getting the most out of machines
When a piece of equipment comes to the end of its life cycle, it’s important to know how and when to replace it. For the team at Evolution Mining, Lake Cowal, it recently came time to make such a decision. Dozer 501 – a Cat D10T model, and one of the open-cut gold mine’s oldest and hardest-working pieces of equipment – has just been retired and replaced. But that’s after an impressive 76,000 hours of operation and almost 15 years on the job.
“Cowal operates a fleet of four Cat D10T dozers, and the retirement of Dozer 501 is the first of three planned replacements over the next three years,” explains Ray Miller, Senior Engineer at Evolution Mining. “It is a testament to the machine, all those that have operated it, and all that have maintained it over its life that it has achieved such a high number of hours.”
As Ray suggests, Dozer 501’s long and fruitful life can be attributed to a combination of factors. First and foremost, there’s the fact that Cat equipment is designed for the long haul. The Caterpillar brand is known around the globe for the durability and inherent rebuild capacity of its equipment. Accordingly, as one of the largest Cat dealerships in the world, WesTrac’s priority is developing long-term partnerships with customers to provide support throughout the life of every piece of machinery.
“We want to make sure our customers get the most out of the machine and the whole life cycle,” says Jody Scott, WesTrac’s General Manager of Underground and Surface Mining (NSW/ACT). “And we’re there when the machine comes to the end of its life cycle to assist the customer in selecting what replacement equipment is required for the next stage of their operation.”
The longevity of Dozer 501 – and indeed, of all Lake Cowal’s machinery – reflects one such long-term connection. Evolution and WesTrac’s successful partnership has formed a framework for the future of the Cowal fleet, right from the beginning. “Throughout the mine’s life, WesTrac has been involved in the rebuilding of the primary mining fleet,” Ray Miller continues. “This has seen the fleet operate with high availability, excellent operational effectiveness, and low operating costs.”
WesTrac’s Jody Scott agrees. “Evolution, WesTrac and Caterpillar have had a very strong relationship for quite some time, both from a product and technology and a support aspect,” he says. “Based on that relationship, Evolution has achieved the lowest cost per tonne not only on this piece of equipment, but all their equipment. This level of performance helps Evolution with their decision-making regarding their future replacement strategy is.”
In the next part, we take a look at the technology system Evolution uses to achieve the lowest cost per tonne. We also dive into how and why Cat dozers are built to be rebuilt.