Tag Archives: WesTrac

WesTrac gets flexible with used, refurbished and as-new parts division

Caterpillar dealer WesTrac is spinning out its FlexiParts™ & Mining Services business to focus on sourcing and selling cost-effective parts, components and attachment solutions from its global network.

The new division will provide clients with access to a broad range of used, refurbished and as-new parts, it said.

A new website at www.flexiparts.com.au with an extensive online inventory is supporting the business online.

“The newly-branded business has operated as a division within WesTrac for some time and is now being established as a separate entity focused on sourcing and selling cost-effective parts, components and attachment solutions from their global network,” WesTrac said.

FlexiParts & Mining Services also allows customers to sell unwanted machinery and parts and will purchase and dismantle machines to ensure there is a large range and diverse inventory on hand, the company said. As well as Cat parts and equipment, the business sources and sells a broad range from other OEM brands. Exchange and outright purchasing options are also available for non-powertrain products, it added.

Travis Cargill, WesTrac General Manager Mining & FlexiParts, said the service was being ramped up in response to customer demand for more flexible solutions, differentiated price points and faster delivery times, which are not always possible when waiting for new parts and components.

“The major advantage of FlexiParts & Mining Services is that it provides customers with cost-effective options, sourced specifically for their needs, from anywhere in the world,” Cargill said.

“That often reduces wait times that can occur when purchasing new parts and provides customers with significant savings.

“It’s also important to note that while the business is evolving into a standalone entity, it will continue to maintain its close ties with other divisions within WesTrac and retain in-depth familiarity of customer sites and requirements.”

Another major benefit provided to FlexiParts & Mining Services customers is the provision of transport frames, specifically designed to allow safe transportation of a broad range of items, the company said.

Danielle Bull, WesTrac General Manager Product Support, said WesTrac has a duty of care under the Chain of Responsibility legislation to ensure safe transportation of bulky items, which is a key concern for customers.

“We’ve put a lot of emphasis on ensuring we can provide fit-for-purpose transport frames for a large range of parts, so customers know they not only have access to well-priced parts, but delivery to site will be a seamless process.”

WesTrac building Caterpillar autonomous training facility in Western Australia

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.

PYBAR takes Command of Dargues automation with new Cat R1700 LHDs

PYBAR has taken a step closer to advanced underground automation at the Dargues gold mine in New South Wales, Australia, with the arrival of a second new Cat® R1700 underground LHD at the Diversified Minerals-owned site.

The new loader visited the PYBAR head office in Orange, en-route to the mine site, where it was met by executives and senior management from PYBAR and WesTrac.

The first of two new R1700s purchased for Dargues from WesTrac was commissioned at the mine during August and the company, in November, announced that the underground loaders were undergoing staged testing that will see them move towards improved automation in early 2020.

Dargues is owned by Diversified Minerals, an associated company of PYBAR Mining Services. The mine is expected to have a 355,000 t/y capacity gold processing facility comprising crushing, milling, flotation and filtration circuits and produce a sulphide concentrate for export. This could see Dargues produce an average of 50,000 oz/y of gold in the first six years of production.

The new machines are equipped with Caterpillar’s next generation Command for underground technology, giving them automation capabilities that will allow them to be driven via tele-remote from the surface from early-2020. This will realise significant productivity, efficiency and safety gains, according to PYBAR.

Command is part of the Cat Minestar™ integrated suite of offerings designed specifically for mining, PYBAR said.

PYBAR Chief Technology Officer, Andrew Rouse, said: “With the second loader now on site we will complete the tele-remoting set up in time for stoping early next year.

“Our intention is to be able to tele-remote from the surface from the outset when both loaders go into full operation. It’s a milestone all three teams (Caterpillar, PYBAR and WesTrac) have been working towards and will deliver.”

The new loaders were purchased after trials at the Vivien gold mine in Western Australia during 2017, PYBAR said. These trials delivered impressive results, including quicker bucket loading, faster cycle times, greater payloads and less fuel burn, according to PYBAR.

PYBAR said: “These benefits were further highlighted when the Cat R1700 was tested against the R1700G at Vivien (owned by Ramelius Resources) in June 2018, prompting PYBAR to place the order for the new loaders.”

Rouse added: “We were extremely impressed with performance of the new loader during testing. With the knowledge gained from the activity at Vivien, we were able to carry out a rigorous analysis around the loader combinations required for the Dargues operation with the R1700 proving to be the most cost effective.”

