Cat excavators get remote-control capability, potentially easing worker shortage

By Jenny LescohierAugust 11, 2021

Cat Command for Excavating provides remote-control operation for select Cat excavators

Six Cat excavators can now be equipped with remote control technology in either line-of-sight or non-line-of-sight operating configurations.

Cat’s new remote-control solution - Cat Command for Excavating - is available on excavator models 320, 323, 326, 330, 336 and 340, which span the 20 to 40 metric ton class sizes.

The technology is meant to improve safe machine operation in potentially hazardous environments by removing the operator from the machine, while also reducing operator fatigue and increasing productivity. 

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 mounted on top of the cab to minimize the risk of damage.

Integrated with the excavator’s electronics, Command controls are designed to allow users to experience the same machine response as if they were operating from inside the cab, allowing productivity to be maintained from a safe distance.

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 can be switched between remote and manual operation via a ground-level switch.

With operators controlling dig, lift and tracking functions from a safe location, Command for Excavating enables production to restart immediately following disruptive processes, such as blasting in quarry applications. It could also improve safety and machine productivity on a range of projects like operating in unstable underfoot conditions, brownfields, shore work, demolition and more.

More productivity with fewer workers

Command for Excavating offers a potential solution to workforce shortages by opening opportunities to those with physical limitations that prevent them from climbing into the equipment, 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.

Eliminating fatigue-inducing vibration of machine movements at the site, the customized Command station reflects the cab environment and positions operators in a familiar, 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 operator provide a view of the excavator’s camera displays, while touchscreen monitors similar to the in-cab display offer machine control.

Remote operating options for excavators

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

Offering machine control from up to 437 yards away, the console controls all excavator functions with virtually no response delay. 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 job site, operators can control up to five different machines at a single location or different sites from one station.

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