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Learn more about the design philosophy behind our latest and greatest hydraulic mining shovels
By Caterpillar | Posted January 31, 2023
As Caterpillar begins rolling out its next generation Cat® Hydraulic Mining Shovels (HMS), the manufacturer is quick to point out the many ways these machines will deliver significant benefits in terms of operator comfort and safety, productivity and efficiency, maintenance and support, technology and connectivity.
But the one thing these updates all have in common is the philosophy behind their design.
“When we’re developing new features or updating our current offerings, we want to make sure those improvements are always focused on increasing the value customers get from our machines,” says Matt Jacobs, HMS Sales Manager. “We know we’ve achieved that goal when our customers can increase their annual production and profit with our shovels versus the competition. And we’re proud to say that our next generation shovels are on track to do just that.”
Product experts across the HMS organization agree that reliability is a key contributor to achieving that low-cost-per-ton performance. With a theme of Reliability at the Core, the most important outcome these shovels will deliver is the uptime mines need today and in the future.
“Our customers buy hydraulic mining shovels to move material. So, whenever they’re loading trucks with the machine, it’s generating revenue for them,” says Paul Taylor, HMS Value Stream Manager. “The best thing we can do for them with the next generation shovels is to make them more reliable than the ones before.”
And so far, they’re delivering. The first model of the next generation, the Cat 6060, made its public debut with a full cab on display at MINExpo 2021, and several of the new machines have been working on mines around the world since 2020.
“The overall next generation introduction is absolutely on track with where we expect it to be, and our Next Generation 6060s are improving our customers’ experience as we speak,” says Taylor.
Next generation Cat shovels incorporate many new functions and features designed to add value and boost safety throughout the entire loading operation. These updates fall into six main categories, each including a number of new features and benefits.
The next generation shovels are designed by operators — for operators. The cab is quieter and more comfortable and provides 40% greater visibility than previous cabs for increased safety and productivity. Mining safety best practices are incorporated as part of the standard design, which focuses on areas such as access, egress and visibility. Next generation shovels also incorporate features that allow operators to load more and experience less fatigue over the course of a shift.
Next generation HMS take advantage of an Optimized Electronic Architecture (OEA) that supports productivity, safety and reliability improvements today and provides a platform that will seamlessly integrate future technologies to meet the needs of the site. This architecture impacts nearly every aspect of the next generation shovel. The integration of proven and validated Cat electronics delivers additional performance and reliability advantages, helps operators be more productive, enables a proactive approach to maintenance, and improves connectivity to optional advanced technologies.
Enabled by Technology
The impact of technology on every aspect of a mining operation can’t be underestimated. When it comes to hydraulic mining shovels, many of the next generation features and functions offered today are enabled by technology.
For example, next generation shovels feature Hydraulic Optimization, which dynamically assigns individual pumps or groups of pumps to deliver the exact flow and pressure that each hydraulic function requires. This approach reduces waste and heat, prolongs component lives and conserves energy.
Operator Assist – Enhanced Motion Control is a technology solution that helps improve operator performance while protecting the machine from damage. Payload provides on-the-go weighing of material to improve loading efficiency and optimize truckloads.
Every next generation machine is 100% Cat designed, manufactured, integrated and supported. Common designs and componentry reduce the number of unique parts and streamline maintenance. Parts are stocked around the world for fast, efficient service. Service literature is easy to read and understand so technicians have the information they need to perform maintenance and repairs as quickly as possible
Engineered for the Future
While many next generation updates are available today, a focus on the future is key. That further emphasizes the importance of the electronic architecture that is designed for future updates. Development follows an approach focused on innovation and continuous improvement.
Recognizing that sustainability and carbon footprint are key focus areas for miners today, next generation shovel innovation is closely tied to mining companies’ energy transitions goals. In the future, next generation shovels will be power agnostic, with two different options for the power module: diesel or electric drive. They will be almost the same machine except for the power module, which can even be swapped years down the road.
Centers of Excellence
Before a Cat hydraulic mining shovel goes to work on a customer site, it has been through hundreds of hours of testing and millions of dollars have been spent validating a truly finished product. Caterpillar has its own permanent validation facilities, where engineers work with machines day in and day out. Field follow programs are installed with customers before new products get to production. Design engineers work together in the Tucson Mining Center, and the nearby Tucson Proving Ground is where experts can put real iron through its paces.
While the next generation shovel features deliver significant value individually, it’s what happens when they’re combined that achieves the ultimate goal: customers who get higher production at a lower cost compared to competitive machines.
“The six categories we’ve discussed, and the individual features that make up those categories, are HOW we do it,” says Taylor. “They’re all very important and we’re proud to offer each one of them as we advance our next generation shovel development. But the WHY we do it is just as important. It’s all about our customers — and increasing the value they get from our machines.”