Since the first new loader has been put into operation, PYBAR has been preparing for advanced automation through the use of the traction control and Autodig features on the new machines, it said. The feedback has been very positive with full buckets consistently being achieved, the company added.

“The Command technology enables remote operation from the surface or underground, providing productivity and efficiency gains, improved safety of personnel, more accurate tunnel navigation, and reduced machine damage,” PYBAR said.

Caterpillar’s Commercial Manager for Underground Technology, Randy Schoepke, said PYBAR has long seen the value of being on the “leading edge of technology” as a contractor and an owner miner.

“The new Cat R1700 loader will be a huge complement to their technology portfolio leveraging the most advanced features in the industry,” he said.

“The R1700 features of traction control, live payload, Autodig, and ride control will not only provide operator comfort and productivity but also be leveraged by Caterpillar’s latest generation of Command for Underground, Caterpillar’s remote and autonomous control system.”

Schoepke concluded: “When there is a requirement to remove the operator from the underground environment, the technology allows safety and utilisation to be taken to the next level. We look forward to our continued work with PYBAR on this project.”

WesTrac General Manager of Mining Sales, Jody Scott, said this development was the culmination of more than two years work with PYBAR to “identify and test the technology that will have the most impact and benefits for them and their clients”.

He added: “Extensive testing has enabled us to fully evaluate the challenges posed by the harsh underground environments in which the machines are required to operate. It has also allowed us to set up the machines to get the most out of their automation and tele-remote capabilities.”

Cat, WesTrac highlight XE wheel loader range in Western Australia

Caterpillar, last week, invited dealers and key clients from across Australia and New Zealand to a special showcase event for its latest wheel loaders, articulated trucks and a range of other equipment.

The machines were put through their paces at Quarry Farm, south of Perth, in Western Australia, with 2019 national Load and Haul Event centred around Cat’s new XE range including the Cat 988K XE and 972M XE wheel loaders.

Cat said: “The XE range is proving incredibly popular for a broad range of applications across construction, earthmoving and smaller mining operations, and is closely based on the popular predecessor models with additional features providing greater productivity, efficiency and even better all-round performance.”

The new Cat 988K XE is the first large wheel loader offered by Caterpillar with a high-efficiency electric drive system, delivering 25% greater overall efficiency and up to 10% more productivity in load-and-carry applications than the 988K loader, according to Cat.

“Delivering high-production in all loading applications, the 988K XE is recommended for demanding job sites where fuel efficiency makes a difference in the machine’s total cost of operation,” the company said.

The new loader features switched reluctance technology and leverages more than 15 years of Cat electric drive experience as well as more than four years of stringent testing in a range of applications, according to the company.

The Cat C18 ACERT™ engine, mechanical dropbox, driveline and axles from the legacy of the 988K remain in this electric drive machine, providing a consistent, trouble-free operation, Cat says.

Cat’s 972M XE wheel loader, meanwhile, features a continuous variable transmission that results in smooth shifts, fast acceleration, and speed on grade, while also delivering exceptional fuel economy, Cat says.

“While designed with the construction sector demands in mind, these characteristics will make the 972M XE a popular choice in quarry and mining operations with the need to deal with steeper grades, tighter loading areas, and greater pressure on cost per tonne,” it said.

Among other recent additions on display was the 986K wheel loader, 6015B hydraulic shovel, and the 745 and 740 GC articulated trucks.

There was a cameo appearance by the Piacentini Panther Low Loader, designed by Bunbury-based contractor Piacentini & Son, which has been developed to improve safety and efficiency when loading and transporting heavy equipment around mine sites, the company said.

Jarvas Croome, CEO of WesTrac which hosted the event and is the Caterpillar dealer for Western Australia and New South Wales, said industry would welcome the further refinement of this popular range of construction and earthmoving equipment.

“Activity is increasing across Australia with a large number of infrastructure and major construction projects underway, while there’s also a lot of movement in mining,” he said.

“The highly versatile Cat XE range is going to be a popular choice for fast, efficient operations across all sectors, not to mention providing improved environmental performance for operators.”

Mapizy and Camp Connect welcomed into Australia’s CORE Innovation Hub

Perth-based technology companies Mapizy and Camp Connect have been selected as the winners of the third round of the CORE Start Award, sponsored by CORE foundation partners NERA (National Energy Resources Australia) and WesTrac.

