsite without damaging pavement. The 764 HSD weighs 34,000 pounds and is powered by a Tier-3 John Deere PowerTech Plus 6.8-liter engine rated at 200 hp. The 24-inch-wide tracks provide 4,989 square inches of track-on-the-ground for improved flotation.
Three new Worksite Pro attachments are now available for John Deere's skid steer and compact track loaders: a side-discharge bucket, a rotary cutter and a mulching head. Four discharge buckets ranging in widths from 60 to 84 inches come in two styles. The SD (dust) models are designed for lighter materials such as mulch, sawdust and straw while the SA (aggregate) models are designed for materials such as lime, sand or gravel. The rotary cutters are available in three cutting widths: 60, 72 and 78 inches. The cutters feature a heavy-duty ¼-inch-thick steel deck with formed side plates and heavy-duty skid shoes for added strength. The MH60 mulching head is configured to work with the carrier range of motion without the operator having to fully extend the loader arm cylinders, allowing efficient shredding and mulching. It also features a 60-inch maximum cutting width and a 74-inch overall width.