Caterpillar, Machine Control & Positioning, Meet the expert, Remote control

A new way to work

Cat® Command remote control technology is helping to combat the heavy equipment operator shortage, and enabling operators to build engaging careers as heavy equipment system managers.

As the equipment operator shortage continues, remotely controlled equipment offers a promising solution.

Dan Hellige, Caterpillar Worldwide Marketing Manager for Construction & Digital Technologies, is excited about the ability remote control technologies have to help attract and retain a generation of operators to the construction industry.

Additionally, Cat Command technologies enhance safety in hazardous work environments and help to increase productivity.

Remote operators can avoid potential injury from climbing on and off large pieces of equipment.

Reaping the benefits of working on a remote jobsite

As Dan describes, “With remotely controlled equipment, there’s no need to gear up in layers of personal protective equipment (PPE), or even put on a coat in inclement weather. Operators won’t step onto a muddy, cold, and potentially hazardous jobsite. They’ll walk into what amounts to an office environment – warm, quiet, well lit, with restrooms and amenities close at hand.

“And instead of climbing on and off of large pieces of equipment – when the vast majority of lost-time injuries occur – our operators will take a floor-level seat in front of an array of video screens.

“The remote video feed usually offers better views to the work area than are available from the cab of the machine. Once in motion, there’s no jarring motion, vibration, or dust to contend with, and task automation features such as grade control help them deliver high-quality results.

“At the end of their shift, our operators go home clean, with little fatigue, ready to spend quality time away from work. As one remote operator put it, ‘Now I can shower before work instead of after’ which is a great way to look at it.”

You can easily see how this experience can help to attract and retain quality operators.

The ability to swiftly switch between machines and locations minimises operator downtime.

Retaining experienced heavy equipment operators

One of the early adopters of long-distance remote control equipment, Louisiana’s Associated Terminals operates a number of barge terminals along the banks of the lower Mississippi River. The company lowers dozers and excavators into the three-story deep holds of huge river barges to assist unloading operations.

Just getting on to each barge poses substantial dangers for operators. So, the company instituted a “no-boots-on-the-barge” policy, aided by Cat Command remote control technology. While the machines consolidate material in the holds, the operators work from a central office on shore.

Among the advantages of this arrangement, the operators don’t have to drive between the various terminal locations, which stretch across nearly 200km of river bank. They can easily and instantly switch between machines and locations to minimise operator downtime.

Another benefit, working remotely allows experienced operators to extend their careers. When one employee was put on light duty after a foot injury, he was able to resume working full shifts from his remote operator station.

This example demonstrates another way long-distance remote control can help alleviate the equipment operator shortage. Helping to retain existing operators reduces turnover, minimises training costs, and enables your company to leverage the invaluable experience of your best operators.

To learn more about Cat Command, click here.


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