Caterpillar Releases Dual High-Tech Developments

By Walt Moore, Editor | September 1, 2015

Caterpillar recently launched a “24/7” equipment-operator-monitoring service with the intent, says the company, “to provide customers the power to see, mitigate and manage the primary variable impacting their operations—the human factor.” According to Caterpillar, analysts at the new Fatigue Monitoring Center “correlate health and productivity data from operators and equipment to reveal the magnitude of conditions such as fatigue and distraction and their impact on operations.”

As part of Caterpillar’s Fatigue Risk Management System, which assists machine owners in developing practices to avoid accidents caused by fatigued or distracted operators, the Fatigue Monitoring Center will coordinate information from two primary sources—the Driver Safety System (DSS) and the Cat SmartBand—to continuously assess operator performance.

The DSS, developed by Seeing Machines, a Caterpillar alliance partner, includes an in-cab camera that detects eye closure, duration, and head pose, as well as sensors that detect suspicious events, such as speeding, hard braking, and abrupt swerving. The system immediately alerts the operator to correct potentially dangerous behavior.

The Cat SmartBand is a wrist-worn device powered by Fatigue Science that detects an operator’s sleep intervals and converts the data into an “effectiveness score,” which the operator can view on the device. A score approaching 70 percent is indicative of fatigue impairment. Information from the SmartBand, says Caterpillar, also can be incorporated into the company’s Fatigue Avoidance Scheduling Tool for help in avoiding work schedules that could place operators at increased risk.

The Caterpillar Remote Operator Station for dozing in mining environments allows the operator to run the machine safely removed from the active work area when performing such tasks as working under high-wall formations, edge work, working on unstable ground, leach-pad maintenance, aggressive ripping, and pushing stockpile material to underground feeders.

Available for the Cat D10T, D10T2, D11T, and D11T CD dozers, the remote station is modeled on the actual cab of the machine, with all controls, alarms, and features functioning as they would in the dozer, including special options such as Auto-Carry, Auto-Blade Assist, and Automatic Ripper Control. The system also works with Cat MineStar Terrain technology to include grade-control and avoidance-zone capability.

The remote-station system can be equipped for line-of-sight operation or for tele-remote operation with the addition of video feeds from the site and optional video and audio feeds from the dozer. Control can be quickly and easily switched from one dozer to another, says Caterpillar, enabling one operator to control multiple machines when the work does not require simultaneous operation.

Further benefits of the system, says the company, include making shift changes as simple and fast as one operator taking another’s place in the remote seat, thus maintaining production, and the ability to begin working immediately in a new blasted area, rather than delaying until the air clears. The line-of-sight system is currently available, and the tele-remote system will be available fourth quarter 2015.