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Caterpillar releases seat suspension technology for wheel skidders

May 6, 2016 - Caterpillar Forest Products is introducing a revolutionary seat suspension technology for its D Series wheel skidders that will provide comfort for machine operators and help improve the bottom line for logging contractors.

The Cat Advanced Ride Management (Cat ARM) seat suspension system is a semi-active suspension that dampens vibration and minimizes end stop events, significantly improving operator comfort. Semi-active means the suspension can adjust the rate of damping in real time, a breakthrough technology. The suspension senses the suspension motion and adjusts its rate of damping in response to changing ground conditions. Cat ARM automatically applies higher damping in rough ground conditions like those found in clear-cut applications and applies lower damping under smoother conditions, such as well-kept skid trails. 

The benefits of Cat ARM include:
●The operator is stabilized and experiences a smoother ride, reducing fatigue.
●End stop events are virtually eliminated, reducing accelerations the operator may be exposed to by up to 80 per cent.
●High-ply rated tires may be considered to potentially improve tire life while maintaining a smoother ride for the operator.

Caterpillar's new seat suspension technology can directly help maximize profitability for logging contractors because improved operator comfort and efficiency and reduced fatigue enable:
●Increased utilization of the skidder
●Extended shifts
●Potentially faster cycle times
●Potentially longer skid distances

A traditional air ride suspension system has limitations, notes Matt McDonald, product specialist for Cat wheel skidders. When a skidder hits a stump or dips into a hole, for example, this causes the seat to move fast enough that a traditional air ride suspension system may not fully dampen the movement, allowing the seat to hit a physical end stop. These end stop events cause fatigue, and they normally are the reason that operators attribute for a poor or uncomfortable ride. 

The semi-active feature of the Cat ARM seat suspension system virtually eliminates end stop events and greatly reduces vertical acceleration (g-force). An analysis by Caterpillar comparing Cat ARM and a traditional air ride seat suspension measured vertical displacement and vertical acceleration for both. Cat ARM greatly outperformed the traditional air suspension. The tests showed that Cat ARM virtually eliminated end stop events, reducing acceleration by up to 80 percent. Cat ARM clearly stabilizes the operator and provides a smoother ride.

Besides greatly improving operator comfort, the new Cat ARM seat suspension system delivers value for logging contractors. In addition to increasing durability of the seat suspension structure, improved comfort and reduced fatigue for operators allow them to remain in the machine for longer periods of time. Increased utilization of the skidder increases revenue and profit potential, particularly in the case of long skids, when return speed and cycle times are critical. Skid distances potentially could be extended, minimizing operating costs for the job site.

In addition, many logging contractors use the lowest ply rated tire possible on wheel skidders in order to improve ride quality since a lower ply tire provides more of a cushion or "give." High ply tires can increase load carrying capacity and potentially improve tire life, but they typically cause a stiffer ride. The introduction of the Cat ARM suspension, however, will allow logging contractors to consider high ply tire options while keeping the operator more comfortable.

Casey Bowman of Bowman & Sons Logging in Danville, Ga. is one of the first loggers to have a Cat D Series wheel skidder retrofitted with the Cat ARM suspension system. 

“I never feel the seat hit the stops anymore, which helps my back feel a good deal better at the end of the day," said Bowman.

All Cat D Series wheel skidders can accept the new suspension. Cat ARM will be standard on 545D and 555D wheel skidders, and it will be an option for the 525D and 535D models.

For more information about Cat ARM, contact your nearest Cat dealer. For more information about Cat D Series wheel skidders, visit www.cat.com.

May 6, 2016  By Caterpillar Forest Products

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