A custom-built welding tractor — the latest pipeline offering from Caterpillar — was unveiled late last year at the company’s Grenoble Echirolles plant in France.
The company said the new 953D Welding Tractor is targeted for pipeline contractors who are looking for a reliable, durable machine to support welding operations. A product announcement about the machine was made in late December by Pipeline Machinery-Cat (PLM-Cat), Caterpillar’s worldwide pipeline machinery dealership.
The base vehicle is a 953D Track Loader with what the company describes as some key modifications to the front and rear allowing for installation of the welding equipment required for both manual and automatic pipeline welding.
It is equipped with a world-class ROPS cab with heating and air conditioning, an air-suspended seat and visibility that the company says has no match in the industry. All these features are intended to provide the operator with a working station that has the best comfort and ergonomics in the industry.
The tractor is available with a front-mounted crane capable of holding a one-ton welding tent up to 10 meters out from the machine. The tractor’s C6.6 Caterpillar engine not only drives the machine through a well-proven hydrostatic transmission, but also drives the generator.
According to the company, development of the tractor began a few years ago in the U.S. and was completed by Caterpillar’s Grenoble Engineering and Manufacturing departments in 2010. Two field/follow-on operational evaluation units were deployed in 2009 on jobsites in Europe where they accumulated more than 700 work hours.
After some modifications of the initial design, Cat reports customers were very positive on the 953D’s performance. Among comments from operators using the machine were:
- “We are impressed with the weight and stability of the carrier unit – it is a real construction machine.”
- “The Hiab lifting attachment was sufficient to carry any tent we had.”
- “The placement of the components and the space for the welders and storage are a great improvement.”
- “The visibility and cab comfort are exceptional.”
PLM-Cat Senior Vice President Tony Fernandez said, “We are very pleased to add the 953D Welding Tractor to our pipeline offerings for the European market. The conditions met on pipeline right of ways around the world call for some specific solutions. This is another unit we have to offer that provides Caterpillar reliability in a purpose-built machine designed for the pipeline business.”
PLM-Cat was established in 2005 and is the first Caterpillar dealership to focus on a particular industry on a global basis. PLM provides purpose-built and traditional construction equipment to the mainline pipeline construction industry on projects around the world. PLM works closely with pipeline owners, contractors and local Caterpillar dealers to provide solutions tailored to the unique product and service needs of this industry. PLM’s activities are supported through offices in Houston, TX; Edmonton, Alberta; The Hague, Netherlands; Beijing, China; Melbourne, Australia; and Singapore. www.plmcat.com.