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2020 / 2021 Edition

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Cat Connect insights keep things running

Cat 745 ADT

Caterpillar dealers Finning UK and Ireland outline the advantages of machines that phone home

ANYONE who has recently insured a vehicle will have probably heard of the black box. Installed on some insured cars, these devices monitor how the car is driven and report that information back to the insurance company. This information is used to encourage safe driving and to capture vital data in the event of an accident.

While installing a black box in a car is relatively cheap, managing downtime, breakdowns and user profiles across a highly varied fleet of construction equipment can be costly. However, the use of digital connectivity to catch the early warning signs of failure is critical in maintaining safety when working with construction machines and can help avoid costly breakdowns and unplanned downtime.

Unlike the black box, Finning’s solution – Cat Connect – combines the use of smart technology and services on equipped machines, making sure everything is running as effectively and reliably as possible. The insight and information received helps to improve jobsite efficiency, whether the goal is to maximize production, reduce cost or improve safety.

When installed on Finning Cat equipment, Cat Connect records every parameter on a Cat machine and reports the information back to Finning headquarters, where a technical team of experienced Cat-certified engineers will work through the data and look for any problems and opportunities for optimization.

For instance, a few minutes of idle time for a dumptruck may be necessary during loading and unloading, but a backhoe operator who keeps the engine running during a lunch break may cause bore glazing on the diesel engine. Also, if a machine is running idle it is incurring extra fuel, maintenance and staffing costs for no real benefit – the team at Finning can spot issues like this and advise appropriate action.

Similarly, if an engine is running rough, perhaps it has been unused for a while and the fuel has gone stale, or the fuel mixture is misconfigured for the type of work or weather conditions. Again, the team at Finning will identify these problems and can advise users to replace the fuel or alter the fuel mix to compensate.

Cat Connect devices also include GPS, which allows engineers to track the machines as they move around the worksite. This also allows for geofencing, where an alarm is triggered if equipment is moved outside a designated area.

In one such instance, Finning engineers were alerted by a geofencing alarm in the middle of the night. Using the GPS tracker on Cat Connect, the machine was successfully tracked and retrieved the next day from a secluded lay-by, more than 20 miles away from the worksite. Without Cat Connect and its real-time alarms and customer-configurable alerting capabilities via text or emails, it is unlikely that the machine would have been recovered, especially if it was stripped for parts.

Real-time condition monitoring not only helps to predict failure and keep equipment running, but it can also uncover some surprising systemic problems.

One particular example was on a worksite that had a substantial hill that earthmoving equipment often traversed. Going up the incline was no trouble for the heavy equipment, but it was found through condition monitoring that the operators were allowing their vehicles to coast when travelling back down.

By not using the retarder correctly, the operators were inadvertently exposing the powertrain to extreme stresses. Finning advised the customer that this was a problem, and the operators were retrained to use the retarder correctly and safely. This action directly increased the working life of the equipment, saved thousands of pounds in costs and eliminated potential downtime.

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