New Zealand loggers begin operating new Cat 538 LL Forest Machine
The operator can choose from three power modes, depending on the work tasks or application
GOODMAN LOGGING in New Zealand recently purchased and began operating the new Cat® 538 LL Forest Machine, and they couldn’t be happier, according to initial reports.
The company was one of the first logging contractors in the region to order the new machine, which Caterpillar Forest Products launched in 2017.
The 538 Forest Machine, available in a log loader (LL) or forestry excavator configuration, is the second model to be released in the 500 series. It delivers increased horsepower and swing torque and features optimized machine parameters for outstanding fuel efficiency.
Goodman Logging has about a month of experience with the new machine, and owner Paul Goodman indicated that its performance had exceeded his expectations.
The Cat 538 is equipped with a longer boom than Goodman’s operator was previously used to working with, so he had to adjust. “Once I explained how to utilize the power and physics of the boom, especially when shoveling, he was really impressed,” said Goodman.
“Their operator loves the new machine,” reported Shayne Kennedy, a territory sales manager for Gough Cat, which supplied the machine. “He loves the reach, available power, low noise signature, and heated seat.”
Goodman, 62, has been associated with the logging industry for 40 years and has been a logging contractor for more than 20. Goodman Logging includes Paul and his son, Nick, 29, and eight employees. His wife, Carol, handles accounting and payroll tasks from a home office, and his daughter, Kelly Goodman, is taking on administrative duties.
The company currently contracts for Hancock Forest Management to harvest radiata pine in the Kinleith Forest near Rotorua on the North Island. About half the logs are bound for export markets and half for domestic utilization, with low-grade logs being sent to the nearby Kinleith pulp and paper mill.
Goodman Logging is using the Cat 538 LL to shovel logs into bunches for expedited yarding and also for stacking logs at the landing and loading them onto trucks.
The Cat 538 is powered by a 122kW (164 hp) Cat C7.1 ACERT™ Tier 4 Final engine. “The larger engine has the capability to provide power for strong multifunctioning and improved implement performance – and ultimately more production,” said Jared Dunn, Caterpillar Forest Machine Product Application Specialist.
The Cat 538 is engineered for durability and reliability with proven Cat components, purpose-built upper and lower frames, and increased cooling capability to maximize machine uptime. The machine features a wider track gauge and heavy-duty counterweight to maximize stability and operator experience in diverse logging conditions. Application versatility is enhanced with purposebuilt boom and stick arrangements and new grouser options.
Uniform engine speed control maintains a constant speed regardless of load, aiding in unprecedented fuel efficiency. Other features also contribute to fuel economy. For example, with automatic engine speed control the machines revert automatically to a lower idle speed when there is a lull in operation. And the operator can choose from three power modes, depending on the work tasks or application.
The hydraulic system delivers a higher level of efficiency and power. “Pumps are upsized to maximize hydraulic flow,” said Dunn. “The engine can run at a lower rpm, burning less fuel, yet the Cat 538 has the needed power to perform more work.”
Other updates to the hydraulic system provide an impressive boost in performance: maximum flow, greater swing torque, and added lift capacity. The increases mean improved implement performance, lifting bigger payloads with better control -- and more production.
An improved side-by-side cooling system increases cooling capacity. The radiator package has been updated, and fin spacing has increased to improve airflow and cooling capability. A standard auto-reversing fan with the ability to optimize fan blade pitch increases service intervals and maintains proper engine operating temperature.
The spacious, quiet, comfortable cab is pressurized and features a bi-level air conditioner, heater, and defroster to keep the operator comfortable in any weather. Other features include heated and cooled seat, LED lights, satellite radio, auxiliary audio port for MP3 players, and 12-volt power supply sockets for charging.
The Cat 538 was designed with the customer and service technician in mind and to be easy to maintain. Many service locations are readily accessible at ground level; critical maintenance can be completed quickly and efficiently.
Optimized efficiency and proven reliability and durability add up to more machine uptime and lower ownership and operating costs. The combination maximizes profit potential for loggers.
The benefits are not lost on Goodman. “At this point we are going to all Cat machines,” he said, “because they are purpose-built and have an exceptional back-up and supply system in place.”
“I have considered other machines,” Goodman added, “most of which I have owned or hired over the years, but at the end of the day good back-up is vital, and no other seems to compare to Cat (brand).”
Caterpillar customers are supported by the industry’s largest network of dealers who will keep them running with parts availability, field services, state-of-the art diagnostic programs, remote monitoring, and more.
Caterpillar employs over 1,000 people and operates two major distribution centres in Melbourne and Brisbane supporting nine Caterpillar dealers across Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Islands.
The Goodmans’ new Cat 538 LL in the foreground. In the background is a Cat 336D LL.
The new Cat 538 LL loading logs onto a truck.
The new Cat 538 LL at work.