Construction Machinery Cabs : Welcome aboard

Cat MH3027 cab

Cat MH3027

Ground-level-entry option on Cat’s latest material handler shows the right direction of travel for the equipment industry.

Making it easier to climb into and out of the operating cabs of construction machinery is something that equipment manufacturers have finally started to take seriously. They have learned that low-level falls, slip and trips are among the most common causes of industrial injuries. Getting into and out of the cab may seem simple to a fit person working always in perfect operating conditions, but for those perhaps slightly past their prime physique or for those who need to work even when the conditions are muddy or icy – which I think therefore pretty much includes most of us, right? – then getting in and out can be the most hazardous parts of the day.

Increasingly, the cabs of mobile construction machinery have come with better access. Ladders arte being replaced with more user-friendly steps and handrail provision has been improved.

A couple of years ago Volvo Construction Equipment took this to a whole new level with the Volvo Step Safe Cab (pictured below) that it developed in conjunction with Kocurek, a machinery modification specialist.  The design is based on the EC480D but is available as an option for all Volvo GPE models of excavator, both wheeled and tracked from the EC220D upwards. The cab lowers hydraulically right down to the ground to eliminate all climbing completely.

Volvo Step Safe Cab

Volvo Step Safe Cab

 

This is the type of innovation that will need to become more mainstream, for two reasons. Firstly, it is becoming increasing seen as unacceptable that just because someone needs a wheelchair to get from point A to point B does not mean that they should be excluded from the workplace. The only reason why it is generally impractical for wheelchair users to operate construction machinery is because machinery designers choose to exclude them. This is not reasonable.

Secondly, with increased life expectancy comes a longer working life. Increasingly, we cannot afford to take our boots off at 65 and site around in retirement for another 35 years.  It has become necessary to accommodate older workers. Once again, the equipment manufacturers have to apply their minds to this issue.

It is therefore interesting to learn about Caterpillar’s patented lowering cab on its material handler product series.

Cat has just launched the fourth and final model in its greater than 25-tonne class of wheeled material handlers – the 28.5-tonne MH3027. The MH models are available configured for waste handling with a straight boom or for scrap handling with a ‘drop nose’ boom. A key feature of this kind of machine is the elevating cab that gives the operator a better overview into whatever receptacle the waste material is being loaded into or taken out of.

Caterpillar MH3027 cab

Caterpillar MH3027

 

Caterpillar offers customers the opportunity to select from two hydraulic cab riser options. There is the standard ‘cab to platform’ configuration or the ‘ground level entry and exit’ with a step-in cab that lowers to the front or the side of the machine to enhance convenience and safety for operators and service personnel. By the simple measure of allowing the cab to go down from its standard position as well as up, Caterpillar has made access immeasurably easier.

Other features of note on the cab on the new Cat MH3027 include sensors on the front linkage to stop the work tool making contact the cab. For maximum visibility out of the windscreen, joystick steering control eliminates the steering wheel. While for 360o views, a rear view camera is standard and side view camera is an optional extra.

Manufacturers often talk about making life easier for the operator. It is especially heartening to see them making life easier for all operators, and not just the most able-bodied ones.

 

 

Steve Rhine

About Steve Rhine

Community Manager at MachineryZone USA - All latest construction news on MachineryZone Mag!