A view from the land down under

Fortescue Metals Group has been busy.

Then again, busy may not fully describe this customer, a mining company based in Western Australia. In less than a decade, they’ve grown into the world’s fourth-largest producer of iron ore.

Chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman recently visited Fortescue’s Solomon mine site and was, in his words, "blown away" by what he saw.

The mine features the largest fleet of Caterpillar autonomous trucks operating in the world -- a fleet of 20 Cat® 793Fs. It is a showcase for how Caterpillar’s innovative technology solutions can increase operational efficiencies while also improving safety at mine sites.

“This was an incredible opportunity to witness first hand a fleet of these driverless trucks running on the haul roads of this mine,” Oberhelman said. “I always love seeing our machines in the field. But at Solomon, I also saw how quickly we’ve put this technology to work, and heard directly from our customer that the autonomous trucks are improving their efficiency.  That’s a great testament to the dedicated Caterpillar and dealer employees who have been working so hard to make this happen.”

Fortescue’s nearby Cloudbreak mine is also home to the world’s largest Cat MineStar operation, which gives Fortescue a comprehensive fleet management system that does everything from monitoring machine health and operational safety to autonomous capabilities.

In total, the Solomon mine has more than 100 large mining trucks, dozens of other pieces of Cat equipment and uses EMD locomotives to haul the iron ore to ports.

The mine site has the ability to produce and export 60 million tonnes of iron ore per year. The work never stops, and it’s Caterpillar’s technology that helps keep it going.

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Oberhelman joined the Caterpillar treasury department in 1975 and has worked in or led a wide variety of businesses across the company.

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