Caterpillar’s new 313F L GC excavator provides low operating costs, high lifecycle value with standard tech (PHOTOS)

Suppose you don’t want all the bells and whistles?

Caterpillar’s newly branded XE line of excavators, as we reported earlier, are loaded to the gills with all the technological wonders the company can fit into one machine.

But for contractors who don’t need smart pumps, hybrid hydraulic systems and smart booms, the company has introduced a GC series of excavators. This two-tier strategy, XE for the high production guys and GC for low-cost-per-hour performance gives customers a wide range of choices.

Emissions made easier

The first of these low-cost-per-hour excavators, the 313F L GC, sports a single load-sensing pump and simple hydraulic system and a 74-horsepower engine. Exhaust emissions are less strict on engines under 75 horsepower, which means this excavator dodges the need for selective catalytic reduction hardware and diesel exhaust fluid.

If you’re concerned about the diesel particulate filter, don’t be. It’s maintenance free.

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The undercarriage on the 313F L GC measures just 8-foot, 6-inches across, that’s narrow enough to roll it up on a tag trailer and haul it off with a dump truck–a common strategy for contractors who don’t use their excavators for full time production. You also get what Cat calls a “generous track-on-the-ground dimension for a stable work platform.”

Translation: you can dig nose up or nose down on slopes and not get tippy.

On the working end, the 15-foot, 3-inch boom can be outfitted with either a 8-foot, 2-inch or 9-foot, 10 inch stick. Maximum dig depth measures 19 feet, 9-inches. Front linkage pins use self-lubricated bearings, eliminating one maintenance chore.

Low tech lowers cost

One of the ways Cat has kept costs down in the 313F L GC is with a pilot manifold in the valve block. This eliminates the need for a pilot pump, filter or lines. Also the fuel system and manual priming pump reduce the need for multiple filters.

The cab sits on viscous mounts to reduce noise and vibration. You sit in a mechanical suspension seat with joystick controls and watch a monitor that can remember up to 10 settings for work tools.

Two tier strategy

Cat’s strategy of designing a premium excavator line (XE) and a less sophisticated machine, (GC ) as separate entities is more logical than to start with a base machine and try to add multiple options to bring it up to a premium level.

For example, on the premium-priced 336F L XE hybrid machine, the ESP pump and the ACS valve are purpose built to boost hydraulic efficiency, which enables them to reduce engine RPM and fuel consumption without reducing power. That’s not anything you can option up to out of the base model.

And offering advanced technology in the GC platform is simply not valued by a certain group of customers, Cat says. Plus, from a marketplace strategy, the GC offerings will also let Cat compete against other low-cost import machines.