Construction Blogs

It’s back!: Caterpillar reintroduces 651 Wheel Tractor Scraper

New self-propelled scraper designs don’t come around very often, so when they do it’s big news, especially for any contractor who does high-volume earthmoving.

If you’re not familiar with what these beasts of the field can do, the new Cat 651, with a push from a dozer, can load 104,000 pounds of material in 30 seconds. That’s as much dirt as a 50-ton truck can handle — and it takes at least two and half minutes to load a truck.

Cat has reintroduced its 651 Wheel Tractor Scraper with a bunch of changes, upgrades and enhancements including a new powertrain, controls, hydraulics and structure. This single-engine model offers 44 cubic yards of heaped capacity and a 52-ton rated load. It also shares the same bowl design and many components as the Cat 657, allowing contractors with mixed fleets to stock fewer repair parts and lower owning costs. It replaces the 651E self-propelled scraper, which Cat discontinued about 15 years ago.

A 629-horsepower Cat C18 engine powers the redesigned 651. When paired with a push assist from a Cat D10 or D11 dozer, and its eight-speed transmission, the 651 can load at speeds up to 34.8 mph even in abrasive or rocky conditions.

The scraper’s new Advanced Productivity Electronic Control System integrates the transmission and engine drivetrain to provide smooth and responsive shifts. The electronic clutch pressure control features advanced shift control logic for smoother speed and directional shifts, while part-throttle shifting controls transmission shifts for smoother shifting between gears. Preventing loss of momentum during shifts, the shift torque management system carries higher torque through shift points.

For operator comfort, the cab on the 651 is as large as that of a twin-engine 657 and 21 percent larger than Cat’s E-series scrapers. Ingress and egress have been improved with the addition of a powered access ladder. Relocation of the HVAC system, steering column and pedal improve visibility. The new comfort seat rotates up to 30 degrees to the right for loading and offers an additional 2 inches of fore/aft movement to reduce operating fatigue. The seat’s adjustable armrest aligns with the implement control level with T-handle design for more comfortable operation. 

To keep your operators sharper longer, a new high-pressure steering system requires less steering effort and reduces fatigue. Improvements to the hydraulics include an electrohydraulic implement system for improved multifunction capability and a short throw for the T-handle implement control. Cat’s advanced ride management system improves smoothness by eliminating end-stroke events of the seat suspension cylinder

An optional three-camera Work Area Vision System (WAVS) shows the cutting edge, right side and rear of the machine on a 7-inch in-cab color monitor. Available sequence assist reduces up to 14 individual operator commands per cycle with a single button for improved cycle consistency, fewer repetitive motions for the operator and less fatigue.

Production efficiency

When it’s cold out, an auto-stall feature, new for the 651, assists in warming up the transmission oil faster so you can get to work sooner. Configured with sequence assist, the new payload estimator option uses bowl lift cylinder pressure to accurately calculate machine payload to within plus or minus 5 percent of scaled weight, optimizing payload and jobsite efficiency. Using the bowl lift cylinder, the reliable payload estimator system requires no recalibration or operator interface.

The scraper’s new ground speed control allows the operator to set the desired top speed, and the machine will find the gear that works best for the engine and transmission. This lowers the engine load factor and fuel burn compared to top gear selection. When operating on a downhill slope, the 651 detects a machine overspeed situation and automatically engages the compression brakes with no operator input. Hydraulic wet disc brakes replace air actuated brakes from the previous model to improve performance and serviceability. 

Cat651 Quick Specs

Engine: Cat C18, 585 hpHeaped capacity: 4 cubic yardsRated load: 104,000 poundsWeight loaded: 249,000 poundsTop speed loaded: 34.8 mph
Did you miss our previous article…

Construction Management

Hy-Brid Lifts Names Jay Sugar President and CEO

Jay Sugar has been named president and CEO of Hy-Brid Lifts, an electric self-propelled and push-around scissor lift manufacturer owned by Custom Equipment.

Sugar brings more than 20 years of industrial manufacturing experience to the role, holding positions of increasing responsibility from shop floor to executive vice president. In his new role, Sugar will lead the overall direction and strategy of the Richfield, Wisconsin-based company.

“We are extremely pleased to welcome Jay Sugar back to Custom Equipment, now in the role of president and CEO,” says Steve Ellis, Custom Equipment chairman of the board. “Jay is an accomplished leader, and with his background in both engineering and operations, Jay brings a wide skillset to drive Custom Equipment forward in value creation and performance.”

