Master of their domain

Master of their domain

The world of large wheel loaders is dominated by Caterpillar and Komatsu. Despite their market dominance, when it comes to size, Caterpillar is far from being the king of this category. Following the acquisition of Joy Global in 2017, this title rests firmly with Komatsu Mining Corp. that now incorporates the worlds largest loaders originally designed by LeTourneau Technologies. Unlike most ultra-class trucks found today, the most popular loaders remain mechanically driven.

Below are the four largest machines that you'll likely see on Australian mine sites:

P&H L-2350 Wheel Loader

The mother of all loaders, the Komatsu P&H (nee LeTourneau) L-2350 has a 40.52m³ bucket capacity. With a 272t operating weight, it is the ultimate of ultra-class loaders, capable of loading haul trucks 363t and above. Designed by LeTourneau Technologies, it was introduced in 2000 and fostered a loyal following. Electrically driven, this machine has a 2,300hp engine and dwarfs the WA1200-6 by a whopping 67t in operating weight.

P&H L-1850 Wheel Loader

Sitting between the WA1200-6 and P&H L-2350, the L-1850 has an operating weight of 246t. Second in line to the L-2350, this machine provides up to 24.3ft of dump clearance and is ideal for loading haul trucks with rated payloads of between 236t to 327t. Known to the Valley, this machine by rights is a category killer in itself, is electrically driven and available in standard and high-lift configurations.

Komatsu WA1200-6 Wheel Loader

Once Komatsu's largest loader until they acquired Joy Global in 2017, the popular WA1200-6 is fitted with a standard bucket size of 20m³. Offering a higher capacity fuel-efficient engine and increased dump clearance than its -3 predecessor, this loader is a popular machine and ideally matched with haul trucks up to 320t capacity. Once a significantly larger machine to Cat's 994H, this mechanically driven machine is now relative in stature to Cat's supersized 994K.

Caterpillar 994K Wheel Loader

Cat's 994K is their largest wheel loader to date. Released in 2016, this loader unashamedly had Komatsu's WA1200-6 in their sights undergoing a significant transformation in size from its 994H predecessor. The perfect fit for Cat's 785, 789, 793 and 794 trucks it has an operating weight of 242t and experienced a capacity increase of approximately 18 – 20%. In its high-lift format, this machine is a perfect six pass match with the popular Cat 793F sporting a 38.1t payload and 857mm increase in maximum lifting height.

This article was originally published by the Components Only team in the April 2020 issue of "@ The Coal Face" magazine.

Published 11 April, 2020
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