Caterpillar Advances Mining Technology Strategy

Caterpillar is developing technology partnerships to help support evolving technology needs for the mining industry.

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Caterpillar is in its third decade of mining technology development, and the pace continues to quicken as both technology and mining management practices evolve. 

The process of developing and implementing useful and cost-effective technology solutions builds on Caterpillar’s core strengths. For mining equipment automation, Caterpillar relies on proven machines and robust components that are heavily validated individually and as part of the system. Automation programs are focused on outcome-based solutions that leverage available technologies today while driving toward use of developing technologies, methods and processes.

To help support evolving technology needs, Caterpillar is also developing additional technology partnerships. “When we build a solution for our customers, we’re committed to delivering the best possible outcome we can,” says Bill Dears, Caterpillar Mining Technology Product Manager. “We have great products that meet the majority of needs. But if there is a need that we can’t meet, we’ll find a technology that does.” 

Every mine is different and needs the technology solution that works for that operation. As a result, partnering with other technology providers is a critical piece of the strategy to manage velocity, overhead and capacity to create and expand customized solutions.

Caterpillar itself is equipped to deliver global 24/7 support with boots on the ground to get operations rolling and to keep them running efficiently. Ongoing operational support also assists with change management and continuous improvement.

Caterpillar also works with regulators and governing bodies to drive sensible implementation of regulations that allow miners to successfully deploy automated processes.

Technology scaled for the mining operation

Caterpillar describes autonomy as a journey, and individual mines start their journey in different places. Some will begin with a technology product such as Cat Terrain, which uses guidance technology for drilling, grading and loading operations. Others start with Cat Fleet, which serves as an operational ecosystem that provides real-time tracking of machines and material movement.

There are different levels of automation, as well. For example, Caterpillar offers truck-spotting and load-positioning technologies that leverage pieces of Cat Command automation to improve manned operations. In the semi-autonomous realm, remote-control dozing allows operators to take control of machines that perform production dozing autonomously.

“We’re committed to delivering technology solutions that can make a difference for mines of every size and with every type of equipment,” says Craig Watkins, Caterpillar Mining Technology Manager. “There’s something for everyone, no matter where they are on their autonomy journey. We want to help them get started down that path, wherever it makes sense for their operation.” 

The significant benefits of automation can be realized with even the simplest of applications. While full autonomy may be the ultimate goal, individual technologies can be used alone or combined in multiple ways to take advantage of immediate productivity, efficiency and safety gains and serve as the building blocks leading to autonomous mining operations.

The modularity of Cat technology products helps in this effort. The operating system for Fleet is the same for Terrain and the same for Command. The products are also fully scalable. “The technology products work individually, and they grow alongside mines as they follow their own paths to autonomous machine operations,” Watkins concludes.