Caterpillar’s purpose-built M323F road-rail (RR) excavators are now at work in Australia, providing access to the first true AS7502 Type 1: Self-powered rail wheeled excavator designed specifically for on-rail work in Australasia while delivering a new level of safety and performance for the industry.
Four dedicated two-speed drive motors provide drive directly to the rail wheels, eliminating wear and tear on the machine’s road powertrain, axles, and tyres while providing unmatched on rail performance including operator adjustable hydrostatic deceleration. Dynamic braking performance is easily adjusted by the operator based on total load, speed, grade, or traction conditions and is complimented by large external dry disc caliper brakes on each rail wheel and inboard wet disc parking/emergency brakes. By braking the actual rail wheel any rocking motion induced by friction drive systems is eliminated providing a more stable, comfortable working platform for the operator. While the self- powered rail wheel system is more expensive, its performance is second to none, both in terms of drive torque and braking performance. Such performance cannot be replicated with friction systems traditionally used in Australia
Independently controlled, each dedicated rail axle is housed in a custom high strength cast cradle, incorporating oscillation suspension to absorb energy during travel and ensuring maximum rail contact even when experiencing rail cant. Each axle features a full width derail bar and guide and has been approved for both broad and standard track gauges in Australia, with a simple spacer kit to switch between gauges in the field.
Performance also comes from the custom- built upper structure. This is not simply a modified wheel excavator frame, although it does benefit from component commonality with the Cat M316F Wheel Excavator. At first glance, the full height compact radius counterweight confirms that this machine is designed for purpose, maximising lifting performance while maintaining a tight swing radius to avoid the many hazards that exist within the rail corridor.
A purpose-built factory secondary cab provides certified protection for a spotter or signal person and opens up to also allow full access to the centre and upper service access points of the machine. With open access to the main cabin, this is a perfect environment for a trainer to work with new operators live and on rail.
Safety is a priority and features throughout the M323F RR with double redundancy Rated Capacity Indicator (RCI) and Rated Capacity Limiter (RCL) systems using a proprietary, integrated Cat SMART control system. No more aftermarket, third party systems or suppliers, the M323F RR is truly purpose built from the ground up. A 360° LED beacon system ensures visibility at four metres from any angle and incorporates a unique blue LED lamp to indicate to bystanders and site supervisors when the operator has the RCI/RCL active.
Factory side and rear cameras integrated into the single 12-inch SMART screen along with an extensive LED lighting kit ensure visibility from the spacious full-size operators cabin during the day or night. Intuitive systems ensure the same pedals and controls used when roading the machine are used when on rail and no compromises are made in terms of operator comfort to accommodate the additional functionality of the rail excavator.
Recently independently certified to AS7502 for use on V/Line assets, the M323F features regionalised customisation by Cat dealer William Adams.
“It is very rewarding to see the culmination of several year’s work behind the scenes to take such an impressive purpose-built Caterpillar product now certified for use on rail here in Victoria. It will certainly complement the Elphinstone Railmax track excavator products and the traditional range of Caterpillar construction equipment we offer today, along with our industry leading product support footprint and capabilities,” concluded Glen Slocombe – product manager, William Adams.