Making it all possible: Caterpillar

Caterpillar’s Ayden Piri explains how the company’s unique solutions are solving its customers’ complex challenges across heavy-duty and often dangerous waste applications. 

In the sweltering 700˚C heat, steelmakers separate molten steel from impurities within furnaces. An abrasive by-product known as slag is produced that carries with it additional challenges around safe on-site management. 

Site operators have been turning to Caterpillar (CAT) for a solution in this area and many others. The company’s 100-year old history is rooted in testing, problem solving, innovation and continuous improvement. 

Its enterprise strategy has focused on finding solutions to help its customers improve the efficiency and safety of their operations through an information-driven approach.

With a global network of 172 dealers servicing 192 of the world’s countries, factories in 30 countries and more than 10,000 CAT and dealer employees in Australia and New Zealand alone, the extensive reach ensures it is able to draw on a network of experts to solve its customer’s challenges.

One way the company does this is using data analytics to ensure customer machines are running at maximum performance. 

According to Ayden Piri, Industry Specialist-Account Manager Asia Pacific at Caterpillar Inc, the company’s sales, application and product teams work tirelessly together to make their customer’s unique requirements possible. 

“As the first point of contact, the sales team will collect the data and sit down with the CAT team and product specialists and put together a solution unique to the customer’s needs,” he says.

“Our ability to support customers with serviceable parts and support is another thing. We try to not only come up with a solution but look after customers into the long term. That is the value CAT brings to the table.”  

Once CAT understands its customer’s requirements and their expected application, it sizes the machine and tools required for the task. 

As one example of customisation, Ayden says that CAT’s slag handling solution was one the company came up with decades ago.

CAT’s steel mill package was designed to tolerate extreme jobsite conditions with operator safety, improved reliability and durability front and centre. The machine can be used on wheel loaders from CAT’s 950M model all the way up to 972M. 

The package includes machine guarding, heavy duty b-pins, heavy duty steel mill cabs, ground level brake override and a range of other benefits. 

Machine guarding incorporates a tilt cylinder guard, variable position lights with guarding, steel implement valve cover and hitch guards. The front frame guard provides axle protection, while the hinged powertrain guard works to ease maintenance compared to a standard bolt guard.

“The tools we’ve designed can endure extreme heat and abrasiveness of the slag and deliver productivity and efficiency targets safely,” Ayden says. 

Another industry-first solution CAT developed is its corrosion-resistant package for wheel loaders, such as the CAT966M to improve reliability and durability in demanding environments. The package was designed for humid and toxic sites and aimed at fertiliser plants, chemical industries and the agriculture sector.

“Machines in humid conditions tend to rust quite fast and that impacts machine uptime,” Ayden explains.

“When you’re dealing with corrosive and highly toxic environments, a machine has to have multiple protective layers which requires a unique manufacturing approach.”

Ayden says the corrosion package is a well-researched kit for global markets that protects the cab and electrical, hydraulic and cooling systems and painting. He says this prevents any moisture penetrating the system. 

On the cab panel, the ECM and fuse box retard the corrosion process, with vapour capsules working in enclosed spaces to emit vapor corrosion inhibiting molecules that protect metal surfaces. Paint thickness more than twice that of standard paint offers resistance against corrosion. Silicon protection is applied on the electrical terminals, disconnector switch, engine ground cable and battery cables to maximise component life. 

Two years ago, the Australian-first machine was deployed to a customer in Geraldton, WA, using the kit in its fertiliser processing. 

In the residential waste sector, CAT boasts a range of medium waste handlers to support its customers. 

“When you’re working in residential waste, you’re dealing with a lot of unknown material during handling and that basically impacts machine’s lifecycle and availability,” Ayden explains.

To protect its customers, CAT devised an industrial package with an optional heavy duty radiator guard to provide additional rear machine protection. Depending on the level of protection required, three optional guards are available to protect the guard from damage in difficult waste applications.  

With distribution centres across Australia offering 24-hour parts availability, Ayden says that Caterpillar will continue to apply its lean innovation principles to solve even the most ardous of tasks.

FAST FACT: 

CAT’s industrial package comprises a range of features for productivity, versatility, ease of operation and serviceability. The optimised Z-bar linkage on the 950M and 962M provide improved visibility due to hydraulic hose placement and structural components. The main hydraulic valve uses a mono-block design to reduce weight with 40 per cent fewer leak points. Attachments can be swapped quickly with a fusion coupler for one common interface across small and medium wheel loaders. High capacity buckets are suited for loading, sorting and other transfer work.