Emphasizing what it is now calling its “Articulation Plus” steering system, John Deere Construction & Forestry introduced its 344L compact wheel loader at World of Concrete in Las Vegas this week.
Articulation Plus, first introduced in the company’s K Series, combines an articulated frame with rear-wheel steer, a feature Deere says gives the 344L a host of benefits, including 6 percent more full-turn tip, 15 percent tighter turning radius, improved stability and additional lift capacity. “With this feature, we articulate only 30 degrees, but we also have 10-degree rear-wheel steer,” says Drew Miller, product marketing manager, compact wheel loaders. “It’s mechanically linked between the articulation point.”
Miller further explains Articulation Plus: “We decreased the difference between the straight tip load and the full-turn tip load, so as you’re working, it reduces the chance of getting in an unstable position.” This comes into play when the operator has a full load coming out of the pile and begins to articulate, a point at which some operators might get in trouble. “By reducing the difference between those numbers, we reduce the chance for the operator to get into that unstable position,” he says.
The parallel-lift machine also offers newly designed loader arms and coupler, giving operators increased visibility especially when using forks. The full-turn tip load of 12,650 allows user to lift heavier loads and keep more material in the bucket without making adjustments.
Deere moved the cab HVAC system completely to the outside of the cab, on the left side of the machine. This frees up room in the cab, giving the operator a more spacious environment. “We’ve added a lot of glass to the front of the machine, greatly increasing the visibility,” Miller says. “The glass comes down to the top of your foot.”
In addition, the cab has an air-ride, high-back seat designed to reduce operator fatigue. Both cab doors fully swing out, allowing increased communication with crew members on site.
Auxiliary EH controls are located on top of the primary joystick, with a thumb pad that can be proportionally controlled for operating attachments. Users can also lock it in with a detent switch, handy when using brooms.
A smooth auto-shift system allowed Deere to increase the travel speed for the machine up to 25 mph. “We designed the software for that shifting technology instead of using an off-the-shelf software,” Miller says. “This helps reduce operator fatigue as well as material retention.”
The machine uses a 4.5-liter, 103-net-horsepower Deere engine. The redesigned engine layout and cooling package provide increased airflow for greater cooling, reduces the risk of debris penetration and offers ground-level service access.
The reversing fan helps in airborne debris environments. “We have a unique air flow design that comes in through the front right of the engine compartment, across the engine compartment and out the back,” Miller says
A secondary service door on the left side of the machine enables ground-level servicing of the cooling package. And the repositioned outside-cab HVAC system also allows ground-level air filter servicing.
Deere updated the Z-bar linkage on the machine. ”From ground to full height, we only see a 6-degree rollback, and that full 6 degrees happens about three-quarters of the way up through the lift,” Miller explains. A new cast coupler improves visibility to the forks.
In addition to the standard 2-yard bucket, Deere is offering a 2.6-yard light material bucket, designed to move such materials as mulch.
Rim pull control – which allows operators to adjust the torque of the machine — helps extend tire life.
John Deere continues to make its JDLink telematics package available on smaller machines, and is offering it on the 344L.
“This is a ground-up redesign for this machine,” says Drew Miller, product marketing manager, compact wheel loaders. “The only thing that’s the same from our K Series to our L Series is our tires and wheels.”