Caterpillar and the next generation of productive hauling

Caterpillar says it is leading the way in the next generation of productive hauling through game-changing efficiency advancements with the Next Generation of Cat(R) Mining Trucks. The 785 large mining truck was Caterpillar's first entry into the mining industry more than three decades ago and, the company says, has been a top performer on sites around the world ever since. It is fitting, therefore, that it is the first of a new generation.

Designed by operators, for operators

"Where does the next generation of productive haulage begin?

It all starts with operators, who work in an environment designed for them by other operators," Cat says. Truck operators provided input, worked alongside Cat's large mining truck design team and shared feedback to help create a state-of-the-art environment on board the 785 designed for efficiency and ergonomics, and equipped with features that increase comfort, automate functions and boost confidence, from the smallest operator to largest operator around the globe, the company said. The next generation operator experience is safer, more consistent, more predictable and more intuitive, shortening the learning curve and boosting productivity of less experienced operators, according to the company.

The new speed coaching feature gives operators real-time feedback on how to operate the truck to maximise its productivity, Cat told IM. In field trials, the new AutoHoist controls, meanwhile, have shown reductions of up to 12 seconds in the dumping cycle. "This feature can also reduce fuel burn during this portion of the haul cycle," the company said. Features such as Hill Start Assist, Anti Roll Back, Enhanced Traction Control, Dynamic Stability Control, Anti-lock Brake System, Machine Speed Limiting and Cruise Control improve machine responsiveness and controllability, while improving cycle times and reducing operator fatigue, the company added.

Serviceability and reliability

In addition to enhancing the operator experience and efficiency, the next generation truck platform delivers significant improvements in serviceability and reliability, according to Cat.

"We've worked to reduce key contributors to downtime with features like the new modular HVAC (heating, ventilation and air condition) system, which improves reliability and consolidates components so the entire system can be removed and replaced quickly," Cat said. Field studies have shown this modular element alone can improve physical availability by up to 0.5%. New "Remote Flash" and Remote Troubleshooting capabilities reduce downtime and maximise machine availability, according to Cat, providing the ability to troubleshoot the machine remotely or update the software of an electronic control module on an engine or machine through cellular service.

"A manager in the back office can securely push machine software updates over the air to the truck," Cat explained. "This feature reduces machine downtime and technician time, allows updates to be performed when most convenient, and keeps the machine up to date with the most recent software."

Connectivity and technology integration

Mine sites have access to real-time information and analytics that improve their total cost of ownership, the company claims, with these next gen pre-production machines "quantifying the full value of new features" at multiple customer sites right now ahead of the start of manufacturing in the March quarter of 2021, Cat says. Cat says it will be easier to integrate Caterpillar and certain third-party current and future technology solutions on the next generation platform, with offerings such as Cat MineStar(TM) - which includes fully autonomous haulage with Command - able to deliver a step change in productivity, efficiency and safety. This integration can provide valuable data and analytics to enable near real-time decision making, maintenance troubleshooting, and the ability to predict and proactively prevent failures, according to the company.

Included on the truck is an improved payload monitoring system that comes with more accurate measurements, improved monitoring and an improved interface, according to Cat. "Information is more accurate and the system provides access to more data," the company said of this system. "The new system also provides accurate dipper counts, reduces false loading triggers and overload detection, while carryback calculations are more accurate." The system also provides detailed haul cycle segmentation and remote access through telematics, Cat added.

The backbone of advanced connectivity on the Next Gen truck platform is the ability to communicate through dual mode cellular 4G/LTE and Satellite, or local Wi-Fi networks - "whatever benefits the mine plan", Cat says. "Next generation connectivity delivers faster data transfers, better access to data, consistent and reliable data communication, more insightful and actionable data, improved data analytics and new diagnostic capabilities," the company explained. "The NextGen telematics systems can collect and transmit information securely into locally-hosted or cloud-hosted applications, such as Cat MineStar Fleet, MineStar Edge, and Health Equipment Insights.

These applications boost productivity and improve maintenance and machine life."

Built on a solid foundation

With nominal rated payload of 138 t or higher with optional larger tyres, the 785 has delivered lowest cost per tonne in a wide range of mining applications ranging from flat hauls to deep pits, and solid roadways to challenging underfoot conditions, the company said. Its 3512E engine offers selectable power options so miners can either match the speed of their current fleet or speed up their cycle times, according to the company. The optional Tier 4 engine has shown a reduction in fuel usage by as much as 9%, while advanced electronic transmission controls deliver faster cycle times, faster acceleration, less spillage and reduced haul road maintenance, on top of improved engine and powertrain life.

Longer-life components, extended service intervals and easier maintenance contribute to higher mechanical availability.

"The individual features, components, software and systems that make up the Next Generation 785 have one very important thing in common: they are all manufactured by Caterpillar and supported by the Cat dealer network.

"This integration ensures that the entire truck, from tyres to transmissions, engines to electronics, can be fully optimised to deliver the lowest cost per tonne in any manned or autonomous site applications in the world."

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