The CORE Start Award will provide these promising energy resources technology startups with three months of co-working at the CORE Innovation Hub, coupled with facilitated industry connections, mentoring and network links to support the growth of their business, CORE said. In addition, award recipients remain connected as CORE Start Alumni for ongoing opportunities.

The CORE Innovation Hub is Australia’s first co-working, collaboration and innovation hub focused on the resources sector.

Mapizy CEO, Dr Mehdi Ravanbakhsh, said his company uses ground-breaking deep learning technology to exploit images from satellites, drones, terrestrial and underwater platforms to automate the discovery of changes to natural and built environments at scale.

“Equipped with this information, organisations are empowered to make better decisions and improve performance. We are a team of highly skilled artificial intelligence engineers with a passion to make the world a better place through technology,” Ravanbakhsh said.

NERA CEO Miranda Taylor said Mapizy’s capabilities in artificial intelligence to interpret multi-source image data will add an exciting new set of skills to the CORE innovation community.

Camp Connect Founder, Erin Bell, said that its software and mobile app is a white label enterprise application to provide a simple, cost- and time-effective means for mining and construction companies to better engage, communicate, build social connections and improve culture with their employees, while enhancing current emergency response measures.

“I have a career background in human resources, health, safety and emergency within the FIFO (fly-in, fly-out) mining industry and my co-founder Scott’s professional experience is in construction project management. We developed Camp Connect with the aim of aiding with key industry trends and challenges related to mental health, isolation and utilisation of technology,” Bell said.

WesTrac Innovation Development Manager, Graeme Klass, said Camp Connect gave an excellent presentation, due to its ability to clearly define their purpose and technology.

“The founders have relevant industry knowledge and their platform has the capacity to grow, not just in Australia, but globally. As mining contractors, WesTrac would definitely find this tool useful when our employees travel to site,” Klass said.

Bell added: “Winning the Core Start Award will help us greatly in enhancing our business networks, accessing international commercialisation opportunities and mentoring as we grow and scale.”

The winners were selected following a Pitch @ CORE event on August 29 that saw seven founders pitch their cutting-edge solutions to real industry challenges to a panel of judges. CORE Innovation Hub General Manager, Aaron Schier, said the calibre of presentations was excellent and selecting the CORE Start recipients proved to be difficult.

“The quantity, quality, and diversity of applicants is increasing each round, which is testament to the health of the local innovation ecosystem and a promising signal for industry,” he said.

This project received grant funding from the Australia Government, according to CORE.

Battle for greenfield mining autonomy

The big two global giants in autonomous mining truck solutions continue to battle it out in chasing new contracts, especially for greenfield mines that offer a chance to supply more profitable “new” autonomous fleets as opposed to retrofitting autonomous capability onto existing fleets.

The main battle grounds remain Australian iron ore in Western Australia’s Pilbara region and Canadian oil sands in the Alberta production hub centred on Fort McMurray, though there are also surface haul truck autonomy trials ongoing in other mine types such as iron ore in other parts of the world, gold, coal and copper.

In iron ore the competition has turned traditional norms on their head.

Rio Tinto, traditionally a Komatsu truck user, announced earlier in 2019 that it had agreed to work together with Caterpillar to create an automated mine operation at the Koodaideri iron ore project, in Western Australia. The agreement will see Cat® and dealer WesTrac supply and support mining machines, automation and enterprise technology systems for the new mine. Rio, in a separate release, said this would see the supply of a fleet of 20 new autonomous 793F trucks.

Then in September, BHP, traditionally a Caterpillar truck user, turned the tables again by announcing that it will deploy 41 new Komatsu 930E-5 ultra-class autonomous haul trucks at its new South Flank iron ore mine in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, commencing in October 2019.

But OEM battles aside, autonomy comes with its own issues. This includes the mine having sufficient network capacity in place but also other practicalities like how it ties in with haul road design and how it affects OTR tyre performance.

This tyre angle is being delved into in some detail by Tony Cutler, Principal at specialist consultancy OTR Global, at the forthcoming inaugural Truck & Shovel Conference from International Mining Events, running 19-20 September in Singapore at the InterContinental, Middle Road.

His talk, “Factoring tyres into autonomous haulage”, will point out that since 2008, over 400 autonomous haul trucks have entered commercial operation on open-pit mines and, while autonomous haulage offers improved productivity, safety and operating cost, he argues that the main constraint to maximising these benefits is tyres. This presentation identifies the limitations associated with tyres – some inherent to the tyres, others to the autonomous systems and operating environments – and suggests solutions.

