CAT’S new 630 S is a shortened version of the successful 630LS that is gaining a reputation for guts and dependability.
The new model shoehorns the C15 550hp engine into a frame that delivers 34-pallet capability on wheelbases from 4800mm down to 4600mm, and significantly reduces the turning circle, enhancing the truck’s attractiveness for inter and intra-city work.
A bonus is the dead-simple emissions control system. No EGR, no SCR, no AdBlue and none of the excessive heat that EGR systems are renowned for. Previously, you could only get 550 CAT horsepower in a wheelbase that was too long for 26-metre-B-double applications. If you needed something shorter, you had to live with the smaller 13-litre engine that wasn’t built for the heavier duty tasks.
This 630 S is a tighter packagethat offers urban appeal
THE 630 S is a tighter package that CAT’s new Managing Director Kevin Dennis now says should have been the first CAT truck released back in 2010.
For my Brisbane to Melbourne drive, CAT had pulled the first production unit off the boat and hitched up a B-double set with around 54-tonne on board for a gross weight of 62-tonnes. The 630S sported a flawless bronze paint job that stood out like a jewel in the dealer’s yard.
Unlike all other US-built trucks I have driven, from the driver’s seat the bonnet surface was ripple-free and edges were finished with a quality at least as good as the best passenger cars.
With just 2000kms on the odometer, the truck was tight as a drum, which meant the transmission needed gentle persuasion. I also have to say that this C15 felt a little restrained, particularly on any kind of hill, where other rigs rumbled past with monotonous regularity. I remembered the longer 630LS I drove a couple of years ago that felt more lively pulling a double road train at around 80-tonne.
There is little doubt that with a few months work the C15 will loosen up a bit, but in reality the standard spec 3.91:1 rear axle ratio worked against the newest CAT in a role it wasn’t really specced for. With the optional 4.1 or 4.3 rear end the truck would have cruised at up to 1650rpm and had much more punch in the lower gears. As usual, the CAT impressed on appalling roads down the inside route to Melbourne via Dubbo. The steering managed camber changes, cross-winds, potholes and ripples, all complicated with driving rain for the first part of the drive.
Heading up Cunningham’s Gap the weight of the load and tall gearing kept the truck in the bottom box, so I got to check out the cab properly. CAT has trimmed the interior with refreshing colours and surfaces. The steering wheel is thick and comfortable, arm rests on the inside of the seats complement the side door sills, and the touch screen is large and clear with most digital services incorporated. It needs a USB port though.
My 1700km run returned an impressive 1.55km/litre, verified by on-board monitoring equipment from Procon, helped no doubt by the tall diff. But true interstaters will trade some fuel for more urgency. Bringing the engine closer to the cab has increased driveline noise. Gen Y drivers will probably complain, but experienced hands will just turn up the country and western.
Australia plays major CAT role
THE engineering development for the new CAT CT630 S has included a major chunk of testing and adaptation in Australia.
Compared to the US scene, the additional heat loadings, high ambient temperatures plus the smaller engine compartment meant raising the cab 50mm to allow a better flow-through of air.
The cab was also moved forward 225mm on the chassis. But what needed testing, verifying and monitoring was the ability of the engine, ancillaries and electrical system to operate cool, clean and reliably with the block moved much closer to the firewall, and the smaller grille compared to the long-nosed 630LS.
The temperature at the firewall near the driver’s feet was of great interest because the cab had moved to within a few centimetres of the C15 turbo and the expected heat transfer needed assessment. Testing revealed that the heat transfer was much the same as the long bonnet CT 630, as the increased airflow under the cab kept the temperature transfer at the same level.
Tied to the new model testing, CAT needed to prove the effectiveness of the radically simple ADR80-03 emissions control set-up.
The monitoring and reporting systems analysed the effectiveness of the soot control in the twin particulate filters, a critical measurement to ensure compliance with the emissions regulations. These tests ran for around 18 months as the trucks were operated on paying routes with established fleets.
Following the emissions testing process, the prototype of the latest S model was also introduced to some fleets to assess the engineering build compatibility and the effects of shortening the engine compartment.
All this data needed some effort in collection and analysis, but most importantly, the data was of best use if it could be gathered in real-time.
The C15 emissions data needed to be physically downloaded at the end of each day. It was a laborious exercise and CAT’s local engineers turned to an Australian distributor for the US-based Procon Telematics for an easier data collection process. Procon is an Australian company owned by Rene Bueman and Dean Langenberg based in Victoria.
“CAT has a number of prototypes with operators all over Australia, so collecting the data manually was a problem”, said René. “Procon developed its software to enable CAT to source the Prototype Canbus data remotely.”
The task sounds simple, but CAT Engineering required second-by-second polling on many of the 130 different Canbus parameters. The usual polling rate is every minute.
Procon hardware and software now sits in all the CAT Engineering prototypes. Rene tracks trailer locations throughout Australia for clients direct to his laptop. The systems allow operators to track and record plant usage 24/7, which enables dramatic improvements in maintenance scheduling.