Cat’s first diesel electric underground LHD loader

The new Cat R2900 diesel electric XE LHD
The new Cat R2900 diesel electric XE LHD

Caterpillar has developed its first diesel electric underground load-haul-dump (LHD) loader. 

The new Cat R2900 XE LHD meets the underground mining industry’s needs for bigger payloads, faster loading and reduced emissions. Built on the platform of Caterpillar’s most popular underground loader, the R2900 XE features an optimized lift arm and component geometry as well as load-sensing hydraulics to improve breakout force by 35 per cent, compared to the Cat R2900G. 

The R2900 XE delivers 52 per cent faster acceleration and improved machine response compared to the R2900G. The LHD accelerates from 0 to 24 km/h in 6.4 seconds and achieves a 7 per cent higher speed on grade. 

Variable piston pumps deliver higher flow rates for faster hydraulic cylinder cycle times and powerful lift forces. Boasting an 18.5-tonne payload for faster load times, the new LHD model offers a three to four-pass match to the Cat AD63 truck. Combined, these features deliver a 20 per cent increase in productivity for the R2900 XE. 

Redesigned bucket

The loader’s redesigned buckets are available in four sizes with capacities ranging from 7.4 to 9.8 cubic metres. Offering an optimized balance between productivity and bucket life, the full range of Cat ground engaging tools includes modular weld-on, bolt-on half Aarrow and Durilock mechanically attached shrouds. To further protect the bucket, a range of heel shrouds, wear plates and bars are available in weld-on or mechanically attached designs.

The R2900 XE is powered by the Cat C15 engine, which offers a variety of emission reduction and aftertreatment options, including Stage V and EPA Tier 4 Final configuration and diesel particulate filter. It delivers up to 449 hp with a 31 per cent increase in fuel efficiency. Its lower engine rpm results in reduced fuel burn, heat, noise, vibration and exhaust emissions, while offering an increase in power and productivity. 

High-efficiency electric drive 

The new R2900 XE LHD features a proven switch reluctance electric drive system designed by Caterpillar. Its continuously variable speed control delivers improved power and cycle times. With no driveline or powertrain shock loads, it offers smoother directional changing and implemented virtual gears for machine controllability. As well, the drive system prevents coasting in neutral and combines with the anti-rollback feature to further increase operating safety.

Its new axle design offers increased component size, and together with the four-gear planetary final drive groups, provides greater strength and longer life. Larger wheel bearings and increased brake sizing further increase final drive life. 

Built to withstand the forces of high torque and impact loads, the differentials and final drives provide high torque multiplication to reduce drivetrain stress. The traction control system reduces tire spin in difficult underfoot conditions to improve productivity, increase tire life and reduce consumable costs. 

Next-gen LHD operator cab

The next-generation operator environment is built on the successful R1700 platform. The cab’s enclosed design provides fresh, pressurized, temperature-controlled air circulation. Mounted to the frame, the ROPS/FOPS structures isolate the operator from vibration for a more comfortable ride. 

Combining selection of direction, virtual gears and steering into a single lever, standard STIC steering and transmission integrated control delivers maximum responsiveness and machine control. Low-effort, electric-over-hydraulic joystick controls feature simultaneous lift and tilt functions to optimize operating efficiency. 

Scalable tech 

The new R2900 XE ships from the factory ready for Cat MineStar solutions, the industry’s most comprehensive suite of technology. From machine health monitoring to fully automated haul and dump cycles, scalable levels of technologies can be tailored to meet each mine’s requirements. Standard Product Link Elite boosts machine connectivity by enabling the loader to collect and transmit health and condition monitoring information into locally or cloud-hosted applications. 

Mines can also select a range of available MineStar technologies, including: 

Command for underground: enables remote operation of LHD machines, from line-of-sight to full autonomy. 

Detect for underground: uses peer-to-peer proximity detection to reduce the risk of unintended interactions between people and machines by “seeing” in the dark. 

Fleet for underground: gives real-time access to accurate information such as cycle time, payload and machine position, and automatically tracks and records data up and down the value chain. 

Health: collects and transmits equipment data necessary for proactive maintenance services and predictive equipment analysis. 

Caterpillar’s new Autodig technology optimizes loading by automating crucial parts of the digging cycle. When combined with Command for underground, Autodig offers a true automated machine, providing high-speed auto tramming and full cycle autonomy. 

Built for the long haul

With more robust structures, increased powertrain durability, longer lasting components, improved maintenance and extended service intervals, the new R2900 XE can be maintained in less time, helping to lower cost-per-ton operation. 

The machine’s electric drive reduces the number of moving parts compared to traditional mechanical drive systems. Extended oil change intervals, together with the electric drivetrain, reduces the number of oils used. 

As well, sight gauges are visible from ground level to simplify fluid level checks, and all filters are positioned vertically to provide spill-free servicing. Electrical connectors are sealed to lock out dust and moisture, while harnesses are covered for protection.