Caterpillar Drives It, Then Builds It

Staff | September 28, 2010
Full-scale simulators, such as these developed by Caterpillar, provide a means to optimize component interaction for performance and durability before the equipment is actually built.

Thanks to modern technology, the ability to test-drive an off-highway truck doesn't necessarily mean the truck's even hit the road yet.

In the process of upgrading its mechanical-drive mining trucks and rolling out two new AC electric-drive trucks, Caterpillar has designed and constructed three new full-scale power train simulators. Built by engineers at the Caterpillar Technology and Solutions Division in Mossville, Ill., the simulators will integrate and validate the Cat C175 diesel engine and the drive-train components that will put the power to the wheels of each of the six truck models.

"The simulators give Caterpillar parallel development paths with prototype trucks and pilot trucks," says Ed McCord, product manager for large mining trucks. "The simulators effectively improve velocity and responsiveness to field issues and to customer requests."

The two mechanical-drive simulators occupy 3,500 square feet of space, and include the engine, torque converter, drive shaft, transmission and differential, all positioned just as they are on a real truck.

Similarly, the AC electric-drive simulator can, depending on the test, include the engine, alternator, power inverter, retarding grids, cooling system and wheel motors. "The AC electric-drive simulator — the first such simulator to use all of the power-train components just as they are in a truck — enables us to test and resolve issues with our proprietary drive system," says McCord.