By 1st Lt. Grant Taulbee, 130th Engineer Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment CommandSeptember 10, 2012
8th Theater Sustainment Command, 8th TSC, 130th Eng., Engineer, Grader, Equipment
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS -- New motorized graders arrived last week at 130th Engineer Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, boosting construction capabilities by providing drastically improved performance over the old equipment.
Soldiers and leaders from the "Sappers in" Brigade spent last week getting familiar with all the new aspects of the Caterpillar 120M motorized graders during operator and field level maintenance new equipment training (OPNET and FLMNET).
"You got 30 years difference in technology," said Caterpillar FLMNET instructor John Galvan as he explained the differences from the old Cat 130G graders the 120M is replacing.
All wheel drive improves mobility over more rigorous terrain while Cat's steering compensation system allows for a much tighter turning radius. The hydraulic brakes offer more reliable stopping power and the new engine technology releases far fewer harmful emissions into the environment.
Another major advantage the 120M offers is the electro-hydraulic joystick controls. "It's completely fly by wire," stated Galvan, "a lot of new drivers can pick it up quicker."
The operators agreed. "It's a lot easier [to control] than the 130's" said Spc. Michael Pechtold, a heavy equipment operator from 523rd Engineer Coompany. "The controls are not as jerky, [they are] nice and smooth".
Not only do these controls make it far easier to learn than the 130G, the 120M also provides significantly lower sound and vibration inside the cab. This reduces the fatigue factor allowing operators to comfortably stay on the equipment longer before getting worn out.
"I didn't even want to get out," said Spc. Daniel Martin, heavy equipment operator, 561st Engineer Company, after operating the new grader. "Blue-topping with this thing is going to be a piece of cake!" he added, citing that greatly improved visibility.
The military version of this equipment has several additional benefits over the commercial such as more reliable performance in extreme weather and an armored crew protection kit that can be installed.
"This machine is maintenance friendly too," said Spc. Michael Shamblin, Construction Equipment Repairer, 523rd Engineer Company, 84th Engineer Battalion. "It comes with everything you need to [diagnose] any problems" referring to the extensive diagnostic equipment fielded with the graders. "We'll be better off because we have all the diagnostic equipment", adding that an additional benefit is it will also work on other Cat equipment such as the unit's bucket loaders.
Furthermore, all standard service points such as oil, hydraulic, and electric systems are color coded and located on one side of the engine compartment improving convenience for the mechanics.
"This is the most technologically advanced machine so far that the government is getting from Cat," said Galvan.