Canadian Mining Journal

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TECHNOLOGY: Cat, Minetec team up for underground offerings



PEORIA, Ill. – Caterpillar recently announced a significant expansion in its technology offerings for the underground hard rock mining industry through a collaboration with another leading technology developer.

Together Caterpillar and Minetec offer the ability to visually track underground assets.

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.

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.

Randy Schoepke, Cat commercial manager for underground technology explained that MineStar will grow to better support underground mines in three main areas:

  1. Safety. The underground safety products currently offered as part of MineStar will be expanded to enable zone-based tracking of all personnel and machines as well as localized awareness per machine to prevent interactions. Offerings include proximity awareness, personnel detection and collision avoidance.
  2. Productivity. This collaboration will significantly grow MineStar technology offerings that impact productivity. Through real-time visualization of operations, mine management will have access to data that allows them to make in-cycle modifications and eliminate bottlenecks that impact production results.
  3. Maintenance. Increased access to information will also be a key benefit for the maintenance organization, helping mines move from reactionary to predictive equipment maintenance. Offerings will include machine health, analytics, remote condition monitoring, maintenance scheduling and real-time events recording. Data will be accessible to reporting tools and customized to meet individual site needs.

“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, Cat 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.