Cat® Command for hauling, the autonomous haulage system that we developed in partnership with several of our largest mining customers, has been successfully deployed for over five years. Part of our MineStar™ suite of technology offerings, the system has safely moved more than 800 million tonnes of ore, helping mines improve productivity by more than 20 percent and cutting the frequency of potentially dangerous safety incidents in half.
Behind the success of this game-changing system is a mine site that has been using Command since before its official launch. Owned and operated by Caterpillar, the mine runs over 350 pieces of equipment, operates 24 hours a day and covers more than 25 square miles. Yet it hasn’t produced a single ton of ore. That’s because this mine is completely virtual, running on a high-performance computing server on the Caterpillar Technology Center campus in Mossville, Illinois, USA.
From their remote operations center, MineStar controllers oversee the movement of more than 100 autonomous haul trucks and orchestrate the 250 auxiliary vehicles that safely interact with the autonomous trucks. With six LCD monitors at their fingertips, they see and manage the entire mining operation—from setting up daily production goals and reassigning trucks, to reviewing diagnostics and sending machines to the shop for maintenance.
The ability to interact with the system just as our customers do helps us ensure the successful delivery of Command for hauling today and in the future. Our development teams get immediate feedback on system performance so they can validate new software releases and mitigate any potential issues that could disrupt operations—and impact productivity—on our customers’ sites.
Our testing and validation capabilities at the Mossville campus are a significant differentiator in our ability to develop successful solutions like Cat Command. We have more than 60 engineers fully dedicated to research, development and validation of the system. In addition, hundreds of engineers support the program ad hoc as needed from their areas of specialty.
While these experts ensure Cat Command is fully validated before it’s put into use, we have many more who are ready to support the system once it goes to the customer site. We have dedicated teams who help Cat dealers and mine personnel during the startup phase to ensure the most efficient launch of the autonomous system. A dozen globally based training instructors are available to assist in preparing personnel to be effective and safe as they operate the autonomous system. And we also have close to 50 additional experts located around the world to provide a “follow the sun” approach, ensuring support for the system around the clock.