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Case study: Teamwork improves Cat face shovel productivity

A desire to improve pass matching from four to three passes when loading a 400-tonne truck with a Cat 7495 electric rope shovel has led to an innovative ground engaging tool (GET) solution being developed by a US coal mine and Caterpillar.

Alpha Coal West is a mine located in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin — the largest coal mining area in the United States — and has been using Cat equipment for four decades.

Recently, however, Alpha general manager Ken Ferguson decided it was time to make good on an idea that would save both time and money.

“We came up with an idea several years ago about taking a 7495 to the next step and creating a better ultra-class shovel that would pass-match with the 797 [Large Mining Truck],” Ferguson says.

Put simply, the Caterpillar Global Mining team developed an electric rope shovel dipper and ground engaging tools system that Alpha validated with the help of Cat dealer Wyoming Machinery Company. It enables Alpha to load more coal in less time, significantly improving productivity.

“The test had its ups and downs, but Caterpillar came back to the design table with all the data, and addressed all the issues,” Wyoming Machinery product support sales representative Kent Bowker says.

Alpha Coal West lead field maintenance technician Terry Lien says Alpha helped Caterpillar further refine the X-4 system on the redesigned dipper, adding: “I bet we’ve cut our time in half replacing teeth and adapters because of the time we spent developing and going through the process.”

The Cat 7495 HD electric rope shovel has a net weight of 972.5 tonnes, which increases to 1,306 tonnes working weight with dipper and standard links. The standard dipper payload is 81.8 tonnes, from a capacity of 19.1 to 61.2 cubic metres.

It uses AC electricity, which Cat says has a number of clear benefits over DC machines, including greater reliability, availability and efficiency, plus higher speeds due to an absence of commutation limits. This enables AC machines to operate with a greater area under the speed torque curve, which translates to faster lowering speeds and reduced swing times.

The Cat 7495 HD operated by Alpha Coal West is branded Bucyrus, which Cat acquired in 2011.

Click here to find Caterpillar face shovels for sale.



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