Coal Mining Fleet Management

Coal Mining: Fleet Management Systems Address Three Big Challenges

Managing people and equipment efficiently through every shift change. Tracking and continuously improving cycle time and payload. Ensuring the right material is moved to the right place the first time. These are three of the big challenges surface coal miners deal with on a daily basis—and many are turning to fleet management technologies to address them while reducing cost per ton, enhancing productivity and boosting profitability on their sites.

Let’s look at the personnel and equipment scheduling challenge first. Every day, mine managers face a similar set of questions: Which operators are doing which tasks? What machines do they need to use? Where did the last shift leave those machines? Who called in sick and how do we juggle assignments to get work done?

Fleet management systems help coal miners answer these questions more quickly and efficiently. They enable the scheduling and assignment of all types of equipment—haul trucks, loaders, drills, draglines, light vehicles, fuel trucks, support machines and more—from a central office location. That helps minimize unproductive machine wait time and maximize equipment usage on site, particularly during busy shift change periods.

In addition, fleet management tools can help mine managers better plan equipment maintenance, ensuring they’re sending machines and trucks to the shop for regular preventive maintenance on schedule—and keeping unscheduled downtime to a minimum. These systems can assist with fuel management as well, allowing miners to prevent time lost to fueling backups or trucks running out of fuel.

The second challenge, production monitoring, is another area where surface fleet management technologies are proving beneficial for surface coal mines. By providing real-time visibility to machine cycle time, payload, loading performance and other key operational parameters, these systems help operators review and improve their own performance—for example, making sure their trucks are loaded just to capacity, not over or under.

Plus, mine managers can use surface fleet management tools to set production targets and compare them to actual performance—for individual machines and operators, groups of machines, specific sites or entire fleets. That allows for timely changes to improve loading performance and increase payload predictability. Miners can identify operators who need additional training and even run scenarios to determine the effect of operational changes before implementation.

The final challenge, material management, is about getting the right material to the right location as quickly and safely as possible. Mistakes can be costly—imagine a load of coal dumped in the waste pile!

Fortunately, by monitoring material movement and alerting operators and planners to misroutes, surface fleet management technologies help ensure operators use the proper haul routes, identify the correct load and dump locations, and deposit the right material in the right place. And since these systems are capable of tracking equipment location, miners can use them to analyze dump movement and haul road congestion as well—making changes as needed to keep their coal mining operations running safely and at peak performance.

What do you think? Are these the primary challenges you face in your surface coal mining operation? What other issues are you dealing with? And how can fleet management technologies help you address them?

Share your thoughts with us on Facebook or Twitter.

To learn more about how a Cat® fleet management system can help your operation, contact an expert.

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