Caterpillar announces electric nut harvester

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Caterpillar announced plans to further electrify America’s farms by demonstrating a new, first-of-its-kind, 600V battery powered electric field elevator at a nut harvesting operation in California.

The prototype field elevator is being co-developed by Holt of California, a California Cat dealer, and Flory Industries, a manufacturer of nut-harvesting equipment. Holt of California will apply its specific knowledge of Flory’s equipment needs to provide day-to-day engineering, integration, and testing support for the 600V powertrain, which will replace a conventional, 74-horsepower Cat C2.8 diesel.

Caterpillar says this is the first presentation of a prototype machine manufactured by a third-party OEM using Cat’s battery-powered powertrain solution, and the company will use its “expertise in evaluating system requirements; optimizing system architectures; managing system controls development, calibration, and verification; and performing final system validation [sic].”

The Caterpillar-powered machine will use one of the modular battery packs shown as part of Cat’s electric ecosystem at CES earlier this year, as well as Cat’s inverters, motors, electronic controls, digital services.

“Our customers have an intense, compressed timeline for harvesting, and they expect our machinery to work as hard as they do,” says Todd Wille, president/COO of Flory. “We’ve relied on Holt of California and Cat engines to supply superior power performance for more than two decades, which is why we’ve decided to collaborate with them on a system that anticipates the increasing requirements for lower-carbon applications in agriculture without sacrificing productivity.”

The first unit will be ready for field testing by Flory by Q2 of 2024, with pilot units available for additional customers in 2025 and full production expected to begin in 2026.

Electrek’s Take

Companies like Bobcat and Solectrac are working hard to electrify farm tractors, but there’s a ton of farm and ag equipment out there that’s a lot less visible, less sexy, and just as important to decarbonize. This field elevator nut sorter deal is just one example, but if Caterpillar gets its way it will be just the first of many.

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