Caterpillar steps up in digital age

Image courtesy Caterpillar

Advancements in technology have always driven construction forward. Without the advent of heavy equipment, for example, laborers would still be excavating sites and digging trenches with shovels. And Caterpillar, the Deerfield, IL-based company that makes products like excavators, backhoes, tractors, turbines is also being transformed by the digital age.

The company is a whole new meaning to “machine learning.”

Take, for example, the autonomous mining truck. While Tesla and other carmakers are perfecting autonomous cars, mining equipment doesn’t have to navigate public roadways, and Caterpillar has been working on autonomous mining for 30 years. To date, it has built 280 autonomous mining trucks that have hauled more than 2 billion tons with no injuries.

Their “Cat Command” suite of products offers remote-control operation of such tasks as bulldozing. While that may sound a little sci-fi-ish, it can keep human drivers out of potentially dangerous situations. They can switch to remote operation and avoid falling off a cliff or into a quarry.

The company is also using machine learning to predict downtime and mechanical problems with its equipment. Using data they have collected, the machine-learning models and sensors can alert a customer before a piece of equipment fails, saving time and money.

At 95 years old, Caterpillar is still on the cutting edge of construction technology.