Cutler will be joined in an autonomy related session by Drew Larsen, Director of Business Development, ASI Mining, in a presentation titled: ‘Autonomous Mining – more feasible than you might think’.

The company, 34% owned by global mining OEM Epiroc, began work on a project with Barrick Gold to retrofit and automate a fleet of Komatsu 930-E Ultra Class haul trucks at the Arturo joint venture operation in Nevada, last year, and judging from Barrick’s commentary in its June quarter results, the gold miner is happy with how things are going.

Interestingly, Barrick said initially none of the OEMs wanted to engage in the project, “due to the mammoth task of retrofitting an autonomous system to a 20-year-old fleet of ultra-class trucks and the technological limitations that come with that age of machine”.

Barrick found another partner in ASI that specialises in autonomous solutions both inside and outside the mining industry and has now successfully completed a proof of concept (POC) utilising five haulage units “that have delivered over 5.5 Mt faster than any other similar POC in the industry”, it said.

These autonomous solutions require a lot of data to be effective and while there are no shortages of nodes on equipment nowadays, the haulage and loading industry is still coming to terms with how best to leverage this data.

Speakers from Komatsu will be confronting this issue head on at the event, with Jason Knuth, Senior Manager – Data Solutions, and Simon Van Wegen, Product Manager – Data Solutions, presenting a keynote titled, “Data-driven designs for dynamic mining environments”.

The two intend to reveal how OEMs are leveraging the plethora of data nodes on smart equipment to adapt equipment and design solutions for the modern mine environment.

To hear from more speakers like this, register for Truck & Shovel by clicking here.

Caterpillar, WesTrac to help automate Rio Tinto’s Koodaideri iron ore mine

Rio Tinto and Caterpillar have agreed to work together to create an automated mine operation at the Koodaideri iron ore project, in Western Australia, that makes best use of data analytics and integration to enhance safety, optimise production, boost mining machine use and lower costs.

The recently signed agreement will see Cat® and dealer WesTrac supply and support mining machines, automation and enterprise technology systems for the new mine. Rio, in a separate release, said this would see the supply of a fleet of 20 autonomous 793F trucks (pictured) as well as four autonomous blast drills.

Beyond the autonomous fleet, Caterpillar will also provide loaders, dozers, graders, water carts and diggers for the operation, which will be Rio Tinto’s first Pilbara mine to be primarily operated using Caterpillar machinery, Rio said. “The two companies have also agreed to study the potential for increased levels of automation of heavy mining equipment at the mine in the future.”

The partnership with Caterpillar at Koodaideri will enhance Rio Tinto’s industry-leading Mine of the Future™ programme, which connects all components of the mining value chain for the first time, as well as making increased use of automation and digitisation, according to Rio. Caterpillar’s machinery will be integrated with Rio Tinto’s Mine Automation System (MAS), which collects and enhances data created by the company’s mining operations, to improve productivity across Rio Tinto’s entire iron ore network.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore Chief Executive, Chris Salisbury, said: “We’re pleased to be partnering with Caterpillar and WesTrac, the regional Cat dealer, to help make Koodaideri the most technology-enabled and innovative mine in our Pilbara iron ore network.

“Technology is rapidly changing our mining operations as we harness innovation to make our operations safer, smarter and more productive. This extension of our partnership with Caterpillar and WesTrac represents an exciting step for our business.”

Denise Johnson, Group President Resource Industries, Caterpillar Inc, said: “The Caterpillar team is looking forward to working with Rio Tinto to apply our proven mining equipment and technology and to implement additional MineStar™ autonomy solutions at Koodaideri—a new mine designed to capitalise on leading-edge technology.

“We are excited to work together to advance Rio Tinto’s mine automation and digitalisation program.”

Koodaideri will deliver a new production hub for Rio Tinto’s iron ore business in the Pilbara. Construction work has commenced, and first production is expected in late 2021. Once complete, the mine will have an annual capacity of 43 Mt, underpinning production of the Pilbara Blend, Rio’s flagship iron ore product.

As mine construction advances, WesTrac will manage logistics of mining machine delivery and commissioning and play a key role in implementing technology solutions.

Jarvas Croome, WesTrac CEO, said: “WesTrac is excited to be part of the Koodaideri project and to work with Caterpillar to deliver ground-breaking equipment solutions to support Rio Tinto’s Mine of the Future vision.”

Last week, FLSmidth announced it would bring the latest smart 3D design to Koodaideri after announcing a contract win.