Getting smarter underground
An interview with Robert Droogleever, General Manager Underground Mining, Caterpillar and Randy Schoepke, Commercial Manager for Underground Technology, Caterpillar
Underground miners and mines are getting smarter all the time, with digitalisation, automation and electrification all being applied now at a rapid pace. Caterpillar Global Mining put together a strategy, based on canvassing its underground customers, to allow it to best serve them as part of this industry transformation. This includes not only in-house R&D but also keeping current with the latest technologies and if necessary partnering with the right external technology providers to offer what the industry demands.
From a fleet management and safety technology perspective industry evolution has also been rapid, and Caterpillar is ensuring that its solutions are OEM agnostic, so solutions can be applied to new machines, as a retrofit or to other OEM machines. Offering systems that are interoperable is also an important part of this.
In electrification, Cat has this year announced the R1700 XE battery electric LHD, the first in its new line of all electric machines to help mines reduce ventilation infrastructure requirements and costs; generate less heat and dust and overall, lower the overall operating costs of the mine.
In coal mining, longwall operations are in many ways more automated today than mobile hard rock mining. But there is still work to be done and the end goal is the same, take more people out of harms way but continue to up productivity. Caterpillar continues to invest heavily in coal and soft rock mining to ensure its solutions are ahead of the game.