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Archive for the ‘Machinery’ Category

Rare model of Caterpillar 60 dozer stolen

This little prize, one of only 500 made, was lifted from the Finning Caterpillar dealership in the U.K. last month.

It’s a diamond-encrusted scale model of a Cat 60 bulldozer.

More at this BBC brief.

Fun linkage for tractor nerds: googling “1931 Caterpillar 60.”

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Tom Mangan posted at 7:48 am January 15th, 2009 |

Caterpillar 979B: Celebrity monster truck

The 979B mining truck appears to be the closest thing to a celebrity in Caterpillar’s equipment lineup (not counting the armor-plated dozers used to implement Israeli justice on their tormentors). This video I found online amounts to a free ad for the behemoth, though the $5.5 million price tag makes the universe of potential purchasers rather small.

There’s some confusion over whether this is the world’s largest truck. One commenter at the thread linked to the YouTube video above says the biggest is the Liebherr 282B, which has 50 tons more capacity, he says.

There’s a project under way to automate these beasts and run them robotically. It seems to me there couldn’t be enough of them the world to justify the millions it would cost to develop the technology — wouldn’t it be cheaper to just pay drivers? — but I read somewhere that large mines in remote locales that actually use giant off-highway trucks have a hard time finding anybody willing to drive them. Theoretically, it could make work sites safer as well.

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Tom Mangan posted at 9:15 am December 30th, 2008 |

Boys never outgrow playing with tractors

A Caterpillar dealer in Roanoke, Virginia, raffled off the rights to operate some heavy machinery for a few hours, with proceeds going to the local symphony (how’s that for cultural contrast?). A reporter for the local paper went along and talked the organizers into letting him run the arm on 324D excavator:

I mounted the steps to the cab, settled into the cushy seat, and recalled Church’s earlier mantra. “Left hand is stick and swing; right is bucket and boom.” At first gingerly and then with near-veteran confidence, I sent that arm out and down, planted the bucket at the base of the dirt mound, and twisted and pulled on controls until the scoop overflowed with red earth. Then I lifted it high, swung the load to my left, and dumped it from 20 feet up. On a roll, I pivoted back to the right, lowered the boom, and heard the diesel torque under load as the bucket clawed into the loose dirt once again. “Up, you devil,” I coaxed my machine in David Wiley fashion, swinging it around to the left while the bucket rose majestically. And then — bulls-eye! I dumped that ton of dirt right on top of my first load. “Tim the Tool Man” would’ve been proud.

I hope the woodwinds are grateful.

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Tom Mangan posted at 11:27 pm December 28th, 2008 |

How Caterpillar’s Product Link keeps the diggers digging

This story appeals to my inner geek: Web-based Caterpillar software that monitors all the machines at a work site. From a profile at Associated Construction Publications:

EquipmentManager is a secure, web-based application that uses key indicators from equipment such as hours, location and diagnostic codes. Combined with tools such as mapping, maintenance scheduling and troubleshooting instructions, EquipmentManager quickly sorts through machine data to identify events that require attention and delivers information in a meaningful and actionable manner. Using satellite technology, Product Link is the hardware that enables information flow between onboard systems and EquipmentManager. The remote management system provides machine location and hours, as well as time and geo-fencing capabilities.

Equipment Manager demo here. The story also recounts how the latest doo-dads — CrackBerries — are keeping machinery up and running. Error codes sent by BlackBerry alert managers when men and machines go awry:

“A year ago, for example, Joey and I received an error code on one of our Cat 5110 excavators – loss of coolant flow,” says Walker. “The engine could have blown apart. We called the foreman and told him to shut down the machine. If we hadn’t, we would have been faced with a $120,000 engine rebuild.”

While Product Link is not really an operator training tool, it can be used to determine when corrective action must be taken by monitoring operator activity. This also helps extend equipment life.

“I received a fault code on an IT38H wheel loader that the operator had applied the parking brake while the machine was in motion,” says Walker. “I called the superintendent to go out and talk to the operator. On a 777 in West Virginia, it came across that the operator was overheating the back brakes on a long, steep haul. We were able to tell the operator to go to a lower gear to avoid overheating and losing the brakes. You don’t realize how much damage can be done to a machine’s engine or powertrain due to operator error.”

Sure, blame it all on the operators….

Anyway, it’ll be technology like this that gives Cat an edge when the economy turns around.

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Tom Mangan posted at 11:46 pm December 21st, 2008 |

Construction Equipment’s Top 100 of 2008

This is must reading for tractor geeks (note, “geek” is a term of respect where I live): Construction Equipment magazine’s 100 greatest advances of the last year. Caterpillar made the list six times:

One thing the list drives home: There is tons of competition in the heavy-equipment industry. And lots of cool stuff happening, like Bobcat developing a skid-steer remote control and Deere building a high-speed dozer on tracks that look like something out of Star Wars.

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Tom Mangan posted at 11:30 am December 20th, 2008 |

Cat’s cool diesel-electric dozer: the D7E

Yesterday I was asking myself: “I wonder if Caterpillar’s making a hybrid?”

Yeah. This is old news for hard-core Cat-watchers: the D7E, Prius of earthmoving set. Instead of a diesel engine doing most of the work of turning the tracks — putting a lot more strain on the engine and burning a lot more fuel — the D7E engine delivers power to a pair of electric motors, which do most of the heavy lifting while the diesel-powered engine operates in a fairly narrow range (like switching from city driving to highway). From Caterpillar’s pitch:

This electric drive train configuration has 60 percent fewer moving parts, requiring less service and replacement than conventional transmissions, enabling the D7E to extend drive train component life and reduce lifetime operating costs by an average of 10 percent. The electric drive system also enables the customer to move up to 25 percent more material per gallon of fuel consumed and reduce the accompanying greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by similar amounts -– improvements that wouldn’t be possible with conventional drive systems. Also, with visibility increases of 35 percent and improved access /egress, the D7E is safe on the jobsite. … The D7E is scheduled for introduction in 2009.

This video with the editor of Construction Equipment magazine interviews a Cat engineer — who drones on a bit but does fill in some of the details on the D7E. This vid shows one turning on a dime.

The diesel engine is at the front left; electric motors turn the drive axles.

The diesel engine is at the front left; electric motors turn the drive axles. This is from a Las Vegas trade show in March 2008.

Various bulletin board postings from potential users seem pretty enthusiastic. This one notes that Volvo is hot on Cat’s tail with its own hybrid drive.

Diesel-electric is old technology: locomotives have been using it for decades. But there is a high-tech twist with the D7E: According to the Cat engineer interviewed in the video above, the advent of semiconductors that can withstand construction site torture tests has smoothed the transition of diesel-electric from trains to track-type tractors. So there’s even a Silicon Valley link for my geeky neighbors to appreciate.

More on the D7E at this Construction Equipment article.

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Tom Mangan posted at 10:29 am December 20th, 2008 |