Caterpillar showcases iron — and beyond — at MINExpo 2016
MINExpo 2016, billed as a “world of innovation in one place,” is a once-every-four-years opportunity for miners to find solutions to their biggest challenges — from increasing productivity to controlling costs, keeping workers safe to taking advantage of “big data.”
In its MINExpo booth, Caterpillar focused on all of the above — and then some — introducing new technologies and equipment, unveiling machine enhancements and demonstrating the ways the manufacturer goes beyond the iron to help customers optimize operations and drive down costs.
“We believe that through our expertise and the knowledge of our dealers — combined with innovative technologies and our growing data analysis capabilities — we can help them not only survive, but thrive in these challenging times.” says Caterpillar Resource Industries Group President Denise Johnson, who was chairman of MINExpo 2016.
Caterpillar’s 4831-square-meter (52,000-square-foot) exhibit featured surface and underground mining equipment and displays, including autonomous offerings for trucks, dozers, drills and underground loaders.
Surface mining displays
The above-ground section of the Caterpillar exhibit showcased the company’s end-to-end products for products for surface mining: drills, loaders and haulers.
The new Cat MD6420C Rotary Drill drew a large crowd eager to climb on the drill and talk to SMEs about its features. The third-generation drill incorporates proven Cat components throughout and is equipped for optional Cat MineStar™ technologies — like Cat Terrain, a high-precision drill management system that improves drilling and blasting operations by accurately guiding the operator and improving precision of hole placement and drilling depth. The drill is also ready for fully autonomous operation with Command for drilling.
Another main draw on the show floor was the 794 AC Truck, which made its first mining show appearance. The 291-tonne (320-ton) capacity truck features the same electric drive power train as the proven Cat 795F AC. The truck boasts superior retarding and stopping — up to 40 percent better than competitive models — as well as class-leading speed on grade. Visitors were also able to see the serviceability enhancements, such as engine walkways and easily accessible service platforms.
“The 794 is all Caterpillar electric drive systems,” said John Ingle, Caterpillar mining trucks performance manager. “Engine, drivetrain, software control, everything. That means that we can have better efficiency. We bring in things like Cat oil-cooled disc brakes to all four corners. We bring all those innovations into one product that we support. The other things that people tell us about this truck is it’s got great performance with payload, grade and open and great serviceability.”
Just across from the 794 was the Cat 6020B Hydraulic Mining Shovel, representing the company’s versatility class of shovels. This next-generation shovel is a clean-sheet design that features a 22-tonne (24-ton) payload and 224-tonne (247-ton) operating weight. It claims a 30 percent fuel efficiency advantage and offers a walk-through and exchangeable power module for easy maintenance.
The 6020 teams with the Cat 777G Off-Highway Truck for optimized loading and hauling. Also displayed on the MINExpo show floor, the 777 is billed as the most efficient 90-tonne (100-ton) mechanical truck in the industry. The 777 offers several key features that help lower fuel usage by 7 percent. The truck has increased torque, new transmission controls and can travel at higher speeds to improve productivity.
Caterpillar’s line of electric rope shovels was represented at MINExpo by the company’s patented LatchFree™ Dipper as well as an Immersive Simulators display that gave visitors an opportunity to virtually operate a Cat 7495. The dipper system is billed as the first successful solution to the most common cause of rope shovel downtime: unplanned maintenance. The system replaces the maintenance-intense latch assembly with a strong steel link assembly mounted to the dipper back. The key to the design is the geometry of the locking mechanism, which makes it possible to locate the components away from the harsh flow of material.
One of Caterpillar’s most popular surface mining machines, the D10T2 Dozer, was also on display. Designed to move large volumes of material, Cat dozers have high weight-to-horsepower ratios to push large loads. The D10T2 offers more horsepower in reverse to keep the reverse portion of the dozing cycle as short as possible and achieve more cycles per hour. The dozer claims a productivity advantage up to 8 percent in downhill dozing applications, and features a new Duralink undercarriage option that can increase life up to 40 percent.
