A fleet of gigantic Cat® 793 haul trucks rumbles along the dusty, red-sand haul roads of the Solomon mine in a vast, arid region of Western Australia. Working continuously, 24/7, the trucks maneuver through mine site traffic, back up into loading points and navigate to dump sites – all with minimal human intervention.
Iron is the reason Fortescue Metals Group (Fortescue) is there. At full operation, the new Solomon mine is projected to deliver 70 million tonnes of ore annually. It’s a big job – and one that demands safety and maximized productivity. That’s where Caterpillar’s deep understanding of the mining industry and our customers’ needs put us in the ideal position to offer semi-autonomous and autonomous solutions such as Cat® Command for Hauling. The realization of a longtime dream of the mining industry, Cat Command has improved safety and productivity.
Trucks operating with Cat Command for Hauling use sophisticated onboard intelligence and advanced guidance technology, so a small number of people can run the whole project and centralize the control. For job sites such as underground mines, autonomous solutions are fast becoming a safety necessity.
Since its inception, Cat Command has gone through a progression of offerings. Semi-autonomous solutions such as Command for Dozing, for instance, allow one operator to oversee up to three semi-autonomous Cat® D11s – Caterpillar’s largest dozers – by remote control. There’s even an option where the operator has no line of sight to the dozers and uses cameras for feedback.
”Every mine takes a different journey to autonomy,” explains Sean McGinnis, product development manager. “But that path always leads to a safer, more productive mine site. Cat Command reduces variations in the way the machine is operating, ensuring that it operates the same way, every time. It’s like having the mine’s best operator at the controls, but he or she is located safely away from any potential hazards. It’s the best of both worlds: increased productivity combined with increased safety.”
Today, the Cat Command concept continues to meet customer needs in ways that we couldn’t anticipate five years ago. That’s what makes innovation exciting and what energizes us to keep finding solutions that make a real difference.