Electric Drive Solutions Help Customers Win
As the technology capability and the power density of power electronics, motors, generators and energy storage solutions have advanced, so, too, has the value proposition of electrification for Caterpillar’s customers. Electrified equipment, in the right application, can offer benefits to companies in each of Caterpillar’s major industry segments including fuel savings, reductions in total cost of ownership, environmental sustainability, durability and productivity.
Caterpillar has been responding to these trends for nearly a decade, beginning with the D7E track-type tractor, our first piece of construction machinery equipped with electric drive and the expansion of Caterpillar’s line of industry leading large mining trucks to now include several AC drive models. In fact, Caterpillar’s current product line includes a rich heritage in electrically driven machines dating back to many developments in the surface extraction and underground mining equipment as well as locomotive industry segments. Today, we are developing electric, hybrid and battery-powered technologies that meet a variety of diverse customer needs and fall into three main categories.
The first are tethered machines that plug into utility power, such as our electric rope shovels and draglines. These products are structured to utilize available grid-based power to drive machine functions in a variety of predominately mining applications, both surface and underground. In longwall mining applications, Caterpillar’s shearer automation technology – including underground cameras and equipment health monitoring – increase productivity and improve safety for personnel through less exposure to hazards and dust.
Second, for demanding job sites where fuel efficiency makes a significant difference in a machine’s total cost of operation, we offer diesel-electric solutions that couple an electric generator, power electronics and AC drive motors to deliver significant fuel economy to our customers. An example is the 988K XE, the first wheel loader offered by Caterpillar with a high-efficiency switched reluctance system, representing the next generation in electric drive technology. It increases fuel efficiency by 25 percent overall and up to 49 percent in tough face-loading applications compared to the 988K.
Third are fully battery-powered machines, from which the internal combustion engine is removed entirely and replaced with an electrified battery power source. These machines are suited for environments where eliminating emissions is essential, such as underground mines where ventilation can be a challenge. Our R1300 battery electric load/haul/dump (LHD) proof-of-concept development unit is the first machine developed by Caterpillar that is fully battery-electric powered, excluding previous acquisitions. Created through leveraging our investments, product development processes and deep expertise in electric drive and energy storage technologies, the R1300 development represents a foundation in providing our customers with the fully battery powered equipment critical to their needs. Read more about this machine.
Beyond the machines, Caterpillar’s electric innovation also combines our expertise in diesel and gas electric generator sets with growing industry acceptance and demand for photovoltaic solar panel technology and advanced energy storage solutions. Our Cat hybrid energy system solutions allow Cat customers to deliver renewable electric power to stationary locations in remote areas via a combination of genset, solar and energy storage building blocks. With this innovation and others in the pipeline, Caterpillar is building a broad and growing portfolio of electrically powered products, focused on expanding our offerings and providing our customers with even more product options to help them solve some of their largest challenges.