Completing the surface mining display were Caterpillar’s largest wheel loader — the 994K, the recently introduced 18M3 Motor Grader, and two engines: the C175 and 3516E.
The 994K is larger than the previous model, increasing payload up to 30 percent. The exhibit promoted its productivity enhancements, including a more powerful and efficient engine, comfortable and quiet cab, and improved visibility.
The 18M3 builds on the smaller Cat 16M to offer additional power, a wider moldboard and the possibility to use a more aggressive blade angle, making it an ideal fit for mining operations that run 172-tonne (190-ton) or smaller trucks.
The engine area of the MINExpo exhibit highlighted Cat engine and aftermarket offerings. On display were a Reman C175-16 diesel engine and a 3516E diesel engine. Both provide a Tier 4 mining truck solution with Selective Catalytic Reduction, a proven emission system with over 15 million hours in production.
Underground mining displays
The underground section of the Caterpillar exhibit was designed to demonstrate the company’s commitment to underground mining through a presentation of machines and technology for hard rock and soft rock mining.
The hard rock cutting display featured a revolutionary new underground mining approach, longwall for hard rock mining. The Cat Rock Straight System is a fully mechanized longwall system designed for continuous mining of flat and tabular deposits and reefs in hard rock mines.
“The industry has been looking for ways to apply continuous mining technology rather than bench type drilling and blasting for quite a while,” said Jens Steinberg, product introduction manager for the new Rock Straight System. “Really the key to that is cutting technology that allows the customer to cut the hard rock efficiently and effectively with the machine and then apply the complete continuous mining system around that. So that comes, then, with a conveyor, with a roof support system, as an entire system for continuous mining.”
The key to the Rock Straight System is the cutting machine, which makes use of unique Cat Activated Undercutting Technology specifically developed for the extraction of bedded hard rock deposits. Rock Straight also includes a specially designed chain conveyor and hydraulic roof supports.
For coal and other soft rock miners, Caterpillar displayed a new drive system for longwall face conveyors that has a smaller footprint and enables slower motor speeds while delivering more torque. At the same time, the system modulates power application to reduce mechanical stresses on the chain conveyor. The result is less wear, greater uptime and higher productivity.
The new drive system consists of two main components — a variable frequency converter and the motor-gearbox combination. In the new Cat system, a medium voltage converter-controlled torque motor replaces the AC induction motor. The control principle of the drive is Direct Torque Control — the most advanced AC-drive control technology available. Caterpillar will be able to configure the High Torque Drive System for retrofitting to existing longwall face conveyors. Plans call for supplying a range of systems to handle voltages of 3.3 kV or 4.16 kV in a mechanical power range of 300 kW to 1600 kW (400 hp to 2,100 hp). Systems for additional applications, such as longwall plow systems and beam stage loaders, will follow.
The underground display also introduced the R1700K underground loader (LHD). The new model features multiple systems enhancements, a new cab with enhanced ergonomics, and emissions reduction technology. Complementing the R1700K were new ground engaging tools for LHDs and a simulator demonstrating Command for underground, the Cat system for remote and semi-autonomous operation of LHDs.
For underground loaders, Caterpillar displayed its current model and popular workhouse — the AD30, which is pass-matched to the R1600H Loader. While not displayed on the show floor, the company also introduced a new, smaller size underground truck: the AD22. The AD22 features a C11 ACERT™ engine; wide, easy-loading body style; and open or enclosed cab options.
Cat MineStar™ Technologies
Along with equipment, Caterpillar also dedicated exhibit space to Cat MineStar, the company’s suite of technology offerings for mining. Capabilities range from machine health monitoring and data management to fully autonomous control — all designed to drive efficiency up and cost-per-ton down.
