A lot of the cutting-edge technology rolled out in mining and construction sectors has focused on improving safety and efficiency, while reducing fuel costs and environmental impact.
Earthmoving equipment manufacturers are no different. According to Resolute Equipment’s sales records, the top three machines the company sold in 2015 were Caterpillar’s 777F watercart, Komatsu’s PC850SE-8 excavator and Hino’s service truck.
It is no surprise these earthmoving brands are popular. The manufacturers continually strive to remain competitive by concentrating on developing technology aimed at better safety and efficiency and minimising fuel costs and environmental effects. In order to make this technology a reality, earthmoving suppliers have invested millions in research and development.
In recent years, global heavy equipment manufacturer Caterpillar has teamed up with several technology innovation companies including Australia-based Seeing Machines and France-based Redbird. Through these investments, Caterpillar aims to offer its clients the most up-to-date equipment to enhance their operations.
During 2015, Caterpillar purchased a licence to manufacture, sell and service fatigue monitoring telematics technology from industry pioneer Seeing Machines.
Under the licence, the units, originally sold as Seeing Machines’ Driver Safety Systems (DSS), will be rebranded to Caterpillar and marketed as Caterpillar’s only in-cab real-time fatigue monitoring and intervention devices.
The unit is discretely mounted on the dash of the operator’s cab and provides 24/7 monitoring of the driver’s face and eyes. Customised safety analytics software processes the footage and “understands” potential fatigue and distraction behaviour. It does this by tracking the rotational angle of the driver’s head to perceive point-of-interest, as well as determining eye gaze direction and eyelid behaviour.
Since commercialisation, the DSS has kept thousands of heavy vehicle operators safe by detecting and intervening in more than 120,000 fatigue events within a nine-month period.
This has hugely benefited the mining sector with heightened operator safety and less down time due to incidents and injury.
Drones enter a new phase
In December 2015, Caterpillar agreed to promote the benefits of Redbird’s drones and cloud-based analytics technology to its customers in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
According to Caterpillar, there are enormous potential work site intelligence benefits from using Redbird’s drone technology, which is entering a new phase with data analytics spurring the evolution.
Redbird CEO Emmanuel de Maistre has commented Redbird was focused on developing more industry-specific algorithms to assess the data drones collect while flying over a work site.
The drone and analytics technology could bring tangible work site intelligence benefits to a multitude of operations and projects around the world, helping them function more productively and safely.
Investing in technology
Another major heavy equipment manufacturer and supplier Komatsu invests A$620 million annually in research and development to ensure its equipment is engineered with the latest technology.
Komatsu’s research and development has created autonomous trucks and other remote-controlled mining and construction equipment. The company has also developed fuel efficient hybrid excavators and dump trucks.