Cover story: Cat 306 CR

The Cat next-generation mini excavator range has made a big impact in the local building and construction scene

Terra Industrial has just delivered the first examples of the latest addition to the line-up: the tough but compact 6.5-tonne Cat 306 CR.

Having progressively rolled out Cat’s new next-generation line-up of mini excavator models to keen customers over the past 18 months, New Zealand Cat distributor, Terra Industrial, is eagerly awaiting the final components of the new-look machine range with the arrival this month of the new next-generation Cat 306 CR.

The Cat 306 CR represents an efficient midway point in the Cat micro and mini excavator range

Terra Industrial BCP industry sales manager, James Lundy, says that the next-generation range has been a fantastic success in New Zealand. "The one-to-two-tonne micro range has delivered an impressive array of ‘big machine’ features to a broad array of clients up and down the country.

"The micro series was a fantastic way to launch our vastly upgraded range, and with the 6-to-10-tonne models now complete with the arrival of the Cat 306 CR, we’ve linked the two series’ together in a very effective way. Combined, we now have a comprehensive line-up of machines that will suit a variety of disciplines."

The Cat 306 CR represents a rather unique machine proposition on the local landscape. It offers up the same horsepower from its efficient Cat C2.4 turbodiesel engine as the larger Cat 307.5 CR, but still weighs in at over 500kg less. It also boasts a deeper maximum dig depth than its eight-tonne sibling due to its swing boom and long stick offering.

"I think some people assume the Cat 306 CR is a replacement for the Cat 305.5, but actually that isn’t the case," continues James.

"This machine effectively sits in the 6.5-tonne to seven-tonne class and no one else is manufacturing a machine that sits close to that seven-tonne bracket with these sorts of dimensions and available power.

So, you essentially have the capabilities of a seven- to eight-tonne excavator, but with its 1980mm width, our customers can still get the Cat 306 CR comfortably into a truck for transportation."

James says that the Cat 306 CR has 65% more lift capacity when compared to a Cat 305.5, as well as 25% more slew torque and 20% better overall fuel efficiency.

The next-generation Cat excavators take things to the next level with plenty of comfort and convenience specification too. Inside the sealed and pressurised cab, the Cat 306 CR boasts a host of features designed to make the operator’s day on the job more comfortable and safer too.

Like its fellow next-generation mini excavator models, the Cat 306 CR boasts plenty of ‘big machine’ features within a compact footprint

As with other machines in the refreshed range, the Cat 306 CR arrives with a Bluetooth key with a push-to-start button, taking this excavator into a space normally associated with the automotive sector. Each machine comes with a uniquely paired Bluetooth integrated key that signal their proximity to the machine and allow it to start. In circumstances where the key is missing, it can still be started by entering a passcode into the monitor.

Other standard features include a new full-colour LCD display screen that is easy to read, even in bright sunlight, as well as adjustable hydraulics and operator modes that enable the operator to utilise improved speed, accuracy and responsiveness depending upon the terrain and the task at hand.

The Cat 306 CR also features Stick Steer Travel Mode, allowing the operator to switch from a traditional travel control combination of lever and pedals to joystick control with the push of a button.

Despite offering robust power from its 43.2kW turbodiesel engine, the ability to save on fuel is much easier with the new next-generation machines too: a mix of auto idle and auto engine shutdown software and efficient hydraulics with a variable displacement pump all work together to improve the bottom line for owners.

The new next-generation Cat excavators might be loaded with clever new technologies and ease-of-use features, but in one aspect the manufacturer has made a concerted effort to go back to basics with these new machines. "The modern Cat excavators have eliminated a lot of curves in the body work. Overall, the designers have reverted to a squarer body style with more flat panels," says James.

"I’ll admit I’ve heard a few guys say they like this ‘old school’ look, but there’s actually a practical reason for it. In eliminating a lot of the curved angles and leading edges on the body panels, we’ve made it much easier to affect repairs to work site dings, which are a lot more time consuming to fix on a curved edge.

"Also, Caterpillar has put a lot of effort into ensuring the next-generation machines are built with as many like-for-like parts as is feasible. This means that for a distributor like us, we can ensure our customers can have replacement part servicing completed much quicker, as we’re better placed to provide a part immediately, regardless of the specific tonnage of the excavator that needs it."

Building on the idea of manufacturing and servicing efficiencies further, the use of more interchangeable parts in the Cat mini excavator line-up helps lower their total cost of ownership by 15%.

"We have units starting to arrive in New Zealand now, which is great to see," says James.

The use of more interchangeable parts in the Cat mini excavator range helps lower total cost of owndership by up to 15%

"Long-time Cat customer, Berkett Earthmovers 2012 Ltd in Napier recently took delivery of the first Cat 306 CR to reach New Zealand, while Storms Contracting on the Coromandel Peninsula is another customer utilising this significantly upgraded machine. The Cat 306 CR sits in such a great sweet spot within the wider next-generation Cat excavator line-up; we’re sure it will appeal to a lot of customers.

"As always, we remain keen to show business owners of all sizes how these machines, despite their compact dimensions, can make a big difference in the New Zealand building and construction industry."

CAT 306 CR basic specs (standard arm)

Min operating
weight with canopy

6411 kg

Min operating weight with cab

6485 kg

Engine net power@2200rpm

41.7 kW (55.9 hp)

Travel speed low/high

2.8-5.0 km/h

Pump flow@2400rpm

173 L/min

Digging force (standard arm)

29.5 kN

Digging force (bucket)

51.5 kN

Max dig depth

3710 mm

Max reach at ground level

6130 mm

Max dump clearance

4325 mm

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