Cat expands remote operation to excavators

New CAT® Command for Excavating provides remote-control operation for select CAT excavators. Removing the operator from the machine in potentially hazardous operating environments, Command for Excavating looks to facilitate safe machine operation, while reducing operator fatigue to increase productivity.

Six CAT excavators spanning the 20 to 40 metric ton class sizes —Cat 320, 323, 326, 330, 336 and 340 models—can now be equipped with either line-of-sight or non-line-of-sight remote operating configurations.

CAT excavators are made Command-ready through a dealer-installed field kit for new or existing fleet machines. The kit features multiple cameras for non-line-of-sight operation from the Command station that offer a view of the area surrounding the machine, plus the ability to stream on-site video feeds. Alongside the cameras, indicator lights, microphone, wireless receiver and antenna are all mounted on top of the cab in an attempt to minimize the risk of damage.

Integrated with the excavator’s electronics, Command controls looks to allow users to experience the same machine response as if they were operating from inside the cab. Machine technology features such as Grade Assist, Swing Assist and E-Fence can also be set, activated and deactivated remotely without the need to be set manually from inside the cab. Excavators are switched between remote and manual operation via a ground-level switch.

Command for Excavating enables production to restart immediately following disruptive processes, such as blasting in quarry applications.  CAT claims that it also enhances safety and improves machine productivity on a range of projects like operating in unstable underfoot conditions, brownfields, shore work, demolition and site decommissioning and stevedoring.


Flexible control

Command for Excavating offers a solution to workforce shortages by opening opportunities to those with physical limitations that prevent them from climbing into the equipment, with the hope of attracting a new generation of worker and increasing the longevity of experienced operators. Removing the operator from the cab also offers training advantages for newer operators.

The Command system includes two different remote operating options. For temporary, or emergency, remote operation with no on-site communications infrastructure required, the Command console offers line-of-site machine control through a lightweight, compact console, supported by a shoulder harness.

The console offers machine control from up to 437 yd (400 m). Built-in safety features stop all excavator movements if the remote shutdown switch is pressed, wireless communication is lost, or the console is tilted more than 45 degrees from normal operating position.

The new Command station provides non-line-of-sight operation from an office on-site or many miles away, as distance is limited only by the capabilities of the wireless network. Reducing downtime for shift changes or the need to travel to the jobsite, operators can control up to five different machines at a single or different sites from one station.

Eliminating vibration of machine movements at the site, the customized Command station reflects the cab environment and positions users in a seated position that simulates traditional machine control. Station design includes joystick and foot pedal controls to operate all the company’s Command-ready equipment.

Universal screen mounts positioned in front of the user provide easy view of the excavator’s camera displays, while touchscreen monitors similar to the in-cab display offers machine control.