"The 538 has a reputation as a solid performer with rugged reliability," said Giacomo Bottone, worldwide director for Caterpillar's forestry and medium excavator family. "The Next Generation 538 builds on this foundation by being more productive, more comfortable, and costing less to maintain so owners can spend their time moving more timber, loading more trucks, and maximizing their profit potential."
Available in log loader and general forest configurations, the 538 has a new electrohydraulic control system with 10 percent more swing torque that allows the machine to do work with more power and precision. Updates to the drive system result in a 12 percent increase in travel speed, helping the Cat Next Generation 538 cover more ground and move up and down slopes faster. High Wide undercarriage provides 15 percent greater ground clearance to help the machine pass over stumps and other obstructions with ease.
The 538 features an efficient Cat 7.1 engine that meets U.S. EPA Tier 4 Final and EU Stage V emission standards and is flexible to run on biodiesel up to B20. Smart mode automatically matches engine and hydraulic power to working conditions to help reduce fuel consumption up to 5 percent without sacrificing performance.
The 538 offers a cold-start capability of -25˚F (-32˚C) and reliable high ambient temperature operation reaching 118˚F (48˚C). It efficiently operates at altitudes reaching 9,842 feet (3 000 m) without derating. Fuel tank capacity is more than double the previous model, which means the new 538 can operate up to five shifts before refilling.
Improved comfort and safety
The all-new certified forestry cab design for the Cat Next Generation 538 dramatically improves operator comfort and safety.
"The cab is 25 percent larger with 50 percent greater overall visibility than our previous 538," said Bottone. "Plus, it has a heated seat and a more ergonomically friendly layout, so the operator doesn't have to exert much effort to be efficient and productive."
Ingress/egress is easier due to the cab's wider and taller door and tilt-up console on the operator's seat. The machine's new dual HVAC system keeps operators comfortable regardless of working in the summer heat or during subfreezing ambient winter temperatures. Its specially insulated roof and improved window and door seals keep in-cab noise levels low.
Operators can start the 538's engine with a simple push of a button. The new Operator ID allows each operator to quickly program and store their own machine settings and attachment function preferences. A larger 10-in (254-mm) high-resolution touchscreen monitor delivers intuitive navigation through operating menus and includes a digital version of the operator's manual for quick reference. An available Cat PL161 attachment locator assists in finding work tools within a range of 200 feet (60 m), even when covered by overgrowth or debris.
A larger, 1.25-inch (32-mm) polycarbonate front window improves visibility and operating safety. Smaller cab pillars with the large panoramic windows and recessed right front of the machine contribute to the 50 percent visibility improvement over the previous model. Two different cab risers - 6.5-inch (165-mm) fixed or 48-inch (1 219-mm) hydraulic tilt - are available to help operators better see the jobsite. Video feed from the standard rearview camera is easily visible on the high-resolution monitor to enhance operating safety; an optional sideview camera improves visibility even more.
Lower maintenance costs
Compared to the previous model, the Next Generation 538 lowers maintenance costs by up to 15 percent over the course of 12,000 hours of operation.
"We improved our filters and our service intervals, and we improved ground-level access to service points to make daily maintenance quick and safe, including a new ground-level dipstick for checking the engine oil," said Bottone. "Our new electrohydraulic control system eliminates the need for a pilot filter and pilot oil altogether."
The improved filters and synchronized replacement intervals result in greater uptime and 50 fewer filters being consumed over 12,000 hours. Fuel filters feature a synchronized 1,000-hour change interval, which doubles the service life of the previous model. A new hydraulic oil return filter improves filtration and delivers a 3,000-hour service life, which is 50 percent longer than previous designs.
The high-efficiency, hydraulically driven cooling fan runs only when necessary; reversing intervals are programmable to enable the fan to keep the radiator cores clean without interrupting the work schedule.
Product Link technology captures critical operating data, fault codes, and machine location information to boost fleet management efficiency. The Next Generation 538 has a remote troubleshoot capability when within cell coverage. Remote troubleshoot analyzes real-time machine data captured by Product Link for diagnostics of fault codes without impacting machine productivity, and it can potentially save a service trip to the jobsite. Also, owners can be sure the 538 is operating with the most current version of software with standard Remote Flash (dependent on cell service), which updates machine software around the production schedule.
"Loggers who want more production, greater comfort and safety, and lower maintenance cost will love the Next Generation 538," said Bottone. "When you add in our Cat dealer network that's committed to forestry, you get a winning combination of machine and support that can't be beat for moving timber."
Searching for the best-performing excavator? Your search ends here. We tested the Volvo EC350E and EC380E against a leading competitor in three different tests: trenching, truck loading and lifting capacity at reach. The results show a 20% difference in cost-per-ton, a 15% difference in tons-per-hour and a 12% difference in both operating costs and lifting capacity. See the results and put an end to your search for the best excavator.