“I’m looking forward to working with the strong leadership team at Custom Equipment again to help position the company for future growth,” says Sugar. “Strategically expanding our product offerings and introducing new products will reinforce our commitment to implementing customer feedback and increase market share.”

Did you miss our previous article…

Construction Management

Apprentices Help Build Their Own Training Facility – And Used the Latest Tech to Do It

In 2019, the Southern Nevada Operating Engineers was faced with a problem.

The Las Vegas community had exploded in size around the training facility it moved into in the mid-90s. The once prime location was no longer an ideal spot for heavy equipment training and operation.

It was time to move and rebuild for the future – and who better to do the rebuilding than the students and instructors themselves?

“Some of the apprentices we worked with onsite had never been in equipment before this project,” says Larry Hopkins, SNOE director of training. “They went from zero experience applicants to having the privilege of working alongside several instructors, coordinators and seasoned tradespeople to make this facility come to life.”

The new 28,000-square-foot center sits on nearly 100 acres and features state-of-the-art training rooms, classrooms, a machine shop, welding stations, and grounds to move dirt and simulate projects.

“It was a very proud moment to see it start from bare dirt and rock to what we have now,” says Chris Trolson, SNOE assistant director of training. “It’s fulfilling to see our students go out there and take ownership of this. You could feel the pride because they can see what they accomplished.”

Southern Nevada Operating Engineers JATCStudents assisted with everything from grading the site to paving the parking lot, and they used the latest technology to do it. Under the guidance of operating engineers and instructors, SNOE students used full 3D Trimble Earthworks automatics on an excavator and on a mastless dozer, as well as Trimble Siteworks and WorkManager to facilitate the data.

And for many of the students, the technology was second nature. “Our students just out of high school or their early 20s are much less afraid of the technology than those of us who have been around for 35 or 40 years,” says Hopkins. “They have an advantage growing into this technology. They’re excited about it.”

Education embedded with technology

In addition to the technology used to build the facility, tech is embedded in almost every aspect of the training programs and classrooms.

Twelve 25-square-foot classrooms are equipped with 4K smart boards, cameras and AV for interactive learning and guest speakers. The boards are also a good starting point for familiarizing students with machine displays. “Instead of trying to crowd 10 to 12 kids around a cab, we can show them Trimble emulators on the board,” says Trolson. “You see the a-ha moments once they get into the field. They build off that experience.”

In addition, simulators acquaint students with the equipment before turning them out in the field. “You’ll have 500 bad passes before you get a good pass on a piece of equipment,” says Trolson. “With simulators, we can get rid of a lot of that before we go out in the field. It helps build that confidence so they know they can do it.” The trainers plan to add virtual reality simulators down the road for an even more immersive experience.

Students in the heavy-duty repair program are also engaged in technology from day one. “They have to be familiar with the computer technology that is running the heavy equipment and how to troubleshoot it,” says Hopkins. “I’m not exaggerating when I say there are 200 to 300 different kinds of systems and menus on these different makes and models of equipment. It can be a nightmare. That technological training is wrapped into everything we do.”

Southern Nevada Operating Engineers JATC under construction.
Southern Nevada Operating Engineers JATCBuilding a labor force

Since opening its doors in July, the instructors have already trained several classes of operators and technicians. In an industry desperately seeking workers, the trainers say there is a lot to be optimistic about.

“Work is starting to pick up and my phone has been ringing off the hook,” says Trolson. “We have a lot of applicants we’re going to be putting in the field. Our regular classes are always full.”

“We’re not having issues recruiting,” added Hopkins. “Contractors just need to give us a call, and we’ll provide the people they need.”

The facility routinely has 125-150 apprentices training at any one time, primarily from the four surrounding counties in southern Nevada. The trainers have seen an uptick in women and minorities entering the program in recent years as well.

And as for graduates, the market is good. “Every one of those apprentices who helped with the facility construction has not been out of work since,” says Hopkins. “They went from working on this project straight to contractors and are still going today.”

Once those new recruits hit your jobsite, the education doesn’t stop. Trolson’s best advice for mentoring new employees: patience. “Teach them. Bring them along. You’re investing into the future with this person. You have to put the time and effort into it to get the payback.”

The Southern Nevada Operating Engineers JATC will be used as the new live demonstration and operating site for Trimble Dimensions, held November 7-9, 2022.

Did you miss our previous article…