November 2, 2021
According to Craig Watkins, MineStar Commercial Manager, “We are all working towards the autonomous mine of the future.” Why? Because for mining customers operating trucks in remote and rugged environments, autonomous and fleet monitoring solutions like MineStar keep operators safe and mining operations running better than ever. When an important mining customer requested autonomous technology to be applied to water trucks on their site in addition to the mining trucks themselves, Team Caterpillar got to work developing the first fully autonomous water truck, the 789D.
Product engineers and software developers from across the company were fully engaged in this project. Then, customer facing teams ensured the solution aligned with the customers’ goals and reported feedback to the internal teams to enhance the end result. Andy Verheyen, Senior Electronic Engineering Manager who helped develop the MineStar technology for the water truck said, “This is the first time we are applying this technology to a water truck and we will be able to use what we learn to inform future water trucks. This is the current example of how we are expanding what’s possible with autonomy but there are other parts of the business where this same outside-the-box work is being executed. From a career’s standpoint, this speaks to the range of projects someone with interests in automation could be part of.” From electrical engineers to marketing professionals, the range in skillsets necessary to bring a product like this to fruition is just as broad as the project opportunities across Caterpillar.
Craig says, “When we automate more vehicles, the whole operation moves faster and becomes safer.” Craig explains that water trucks are a critical asset on the mine site as they eliminate dust coming from vehicles running down dirt roads, which enables the rest of the mine to operate more quickly- but doing it safely is important. Over-watering the roads can cause slick driving conditions. The autonomous technology prevents over watering, which is a sustainable solution that drives mine site efficiency.
Craig said, “This project was very exciting. Since I joined Caterpillar in 2005, MineStar has been on the bleeding edge so the status quo has been doing new things. The success of the fully autonomous water truck is an exciting look at what other opportunities await.” Are you ready to apply your skillset to the opportunities at Caterpillar? Join today.