Truck Builders Support Fleet Optimization Efforts With New Tech
“We know that our mining customers are under tremendous cost pressure,” Sudhanshu Singh, Caterpillar’s product line manager for large mining trucks, recently told E&MJ’s sister magazine Coal Age. “We have been focusing our continuous improvement efforts on existing assets to improve the cost per ton. One major push is to leverage the company’s technology research and development (R&D) to deliver higher value with autonomous mining, data analytics and retrofit kits.”
Cat continues to invest in technology. In March, the company entered into a technology and predictive analytics agreement with Uptake, a Chicago, Illinois, USAbased company that has developed a dynamic analytics and insight platform used in several industries. Cat also purchased a minority interest in the company.
The relationship with Uptake will combine Cat’s product engineering and design expertise with Uptake’s software, application and data analytics expertise. As a result, Cat believes it will be able to transform the huge amount of incoming data it sees into useful information that it can feed back to the mines for on-the-spot decisions and planning purposes to further reduce owning and operating costs. (See “Earthmover OEMs Embrace ‘Big Data’ Analysis Agreements,” pp. 63-64, E&MJ, May 2014.
For mine operators looking to improve existing fleets, Cat now has retrofit kits for some technologies and improvements found on its newer trucks, such as extended brake-life materials, LED light kits and certain safety features, including one for working at height. “The working-at-height retrofit kits allow the miners to install tieoff points on the truck,” Singh said. “These tie-off points have become especially popular with mechanics working on the 400-ton Cat 797s in Canada.”
An improved fuel map feature for haul trucks lets miners use the engine and power train software to determine optimum fuel consumption in a given haul cycle. “We have been able to work with miners to improve fuel consumption by 6% to 12%,” Singh said.
Cat’s New Electric Entry
Not all of its attention has been focused on existing-fleet improvements, however. After its acquisition of Bucyrus in 2011, Cat saw an opportunity to provide an option for customers who were interested in 320-toncapacity trucks. “We still believe that, in many applications, the 250-ton-capacity Cat 793 truck still delivers the best cost per ton, but some customers have asked for a 320-ton option,” Singh said. In 2012, Cat launched the 320-ton Unit Rig MT5300. “We have been testing it since early 2013,” Singh said. “We have demonstrated very competitive cost per ton in studies at two different mine sites.”
Cat will commercially launch the MT5300 in 2016 as the 794 AC. The new Cat nomenclature identifies the truck as sized between the 793 and the 795. “We are launching it in a controlled way at targeted sites as a 320-ton Cat 794 AC mining truck,” Singh said. The new truck is Caterpillar designed and fully integrated in the company’s manufacturing and product support system. It is manufactured in Decatur, Illinois, USA, where all Cat large mining trucks are built. “It has passed through the same quality and testing procedures as the other Cat trucks in Decatur,” Singh said.
In many ways, the 794AC’s design is
similar to that of the 345-ton Cat 795F.
“This gives the customer more confidence
in the power train and engine performance,”
Singh said. “The 795 electric-drive
power train now has more than 2.5 million
hours…Some 795s have achieved more
than 8,000 hours operating time in a single
calendar year. The 794 leverages all of
the positive benefits the 795 has brought
into the Cat network.”