It’s a great time to be a part of Caterpillar’s hard rock vehicle business. From an expanded product line to new technology and emissions initiatives, Caterpillar has made significant and sustained investments in this business in recent years. We are also making significant progress toward our goal of offering zero-emissions, fully autonomous-ready hard rock vehicles.
A number of these initiatives came to fruition in 2018. For example, the completely revamped R1700 underground load-haul-dump (LHD) loader is the company’s first ground-up new machine in nearly two decades. The R1700 has industry-leading payload at 16.5 tons, 20 percent more than the previous model and supports three-pass loading of the 50-ton-capacity Cat® AD45B underground truck. The R1700 is also designed for automation. Using MineStar Command for underground, the machine has an auto dig capability that allows a single operator to manage multiple machines at once.
We’ve also expanded the Cat underground truck line up into a new size class with the AD22. With a small operating envelope, agile characteristics and wide body design to enhance productivity, the AD22 fills a gap in our portfolio and will serve the considerable market for mines in need of a smaller machine.
A major area of investment is helping mine operators meet emissions goals. Caterpillar is working to implement EU Stage V solutions for hard rock underground mining models and has developed a retrofit filter to reduce particulate matter at mine sites with existing Cat fleets. We are also excited about a new development program for battery electric vehicles for mining, which will eliminate diesel particulate exposure for underground personnel, reduce GHG emissions and allow mining operations to dig deeper in search of larger reserves and higher-grade ore.
The company’s underground mining technology portfolio is evolving as well. Cat MineStar™ offerings are growing, making it possible for Caterpillar to deliver a fully integrated, site-wide solution for underground mining. By continuing to strategically leverage partners, Caterpillar is meeting the velocity expectations of the industry and is developing new technologies to target underground hard rock mining challenges. These include Fleet (short interval control, cycle segmentation, assignment) Detect (proximity detection and awareness) and continued development of Command. With plans and investments in place to further develop this portfolio, Caterpillar is both committed to and well-positioned for the trend toward underground mining.