Caterpillar dealer WesTrac has announced it will build a technology training facility in Collie, Western Australia, focused on providing courses in autonomous operations.
The centre will be the only Caterpillar Autonomous Training Facility in the world apart from Cat’s own testing and training ground in Arizona, USA. The facility will be developed on land owned by Bluewaters Farm Holdings in Collie’s Coolangatta Industrial Estate.
The project is supported by a grant through the Collie Futures Fund, awarded to WesTrac by the State Government’s Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation.
The announcement was made at a ground-turning event in Collie attended by Western Australia Premier, Mark McGowan; Minister for Regional Development, Alannah MacTiernan; Collie-Preston MLA, Mick Murray; and WesTrac CEO, Jarvas Croome.
Croome said the investment includes a new fully autonomous Cat 789D off-highway truck, construction of an autonomous operations zone and training room facilities. The construction is scheduled to commence this month at the greenfield site near Collie’s Bluewaters Power Station.
Local contractor Piacentini & Son will carry out the earthworks and installation of key infrastructure, with training scheduled to commence in May.
“The initial focus will be to provide training in fit-out and maintenance requirements for the conversion and operation of existing Caterpillar haulage vehicles,” Croome said.
“Over time, we anticipate expanding the range of courses on offer to ensure the facility caters for the recognised skills of the future that will be in demand as the resource sector evolves.
“It’s an opportunity to position Collie and Western Australia as a world leader in advanced technology and skills development in automation and autonomous operations.”
McGowan said: “People will come from all over the world to utilise this facility – the first of its kind in the southern hemisphere and the second worldwide for Caterpillar.”
While WesTrac had evaluated several potential locations, Collie was the ideal centre for the training facility, according to Croome.
“The town has a long mining history and an experienced workforce with the potential to help run and develop the training facility over time,” he said.
“There’s also a vibrant community and plenty of supporting business infrastructure, plus a unique range of natural attractions and easy access to the wider South West region, which adds appeal for Australian and international training participants.”
Croome said WesTrac and Caterpillar clients across the Asia Pacific region had shown significant interest in having access to such training and strong demand was expected when the facility commenced operations.