Cat Global Mining Hosts First Global Mining and Technology Forum

More than 550 miners, Cat® dealers and Caterpillar staff gathered recently for the company’s first-ever Global Mining and Technology Forum. The forum brought customers from 24 countries to Tucson, Arizona, USA, where they heard presentations, attended classroom sessions, saw equipment demonstrations and networked with dealers, Caterpillar subject matter experts and each other.

Caterpillar has hosted many mining forums over the last few decades, and technology-specific programs have been popular events for several years. The 2019 Global Mining and Technology Forum was the first time this entire group of Caterpillar experts got together to provide a unified program for their mining customers.

“I wondered how effective and informative the forum would be with the integration of technology along with operations and maintenance, and I have to say Caterpillar knocked it out of the park,” said Tony Araquistain, a mining sales representative from dealer Cashman Equipment who has attended a number of mining forums. “Sessions were informative and well-timed, and everything was well-placed. My clients were favorably impressed — and given all that was covered and what needed to be covered, I think this was about the best one I have attended.”

This comprehensive program was focused on cost per ton and targeted at operational levels at the mine: production, maintenance and technology. The goal of every session and every presentation was to help miners find ways to lower their costs while providing the raw materials on which the world depends.

Mining Forum 2019 Mining Forum 2019

Building a Better World

The forum opened with a welcome from Jean Savage, Caterpillar vice president for the Surface Mining & Technology organization, who began with a simple message for the mining customers in the audience: “Thank you.”

“You are at the center of everything we do at Caterpillar,” she said. “My hope is that you leave this forum knowing that we appreciate your business, your partnership and what makes mining possible. Working together, we really are building a better world.”

Savage also recognized the Cat dealers in the audience, thanking them for their expertise and service. “Our global dealer network truly sets Caterpillar apart from the competition, and we don’t take that partnership for granted,” she said. “Our customers depend on you — and time and time again, you deliver.”

After briefly touching on products, services and technologies, Savage focused on the goal of the meeting. “This week is all about lowering costs and how we can help you optimize your equipment, integrate technology and manage maintenance,” she said. “I’m excited about the opportunities for improvement in all three of these areas.”

Building a better world Building a better world

Focusing on Cost Per Ton

Mine sites measure productivity by the volume of material they move, and they measure their profitability by how much it costs them to move it. Every aspect of their operations influences this important number.

Some miners refer to this number as cost per unit of material moved or Net Present Value. Others measure return on investment or total cost of ownership. Caterpillar traditionally calls it cost per ton, and the goal of the Mining and Technology Forum was to help attendees find ways to lower it.

“Cost per ton is something that Caterpillar is very serious about throughout the entire organization,” said surface mining general manager David Rea, who joined Savage in addressing the audience on opening night. “At the end of this forum, hopefully you come away with many ideas to lower cost per ton at your operation.”

Rea explained that Caterpillar and Cat dealers are focused on providing mining equipment, product support, and state-of-the-art technologies for their mining customers — but their commitment goes well beyond.

“We’re focused on delivering all three,” he said. “But the biggest gains for miners come when we put them all together. You win or lose based on the performance at your mine site, and having the right partners can make a big impact.”    

Bringing Caterpillar and dealer experts to the mine site is becoming more and more important. “When we leverage expertise from our product groups, sales representatives, application specialists, product support people, MineStar™ experts — we can rally the full power of the Caterpillar matrix to meet your needs. We can help you become more efficient with your current assets, continually lowering total cost of ownership and cost per ton.”

Rea described lowering cost per ton as a complicated mix of managing many elements. The forum was designed to offer multiple ideas and solutions that miners could take back to their operations and have immediate impact.

“Cost per ton is not a marketing trick. It’s a message from our core. I’m just like every other Caterpillar person here this week. This message on cost per ton is part of our DNA. That’s why we have almost 100 Caterpillar people here ready to talk about this important topic.”

Rea challenged attendees to think about these two words: Own it. “Ask yourself this question all week,” he said. “‘How can I shift my company from where we have been to where we want to go?’”

Focusing on cost per ton Focusing on cost per ton

Recognizing the Impact of Technology

One of the key messages in every forum session was the importance of technology. Whether the focus is on optimizing equipment applications or improving machine maintenance activities, there is a Cat technology that can help miners do it more efficiently, safely and at a lower cost.

