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Remote Control: New Steps in Mining

Over the past few years, remote wiring companies have been trying to develop a crawler tractor that would fit mining purposes, but also be remotely controllable.

This comes as a particular priority with Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) installing new regulations concerning operators in the field.

MSHA’s regulations have never been anything but a challenge to the industry and the latest follows the path of its predecessors: issued alongside a safety alert, MSHA’s new regulation stresses the dangers of having an operator behind the wheel of a dozer that pushes coarse coal refuse into a tailings pond. It comes after a serious accident with an operator who was left with severe injuries after the dozer he was in, drove into the entrance, throwing the operator through the windshield. This prompted MSHA to reconsider safety measures of the working environment.

While there have been remotely controlled tractors, drillers and dozers before, the big breakthrough came when Caterpillar’s D8R dozer was wired with a remote. Other companies had been looking to do the same for months, yet deemed it impossible due to D8R’s mechanical parts and overall complexity. Now Remote Control Technologies (RCT) have announced that they have managed to install their ControlMaster system. This not only abides by MSHA’s new regulation, but renews a 15-year-old machine with the use of modern technology.

This development combines efficiency with safety in the mining industry, a point that has been a significant concern within the workers as well as employers themselves. It also shows how mining can take advantage of today’s innovations. D8R’s equipment with remote technology shows that even combinations thought to be impossible can be done, inspiring technology companies to come up with similar solutions in the future.