Caterpillar Inc. recently announced a significant expansion in its technology offerings for the underground hard rock mining industry through a collaboration with another leading technology developer.
Caterpillar and Minetec, a wholly owned subsidiary of Codan Limited, have announced an agreement for the development and delivery of technologies that specifically address challenges of the GPS-deprived underground mining environment, such as communications and tracking of both people and machines.
“We’re very excited by what we can achieve when we collaborate with Caterpillar,” said Rory Linehan, Minetec Executive General Manager. “Minetec has a strong focus on innovation and R&D, with an ability to quickly develop and bring new products to market. When we combine those strengths with Caterpillar’s experience in equipment, engineering and mining technology — and then back it up with support from the global Cat dealer network — we’re going to be able to deliver unique technologies that increase safety and add value to the miner."
The collaborative work will result in provide best-in-class site solutions for underground mines. These integrated solutions will be offered as part of Cat® MineStar™ and supported by the Cat dealer network.
“Our underground customers expect a lot from us,” said Randy Schoepke, Caterpillar Commercial Manager for Underground Technology. “Our vision has always been to deliver a full technology solution that addresses their challenges across the operation. While we’ve continued to deliver proven technologies that address many of these important areas, this relationship will reduce the time it takes to deliver that full site solution to our customers. Through collaboration, we’re executing our vision.”
The expanded, integrated solutions to be offered by Caterpillar will focus on applications of underground mobile equipment and will enable expansion of MineStar capabilities through the use of improved high-precision tracking and wireless communications, task management technology and proximity detection.
One of the key benefits that Minetec brings to the table is its proprietary tracking and visualization technology, which revolutionizes situational awareness in the underground environment. The system combines wireless data communications and high-precision tracking to provide sub-meter location information, even in challenging and dynamic underground environments.
“What’s important is getting the right information to the right person at the right time,” said Schoepke. “As we fundamentally change how and when data is presented to operators and supervisors, we significantly impact delays and errors in everyday operations.”
Schoepke explained that MineStar will grow to better support underground mines in three main areas:
“Through this collaboration, we now offer the industry’s most complete integrated solution for hard-rock underground mines of every size, type, complexity and mining method” said Sean McGinnis, Caterpillar Mining Technology Product Manager. “It’s a whole-of-mine technology platform available from a single integrator — Caterpillar — and backed by the world-class global Cat dealer network.”
These additional capabilities are scalable and OEM agnostic to address the needs of mines with mixed fleets and other third-party technologies. Current MineStar offerings such as Cat Command for underground, an autonomous solution for LHDs, will continue to grow and will integrate seamlessly with the new offerings. Current Minetec customers can transition to the new MineStar offerings at their own pace.
“This collaboration is a huge step forward in underground mining technology,” said McGinnis. “Together we’re delivering a truly data-driven reality for underground mines.”