Jim Hawkins, director of Cat MineStar Solutions, gave an overview of this topic during a general session, sharing some of the gains miners are experiencing through the use of technology offerings. He stressed the importance of integrating technologies across the complete value chain in order to reap the full benefit.

“Technology is how you’re going to get the step-change improvements you’re looking for,” he said. “But you have to manage these technologies across all of your equipment and your whole mining operation to get the maximum value.”

Hawkins also shared the Caterpillar philosophy on interoperability — making it possible for machines, technologies, systems and processes to work together, no matter the manufacturer, vendor or IT platform.

Interoperability makes it possible for Cat technologies to be used on any brand of equipment. It also makes it possible for Cat technologies to work on the Cat machines already in the field and integrate with mines’ existing systems and processes.

“We know that it isn’t realistic to expect that our customers will depend on only one brand of equipment,” he said. “And we know that you want to make the best use of your existing fleet of Cat machines. Interoperability allows us to operate different brands and models of machines in the same space.”

Hawkins went on to say that while Cat technology works on other brands of equipment, miners can expect the best solution when Cat technology is integrated onto Cat machines. “The more integrated the machines and technologies are, the better the outcome,” he said.

After his presentation, Hawkins was joined on stage by members of his leadership team for a panel discussion to address some of the questions and challenges miners and dealers have shared in regards to technology integration.

Recognizing the Impact of Technology Recognizing the Impact of Technology

Hearing From the Experts

Participants had the opportunity to attend 13 breakout courses of their choice during the program. Courses were divided into three categories: Optimizing Equipment, Managing Maintenance and Integrating Technology.

Optimizing Equipment classes provided tips and best practices on how to improve the productivity of existing mining equipment. Courses were taught by some of the top Caterpillar mining product and application experts.

Managing Maintenance classes introduced attendees to key processes and best practices related to mining equipment maintenance. An experienced group of Caterpillar product support staff shared practical experiences from mining operations around the world.

Integrating Technology classes provided an in-depth look at Cat MineStar offerings and applications for mining. Experts shared tips and real-life examples of how technologies help miners improve the safety of their operations, increase productivity and lower overall costs.

In addition to classroom and general sessions, the forum also offered a trade fair that was open each day of the event. The Utilizing Solutions trade fair gave participants the opportunity to visit with experts from non-product offerings such as Cat Financial, Rock Tools, MineStar Detect safety technologies, Ground Engaging Tools, Electric Power Generation, Dynamic Gas Blending and more.

Hearing from the experts Hearing from the experts

Seeing Machines in Action

One of the highlights for Mining Forum participants was a visit to the Tinaja Hills Demonstration and Learning Center. Every participant spent a half-day at the center, where they watched a full MineStar technology demonstration, including autonomous machines. After the demonstration, the iron was on display for walk-arounds.

Caterpillar product group leaders also had the chance to share the latest on Cat mining equipment during a series of short presentations during a General Session. Attendees got updates on Cat Large Mining Trucks, Hydraulic Shovels, Electric Rope Shovels, Wheel Loaders, Dozers, Graders, Rotary Drills, Off-Highway Trucks, Scrapers and Underground Hard Rock Vehicles.

Seeing Machines in Action Seeing Machines in Action

Visiting Facilities

Prior to the program, a number of Mining Forum attendees took the opportunity to visit Caterpillar factories in Illinois and Texas
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Visitors to Illinois made stops in Peoria and Decatur, touring the facilities where Caterpillar makes mining trucks, wheel loaders and dozers. They were also given a close-up look at the facility where the company conducts research and development for many mining products. The Caterpillar Visitors Center and Museum in Peoria was another highlight of this trip.

The Denison, Texas, program showcased Cat drills with a tour of the factory where they are made. This trip included in-the-iron time with the Cat MD6310.

Visiting Facilities Visiting Facilities

Going Beyond the Iron

The 2019 Global Mining and Technology Forum was the first of its kind, but judging by the response from participants, it won’t be the last.

“Beyond the products, technologies, services and solutions we offer, we’re always looking for opportunities to add value beyond our offerings,” said Tony Johnson, marketing manager for the mining organization who was in charge of organizating and executing the forum. “This forum was one example of that commitment.”

Johnson has been involved in the majority of the company’s programs for mining customers. “A lot has changed since the last time we hosted a Mining Forum,” he said. “We’ve experienced downturns and upturns. We’ve seen technology and automation become more and more important. But despite the challenges and changes, our focus has remained the same: Being a partner to the mining industry.”

Going Beyond the Iron Going Beyond the Iron