Cat® customer Ken Ferguson has big responsibilities as General Manager of Alpha Coal West. Alpha Coal West is a mine located in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin—the largest coal mining area in the U.S.
Alpha Coal has counted on Cat® equipment to get the job done for more than four decades. But recently, Ferguson and his team saw greater possibilities for their Cat equipment.
“We came up with an idea several years ago about taking a 7495 [Electric Rope Shovel] to the next step and creating a better ultra-class shovel that would pass match with the 797 [Large Mining Truck],” Ferguson said.
So Ferguson’s team worked with Cat dealer Wyoming Machinery Company and Caterpillar’s Global Mining team to come up with a solution that improved pass matching from 4 to 3 passes when loading a 400 ton truck. The Caterpillar team developed an Electric Rope Shovel dipper and Ground Engaging Tools system that Alpha validated with the help of Wyoming Machinery. This solution has enabled the customer to load more coal in less time, significantly improving productivity.
“The test had its ups and downs… [But] Caterpillar came back to the design table with all the data, addressed all the issues,” said Wyoming Machinery PSSR Kent Bowker.
Alpha helped Caterpillar further refine the X-4 system on the redesigned dipper. “I bet we’ve cut our time in half replacing teeth and adapters because of the time we spent developing and going through the process,” said Alpha Coal West Lead Field Maintenance Technician Terry Lien.
Alpha Coal had planned to go with a competitor’s Ground Engaging Tool product, but Ferguson and others changed their minds when they saw what Caterpillar came up with.
“The Cat dealer has been our voice; has helped bring the necessary parties together to help design and build this project,” Ferguson said. “One thing that Caterpillar absolutely never ceases to amaze me with is they’re constantly seeking to build a better product.”
Electric rope shovels have been successfully removing overburden and ore on mine sites around the world for more than a century. Driven by a vision to make these highly productive machines safer, more reliable and even more productive, we challenged the status quo and built an electric rope shovel that's better.Learn More