Modern Mining June 2021
Major autonomous hauling landmark for Caterpillar
Command for hauling trucks now span class sizes from 190 to 360 tonnes.
In a major milestone in its autonomous hauling journey, Caterpillar has surpassed 3-billion tonnes hauled autono- mously by Cat MineStar Command for hauling. The achievement coincides with an expansion of the types of com- modities hauled autonomously across a growing number of Cat mining truck class sizes, as well as other brands of mining equipment. By Munesu Shoko.
W hen Caterpillar talks about autonomous mining, the company typically refers to it as a journey. It’s a journey for Caterpillar as the company develops innovative technologies and autonomy-ready machines. And it’s a journey for mining companies as they adopt and embrace new ways of mining. Michael Murphy, chief engineer in the Surface Mining and Technology organisation, has been on that journey with Caterpillar since the beginning. He has worked for Caterpillar for over 40 years and has been a part of the company’s mining technology group since its inception over 20 years ago. The use of automation in mining has expanded dramatically in the last decade. But the building blocks to get there started being put together long ago. In fact, Caterpillar began its first autonomy pro- gramme over 30 years ago, starting with a research programme in 1985. By the 1990s, the company had two Cat 773 trucks running autonomously in a quarry operation. “Think of what your technology was like then – and what we didn’t have,” Murphy says. “A cell phone was about the size of a brick. We didn’t have an iPhone. We didn’t have an iWatch electronic watch. So thinking about technology in those days, it’s amazing how we actually could get it to work. But we did.”
Major milestone Fast forward to 2021, Caterpillar is reporting an additional 1-billion tonnes of material hauled by autonomous trucks using Cat MineStar Command for hauling, surpassing the 3-billion tonnes mile- stone. Complementing this major achievement is an expansion of the types of commodities hauled autonomously across a growing number of Cat mining truck class sizes, as well as other brands of mining equipment. “Since surpassing the 2-billion tonnes milestone, we have equipped more mines with Command trucks and have established the world’s first gold mining application with Command for hauling,” says Jim Hawkins, director of Cat MineStar Solutions. “Since surpassing 1-billion tonnes, we have expanded our Command fleet by nearly 250%.” Caterpillar has Command autonomous haulage system (AHS) fleets operating across three conti- nents – North America, South America and Australia – at 17 mine locations, operated by nine different cus- tomers. Commodities mined using the Cat Command include iron ore, oil sands, copper, coal and gold. Command for hauling trucks now span class sizes from 190 to 360 tonnes (t). The Cat line of Command models include the Cat 789D, 793D, 793F, 797F and the 297-t 794 AC with electric drive. Command ret- rofit kits are available for Cat mining trucks as well as
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