Several of the newest technology announcements center around safety. For example, the new Proximity Awareness System, a part of Cat Detect, is a collision avoidance system that uses the latest peer-to-peer communications leveraged by the automotive industry. The system quickly delivers communications between vehicles and presents collision avoidance information to operators without the need for a robust radio network covering the site. The onboard hardware can be fitted to light vehicles and to any brand of surface mining equipment. It also features alarm tones that operators can easily distinguish from alerts delivered by other systems.
Caterpillar also showcased its expanded Object Detection System, also part of Cat Detect. Object Detection is now available for additional Cat machines and virtually all brands of mobile surface mining equipment. The combination of cameras, radars and in-cab displays deliver increased site awareness to mobile equipment operators.
Safety is also a key component of the Cat Command capability, which covers all aspects of autonomous operation. “Anything that deals with automation or autonomy falls under our Command umbrella,” explained subject matter expert Jag Samaraweera. “Whether it’s remote control, teleremote, semi-autonomous or a fully autonomous system. All of our customers are trying to produce more with less and actually enhance safety at the same time. (With Command) we’ve moved over 300 metric tons in 3 1/2 years with zero lost time injuries. I can tell you for a fact that (an autonomous operation) is safer than a manned operation.”
While Command can be used to run a completely autonomous operation, Samaraweera explained that all mine sites can benefit from automation. “Automation is a journey. And as we expand and integrate our Command technologies, we’re trying to take some of those successes and bring them into manned operations. So in the next couple of months you’ll see us bringing out our truck-spotting program. This is where a loader operator can set a virtual spot point where an operator in a cab can see it and reverse without the loader operator holding the bucket. And also our load-positioning program, where we’re actually helping the loader operator better position their material in the bed of a truck.”
Enhancements to Cat Terrain also were introduced at MINExpo. Terrain combines GNSS guidance technologies with integrated office software that enables remote monitoring and fact-based decision-making. Miners use Terrain to optimize efficiency, enhance safety and reduce cost per ton. All Terrain products — for grading, drilling and loading — have been upgraded to optimize mining productivity and lower overall operating costs. Terrain also now offers a fully integrated Proximity Awareness feature that alerts the operator when a machine either approaches an avoidance zone or is approached by another unit that has breached specified boundaries.
Going beyond the iron
Though Cat machines and technologies — for both surface and underground mining — filled the view, the messaging and programming on the show floor demonstrated the theme “Our partnership goes beyond the iron.”
The knowledge and support provided by Caterpillar and its global dealer network took center stage in dozens of videos featuring customers from around the world. A second stage focused on Cat technology and how miners can combine those offerings with Caterpillar know-how to address and solve the issues that are most important to them.
Space was also dedicated to the equipment management lifecycle, including messaging and SMEs on hand to discuss genuine Cat parts as well as repair, retrofit and rebuild options that help miners get the greatest value from their investment in Cat machines.
“We want customers to remember that we’re able to provide that end-to-end solution from prior to the machine purchase all the way through to the end of life for the equipment,” said Cameron McGovern, a Caterpillar product support site performance manager. “So when we are partnering with our customer through our deals, we talk about understanding the application, what sort of operational requirements are needed so that we can make the right selection of machines, make sure we are able to implement the right solutions — and they can be anything from how we manage the fleet and then all the way through our lifecycle of the machine through overhauls and rebuilds — so we’re able to get to that ultimate goal of the lowest cost per ton.”
Another discussion area centered on data, answering the question, “You have data, now what do you do with it?” Animations on high-tech transparent LED screens guided a discussion in which Caterpillar subject matter experts (SMEs) explained how the company takes data and combines it with knowledge to help mining companies optimize their mine sites.
“At our core, we’re committed to making quality products that are safe and reliable,” said Caterpillar’s Denise Johnson. “But we also recognize that the step-change results our customers need don’t rely solely on the machines. In the ‘age of smart iron’ it’s technology, data and automation that will be the game-changer. And when we combine this with a focus on site performance, analytics and knowledge-partnering with our customers, we’ll deliver the sustainable efficiencies our customers need today, and in the future.”
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