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7 October 2022



The Cat 305CR Next Generation Digger comes to ASHBROOK Plant Hire

As featured in Earthmovers Magazine- September 2022

The latest addition to the Caterpillar Next Generation range of excavators has recently landed at the home of Congleton-headquartered ASHBROOK.  The 305CR joins models ranging from 1.7 tonnes all the way up to 36 tonnes, all of which make up the huge fleet of modern, fuel-efficient machinery operated by the business.

The fleet at ASHBROOK has grown massively over the past decade with a constant fleet replacement program focussing on adding the latest technology designed to assist operators, reduce maintenance and fuel costs and offer hirers more bang for their buck.

For over a decade the company, headed by James and Mike Ashbrook has been a purchaser of Caterpillar products. “We have built much of our success on the back of the Cat products.” James comments “We have created a great working relationship with our FINNING UK key account manager Neil Baxter and the teams at Cannock and Winsford. When we first started buying Caterpillar kit, we knew there was a price premium for the product, but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. From our initial purchases for a contracting project, we had undertaken to the present day, we have been very pleased with the whole package FINNING UK and Ireland put together for us.”

As this feature is being written ASHBROOK are the only company in the UK to feature Cat next gen models from 1.7t to 36t. Whilst this will undoubtedly change, the team at ASHBROOK are rightly pleased with this achievement.

The 305CR is the latest arrival and will eventually oust the previous incarnation of the machine from the fleet. “We like to keep the machines fresh.” James points out “We monitor our fleet for utilisation constantly and will look at adjusting what we purchase to what customers are wanting.”

Cat 305CR Next Generation Excavator Review

The new 305CR models are the final machines to be re-engineered to the Cat Next Generation concept. Bringing together common features and consistent controls layout to simplify training and operator adaptation.

The engine

Performance on the 305CR excavator has been increased thanks to a new C1.7 engine.

Meeting EU Stage V emission standards, the turbocharged Cat C1.7 Turbo engine delivers higher power, up by 9% over the previous C2.4 engine. Standard auto idle, auto engine shutdown and efficient load-sensing hydraulics with variable displacement pump help to lower fuel burn making the 305CR a far more efficient excavator to operate.

The hydraulics

Along with an engine upgrade, the hydraulic system has been improved to provide higher breakout forces of 49.2kN at the bucket, 28.3kN for the standard stick and 25.2kN on the long stick models.

High main-relief pressures, coupled with flow rates, generate the hydraulic capacity for high digging and lifting forces and more efficient use of a range of attachments. Additional hydraulic services to the dipper are also a standard offering along with quick-disconnect fittings. The auxiliary system provides the choice of one-way, two-way, or continuous flow offering further flexibility for operating a wide variety of attachments.

The compact radius swing reduces overhang when working over the side. Track width is a healthy 1980mm giving the machine a stable working platform but for those working with heavier attachments, an optional heavier counterweight can be specified.


Controls inside the sealed and pressurised cab have been upgraded with the addition of Caterpillar’s industry-exclusive Cat Stick Steer System.  Machine control is simplified by allowing the operator to switch from conventional lever or foot-pedal steering controls to low-effort joystick operation on the left-hand joystick.

The cab

The operator will not want for anything thanks to the high specification inside the cab. Air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity and Cat’s advanced Next Generation touch screen monitor along with a premium seat and plenty of storage space make the cab a more comfortable place to spend a shift. Security includes a keyless push button start with the operator having to enter a numeric code or use the key fob to allow the machine to start. LED lighting completes a very high specification for a machine of this size.

The blade

The ASHBROOK machines have been specified with a standard blade fitted to the undercarriage. There is, however, an option for an angle dozer blade to further increase machine flexibility in backfilling and finish grading projects. The blade controls have also been upgraded with a standard float function for easy clean-up. The angle blade offers 45 degrees of movement left or right of the centre mounting point.

Angle blade movement is controlled by the right-hand joystick, while the left joystick handles machine drive. Standard equipment on the 305CR is a 2.7m boom and 1.35m dipper. A longer, 1.6m dipper is available as an option. Dig depth on the 305CR has also been improved with an additional 140 mm available, taking the maximum dig depth to over 3.6m.

Hard-wearing and impact-resistant panels reduce repair and m costs, ideal for a machine that will inevitably end up on the hire market swapping from operator to operator.

Cat 305 Next Generation Digger Case Study with M&J Evans

Earthmovers visited the first example of this machine to head out on hire with one of the country’s biggest groundworks and civil engineering contractors, M&J Evans.

Working for many of the leading housebuilders, M & J Evans run their own large fleet of equipment sourced from a variety of manufacturers including Caterpillar. The company were in the final throes of completing a large development in Northampton for David Wilson homes and required a machine to fit into the rear gardens of two properties where they needed to add some additional drainage. Entry to the rear of the properties required access up a drive, the rubber-tracked machine accomplished this without damaging any of the finished surfaces before crossing the top soiled gardens to excavate a small area for a new inspection chamber and associated pipework.

With the pipework and chamber fitted and gravelled up, it was a case of backfilling around the chamber and reinstating the path. In operation, the 305CR is extremely quiet thanks to some excellent soundproofing within the engine bay. Operator Adrian was very pleased with the new machine saying it was a very comfortable, responsive, and quick machine to operate.

Find out more about hiring a Cat 305CR Next Generation Excavator.

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