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What’s New in Utility Construction Equipment in 2023?

When digging trenches, lifting materials or drilling in tight spaces, how can utility crews get more work done in less time at a lower operational cost and with a smaller carbon footprint?

Those are the primary factors heavy-equipment manufacturers consider as they design and develop new utility construction equipment.

What new products have emerged this year to help utility companies and contractors cut time, costs and emissions? Here are eight new developments to keep your eye on.

What’s New: Redesigned 926, 930 and 938 wheel loaders

Caterpillar has released its latest Cat 926, 930 and 938 wheel loaders. The machines offer an adaptive engine RPM, four powertrain modes and auto wheel torque control for improved durability.

The loaders include a real-time payload system and a bucket shake feature to enhance precision. And the new machines provide improved operator comfort with revamped cabs offering better visibility, automatic temperature control and a new joystick steering system.

Volvo CE
What’s New: First North American pilot program for the EC230 Electric excavator

Volvo Construction Equipment and WM (formerly Waste Management) are partnering to pilot the 23-ton Volvo EC230 Electric excavator, set for commercial launch in North America in 2024.

The pilot will be carried out at a WM East Coast facility, where the electric excavator will undertake the typical duties of diesel machines in waste applications. The project aligns with WM’s commitment to reducing emissions by 42% by 2032.

“This is the first pilot in North America, but the EC230 Electric excavator has been thoroughly tested by customers overseas, and in each case, it has offered the same performance as its diesel equivalent with the added benefit of no direct emissions,” said Stephen Roy, president of Region North America for Volvo CE.

The EC230 Electric excavator, part of a six-machine electric lineup from Volvo CE, made its North American debut at CONEXPO-CON/AGG earlier this year.

What’s New: TL100 mini track loader

CASE Construction Equipment has entered the growing mini track loader (MTL) market with its TL100, scheduled for release in late 2023.

The machine offers a 1,000-pound operating capacity, hydraulic pilot controls and a robust standard auxiliary hydraulic setup. And it’s compatible with a wider range of attachments to ensure your crews have the right tool for the job.

The TL100 includes a five-year subscription to CASE’s SiteWatch telematics. It also features a Common Industry Interface, ensuring compatibility with most major MTL attachment manufacturers.

What’s New: GPS-enabled Verifier G3+ utility locator

Vermeer has introduced the GPS-enabled Verifier G3+ utility locator. The device offers optimized connectivity, easy-to-use controls and the ability to pair with smartphones through the G3+ Map mobile app. The app facilitates real-time mapping of utility data, such as location, depth and operator details, which contractors and utility owners can use for better project tracking and customer service.

The locator can distinguish individual utilities, detect ambient noise and enable frequency adjustments from up to 500 feet away via a wireless connection. Data captured is transferred via Bluetooth 5.0 to the G3+ Map app and can be incorporated into the Vermeer Projects bore planning tool for further use.

Ditch Witch
What’s New: AT120 directional drill

Ditch Witch has unveiled the AT120, its most advanced all-terrain directional drill, to increase productivity in challenging underground conditions for fiber, pipeline and utility installations through hard rock.

The AT120 delivers a 50% performance boost compared to its predecessor, the AT100. And it includes a 20-foot end-to-end drill pipe and a Virtually Assisted Makeup and Breakout system, automating drill pipe adjustments during operations.

What’s New: CL36EV electrified compact wheel loader

CASE Construction Equipment introduced the CL36EV, an electrified compact wheel loader, at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2023.

The CL36EV is a 3.6-metric-ton machine with a hinge pin height of over 10 feet. The company said it would release additional product information and commercial availability at CASE dealers in North America at a later date.

“A loader of this footprint, especially one used in yard applications where it stays there and has regular access to primary power, is the perfect application for electrification,” said Andrew Dargatz, product manager at CASE. “The CL36EV delivers the same power and performance as comparably sized diesel-powered loaders and can be matched with a full range of attachments for additional versatility.”

Elliott Equipment
What’s New: M87 material handling aerial work platform

Elliott Equipment Co. has launched the M87 Material Handling Aerial Work Platform, a new offering designed to enhance operational efficiency in the construction, maintenance and utility sectors. The M87 offers an 87-foot working height and a 77-foot side reach, with the main boom winch able to lift 2,000 pounds. An additional platform jib winch has a 500-pound capacity.

The M87 can be mounted on a non-CDL chassis, simplifying the process for operators and offering savings in fuel and maintenance costs. Further, its hydraulically self-leveling platform and 180-degree rotation capability facilitate an efficient and safer working posture.

Ditch Witch
What’s New: PT37 ride-on plow/trencher

The PT37 primarily serves as a plow but comes with additional options – such as a trencher, a reel carrier and a hydra-bore configuration – making it adaptable to various work site requirements. It features a side-facing seat that adjusts to give operators an unhindered view of the machine’s tires and plow box.

Ditch Witch’s PT37 can be reduced to 36 inches in width, granting access through standard gates and into tight workspaces. And the machine offers a foldable design, enabling it to be kept on a trailer and conveniently stowed in garages. Maintenance is minimal due to an efficient exhaust cleaning system and fewer grease points.


Sean M. Lyden

Sean M. Lyden is the editor of Utility Fleet Professional magazine.