Product feature: Cat 374F L excavator

The tools in the average forestry roading contractor’s shed don’t come much bigger than Kuru Contracting’s Cat 374F L

While bucket size is an obvious plus-point for Ricky Kuru and his crew, there are plenty of other features on this rugged excavator that make it fit-for-purpose in the forest.

From left to right: Joe McDonald, Jack Kuru, and Rick Kuru with Kuru Contracting’s latest acquisition

When it comes to Cat machine technology and power, the highlights are pretty obvious. Regardless of that, though, Ricky Kuru of Kuru Contracting is quick to point out that the biggest factor in his continued loyalty to the proven brand is the people who look after it here in New Zealand.

"Heath Stewart from Gough Cat has been exceptional. There is a real understanding of the machine and what we need our equipment to do out in the forest there that I don’t think you’d find just anywhere," Ricky says.

"Heath used to be a mechanic, so he really knows Cat gear inside out. That’s important to us when we’re making a big investment decision. He isn’t the sort of salesperson who is just after a quick sale; he has been enthusiastic and knowledgeable all along and he has made buying Cat gear an easier decision."

The Cat line-up 

The latest addition to the Kuru Contracting machine fleet is a mighty 70-tonne Cat 374F L, joining an impressive line-up of existing Cat equipment the company runs. Ricky reckons these days his fleet is "probably about 90%" Cat.

Kuru Contracting’s extensive fleet features several late-model Cat units, including F Series excavators, M and K Series wheel loaders, B Series soil compactors, motor graders, and a Cat D6T dozer among other mobile plant.

Additionally, the company runs no less than six Cat 500 Series forestry machines, starting from the 538 through to the largest 568 model. These are all purpose-built for the industry by Cat and, with the manufacturer having recently confirmed it will continue to build forest machines in-house, Ricky (through Gough Cat) has certainty of parts back-up and technical support for these dependable machines going forward.

Distributor support

With a large machine fleet operating in one of the most remote regions in the country, having a distributor that is easily contactable and quick to react is vital. Ricky says that Gough Cat—through its Gisborne branch—is excellent to deal with on an ongoing basis.

"The technology the service guys have on hand is pretty impressive these days. Some of our machines are pretty isolated but they are all GPS monitored, so the Goughs guys can check in on how any of our machines are performing from their cellphones.

"This is good from an ongoing service point of view and technically, they could ring me and tell me I’ve got an issue with one of the machines before the operator even knows about it. That’s primo back-up service."

Real-time information

On the other side of the coin, the inbuilt Cat Connect technology available in the Cat 374F L means Ricky can also access data from the excavator wirelessly; the ability for him to track location information, operating hours, idle time, and fuel usage is right there in his pocket, too.

Rugged and reliable

Ricky says the Cat 374F L has been on-site only for four months but is already making its mark

Kuru Contracting is based out of Tolaga Bay, about 50km up SH35 from Gisborne along the East Coast. While the company’s core work is centred on forestry construction, Ricky also has a crushing enterprise and business interests in Tolaga Bay itself.

For the most part, though, road-building, hauler landing site construction and stumping work provide Kuru Contracting with its bread-and-butter business. If there is one constant through all these tasks, it’s the nature of the East Coast terrain, which is rugged and generally steep. Weather is often a major factor, too.

The company has been in operation for 21 years, with Ricky purchasing his first Cat machine about 20 years ago. The Cat 374F L is certainly at the bigger end of the machine spectrum, but it’s a particular mix of capacity and grunt Ricky has specified through experience.

"Fifteen or 16 years ago, we hit a spot in our production capacity where I knew that, if we wanted to push that bit extra, we’d need a bigger machine. The maths was pretty obvious really: a bigger bucket means more dirt gets moved, which means we’re more productive day-to-day.

"We were finding the smaller gear wasn’t allowing us to keep up with the logging crew, so there was a constant stop-start to the operation. Working faster is really important to us; we’re on contract, not on an hourly rate, so we want to keep chewing through the work."

With two crews operating, Ricky says Kuru Contracting’s current location on a large forestry block inland from Tokomaru Bay will see them shifting 100,000 tonnes of wood per year across five years in total.

The Cat 374F L has only been on-site (and on the fleet) for four months, but it’s certainly making its mark. Up in the hills where Ricky’s teams are working, the stability the Cat 374F L’s long variable gauge undercarriage provides is crucial.

Off the beaten track, other design aspects of the big Cat are also beneficial for consistent performance, such as the high-tensile strength steel used in the manufacture of track shoes, links, rollers, idlers, and final drives.

The latest addition to the Kuru Contracting machine fleet is a mighty 70-tonne Cat 374F L

There’s also plenty of reinforcing around areas that take on a lot of stress like the boom foot and skirt. The Cat 374F L features box-section structures, which are similarly fabricated as multi-plate assemblies, providing for more hard-wearing peace of mind in the bush.

The Cat 374F L’s track link protects moving parts by keeping water, debris, and dust out and grease sealed in, while under the engine cover a side-by-side cooling system provides for more consistent service in both the extreme hot and cold conditions experienced on the East Coast.

This system is completely separated from the engine compartment to reduce noise and heat and features easy-to-clean cores and a variable-speed fan that reverses to blow out unwanted debris that can accumulate over time.

The steep terrain around these parts affords some good views, but the Cat 374F L operator’s focus remains very much on the machine’s immediate surroundings, thanks to big expanses of glass around the cab. Rear-view and side-view cameras extend visibility right the way around the machine, too.

The Cat excavator’s Halogen lights (fixed to the cab and boom) are programmable to remain on after the machine has been switched off for up to 90 seconds to allow for a safer exit.

"There’s heaps of good stuff in the Cat which makes it a really impressive machine for what we do," Ricky says. "Cat machines are excellent to work with and obviously have a good reputation. But it’s the back-up support that seals it for us. I reckon a lot of people would agree that’s the harder thing to do really well."

Cat 374F L excavator specifications

Operating weight 73270kg
Engine Cat C15 ACERT
Rated output 485hp (362kW)
Fuel tank 935L
Ground clearance 840mm
Cab height 3550mm
Max. digging depth 7220mm
Tail swing radius 4015mm
Max. loading height 7080mm

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