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Cattron reinvents its remote control system

Cattron’s New Generation radio remote control system has given compatibility a whole new meaning.

Created for Vale Inco’s fleet of LHDs in its Sudbury mines, this customized universal radio remote control (RRC) system has consolidated up to five non-interchangeable versions of Cattron RRCs.

Bill Goldie, Ontario’s national sales manager for Cattron Group International, described the process as complex because the different software and hardware versions were not compatible with other original equipment manufacturer (OEM) machines.

“It created a situation where they couldn’t use them (RRCs) as spares,” he said. “They couldn’t trade them among the mines or from manufacturer to manufacturer.”

The move to one system was initiated by a Vale Inco Process Hazard Analysis of the remote control mucking process.

Vale Inco’s Richard Riach, all mines mobile fleet coordinator, said a review of the RRC system led to recommendations to upgrade the 10-year-old system.

“Safety is a big issue,” Riach said. “It was a matter of taking RRCs that were based on the best technology 10 or 12 years ago and bringing them up to the most current technology today.”

A team comprised of management and operators sat down in April 2006 and researched available options and features that could be incorporated into the radios in order to develop a best-in-class practice.

“Some of the things we were looking for were system response and reaction time,” Riach explained. “Say the operator trips or stumbles, and lets go of the controls. If we can make the machine stop in three feet instead of six feet, we just made a bigger (safety) margin for anyone in the area.”

Goldie worked closely with Vale Inco’s team on the development of the product. “We had to create a standard that was common among all of the OEMs,” he said. “It was quite a challenge … there were numerous revisions to the machine and radio specifications.”

After a combination of hardware and software changes specific to Vale’s requests, a unique failsafe system was created. It has the capability of operating all of Vale’s 100 LHDs throughout the company’s six Sudbury mines.

Although the consolidation of the unit was a key enhancement, many additional features were incorporated into the system. One example is the special tilt-switch circuits, which shuts down the system if the operator falls or trips, causing the transmitter to tip.

Another feature specific to the Cattron RRC is the function-enabling device. “We call it a push-to-operate bar,” Goldie said, comparing it with a push lawn mower that works during operation, but once released, will stop.

Riach expects the implementation to be completed by year’s end. As of mid-October, the product was performing well.

Pleased with the features this New Generation RRC system offers, Cattron has already begun promoting and selling it to other mines.

“It has a lot of good features and benefits for the operator,” Goldie said.

The Cattron RRC is distributed by Cast Resource Equipment Limited in Sudbury.

www.castresource.com 

www.cattron.com

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