Tag Archives: dozing

Thiess hits new heights with SATS dozer technology at Lake Vermont

Thiess says it has safely expanded its Cat MineStar™ Command for Dozing program at the Lake Vermont coal operation in Queensland, Australia, owned by Jellinbah Group.

A total of six Caterpillar D11 dozers fitted with Semi-autonomous Tractor System (SATS) technology have been mobilised at the project, currently making it the largest deployment of the technology globally, the contractor claims.

The SATS solution enables one operator to remotely control up to four dozers from an office environment. Lake Vermont is currently running six SATS dozers from two side-by-side remote operator stations.

Beginning the pilot in early 2020, the team has moved more than 1.9 million bank cubic metres and recorded zero autonomy-related injuries.

Thiess Autonomous Services Manager, Trent Smith, has seen significant productivity improvements with the technology enabling his team to deliver more consistent dozing.

“We’ve seen our utilisations go up about 25%,” he said. “We’re simply running 22 to 23 hours per day in autonomous mode.

“Another advantage is its ability to remove wastage within a dozer process – the machine simply won’t stop. It follows exactly the design that you’ve given it and it never waivers from that plan.”

The technology has also proven safety benefits for dozer operators by removing them from a high-risk working environment.

“Our operators control the machines from our office on-site, reducing the risk of injury from mounting and dismounting equipment and from ergonomic challenges presented during ripping applications,” Smith said.

Working collaboratively with Thiess’ in-house technical support teams has enabled the project team to solve use and skill challenges rapidly, the company said.

“The crew that started initially really struggled with the system because it was such a big change from their role and operating out in the field,” Smith said. “We spent a lot of time investing in our people with the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) to try and lift their skill and knowledge of the system and we’ve seen them grow into highly capable operators.

“They started out initially running two dozers and now they are quite comfortable operating four at a time.”

Thiess partnered with Caterpillar and Hastings Deering to implement and optimise the technology at the project, with Hastings Deering Product Manager, Simon Zillman, recognising Thiess’ focus on the integration of people and process when applying advanced technology.

To take advantage of the autonomation benefits, Thiess altered a portion of its production schedule so SATS dozers could continue working in the overburden, taking advantage of the consistent and optimised operation.

“Thiess has been excellent to work with,” Zillman said. “The team is very dynamic and right across the board everyone is proactive to make it work.

“Our relationship with Thiess is collaborative at all levels, from the mechanics who are fixing the machines in the field right through to the senior management.”

The Lake Vermont operation is also using Command for Dozing to reduce unit costs through increasing dozer utilisation, increased process consistency and increased execution of best practice mining operations, Thiess said.

Thiess, Caterpillar and Hastings Deering have also collaborated on the use of autonomous drilling at Lake Vermont, with the second robotised drill mobilised to site last year.

Cat looks for durable, sustainable dozing performance with new D9 GC dozer

Caterpillar has increased the durability and sustainability of its renowned D9 dozer, with its new Cat D9 GC Dozer.

Built for best-in-class owning and operating costs while delivering reliable performance and straightforward operation and maintenance, the D9 GC Dozer shares the same frame as the Cat D9 Dozer, also updated recently, and continues the series legacy with its superior durability, Cat says.

The frame, powertrain and major components are designed to be rebuilt to give the dozer a cost-effective second life with like-new performance, it added.

Application-specific configurations and multiple blade attachments deliver efficient dozing performance in a range of mining, construction and industrial applications such as production dozing, ripping overburden, site maintenance, fleet support, bulk materials handling and land reclamation, the company says. Special configurations are available for desert, arctic and steel mill applications.

The D9 GC replaces the D9R and continues to feature the Cat 3408C engine, producing 308 kW in the new dozer. The engine now offers longer fuel and air cleaner life, a single high-efficiency oil filter for lower maintenance costs and a new, robust self-tensioner. The D9 GC powertrain incorporates the Cat three-speed planetary powershift transmission and torque divider with free-wheel stator, which puts more power to the ground and saves fuel, Cat says.

Delivering more tractive effort to push through tough cuts, Caterpillar’s elevated sprocket and suspended undercarriage isolates the final drives, axles and steering components from harsh impacts to increase machine longevity. The suspended undercarriage reduces shock loads transferred to the undercarriage by up to 50%, resulting in a smoother, more comfortable ride for the operator, according to the company.

The D9 GC offers an isolation-mounted operator platform with ROPS and FOPS for operator safety and comfort, while the Cat Comfort Series seat is fully adjustable with thick seat and back cushions to improve operator comfort and support. Simple hand controls combine steering clutch disengagement and brake application for each track to deliver operation. A notched fuel tank and narrow ripper carriage deliver exceptional visibility of the front and rear work areas to enhance operating safety, Cat says.

“The new D9 GC has many of the same components, parts and systems of the D9R Dozer, offering a familiar design for service technicians,” the company says. “Both left and right equaliser bar pin bearings and pins are conveniently lubricated from a remote lubrication point that is easy to access. Daily powertrain oil check and sampling ports are conveniently accessed from the service platform for added safety.”

The new high-efficiency aluminum bar plate radiator for the engine features a large cover for quick access and improved cleaning efficiency. Sealed electrical connectors lock out dust and moisture to elevate electrical system reliability and servicing, while the bottom guard has a secondary retention system, which allows a service technician to free a stuck guard and safely lower it to the ground.