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Caterpillar helps Black Thunder mine enhance dozer productivity

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World Coal,

Caterpillar has successfully used advanced automation technology to enhance dozer productivity and safety while simultaneously lowering cost per ton. It worked together with Arch Coal’s Thunder Basin coal company, Black Thunder mine, in the development and operation of Cat® MineStar™ Command for dozing at the site near Wright, Wyoming.

Black Thunder currently runs four Cat D11T dozers equipped with Command for dozing, which includes a semi-autonomous solution that enables one operator to operate multiple dozers from an office environment.

The mine first used Command for dozing in reclamation and now uses the system in production overburden removal in advance of dragline operations. Since using it at the site, the system has logged more than 25 000 hr of tele-remote and autonomous operation time and moved over 23 million loose yd3 of material.

The system has helped improve safety since the dozer’s operator is located in an office remote from the machine, reducing the risk of injury from mounting and dismounting equipment and from ergonomic challenges presented during ripping applications.

The mine altered a section of its production sequence so dozers could carry on working in the cast overburden, taking advantage of the consistent and optimised operation. These benefits are enhancing by dozers operating 24/7 at the mine. Black Thunder is also using Command for dozing to reduce unit costs through increasing dozer utilisation, increased process consistency (consistent process management) and increased execution of best practices.

Edited from press release by Harleigh Hobbs

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