Rolling out a new rig

IT SEEMED Caterpillar did not know what to do with the range of Unit Rig trucks it inherited when it bought Bucyrus about a year ago. Then came the MT5300D. Supply Side by Noel Dyson
Rolling out a new rig Rolling out a new rig Rolling out a new rig Rolling out a new rig Rolling out a new rig

Caterpillar's latest edition to the Unit Rig family.

Noel Dyson

Big Yellow rolled out the 290-tonne capacity AC mining truck at Minexpo.

The truck fits into the Caterpillar range, between the 227-tonne capacity 793F and the 327t 795F AC truck.

The truck builds on Unit Rig’s 50 years of electric-drive mining experience.

Interestingly, the MT5300D uses the Caterpillar AC electric drive train that has been used in the 795F AC.

The 795F AC was launched four years ago, at the previous Minexpo.

So it appears Caterpillar has worked out a plan for its Unit Rig trucks.

Last year, Caterpillar decided to bring forward the absorption of the Bucyrus business.

It was decided all of the Bucyrus equipment would be repainted yellow and given Caterpillar nomenclature. Shovels, longwalls, draglines, shuttlecars, continuous miners – they all became Caterpillar devices.

All, that is, except the Unit Rig trucks.

Here, Caterpillar had a conundrum.

Caterpillar product manager for large trucks and shovels Ed McCord has a healthy respect for the Unit Rig brand.

McCord, a self-confessed truck geek, speaks in glowing terms of the advancements Unit Rig made with the trucks.

It was running electric-drive trucks long before most others. It even had one of the very first autonomous truck programs.

However, the company languished due to a lack of resources.

So why not just whack a Caterpillar badge on it like all the other pieces of Bucyrus gear?

For Caterpillar, it was not that simple. It was a branding issue.

Caterpillar did not make longwalls or draglines or drills or large mining shovels. But it does make trucks, with a great deal of its brand value in those trucks.

With the Unit Rig trucks, it was taking on a package it had no input into.

One of the options McCord foreshadowed was to swap out the Unit Rig parts over time with Caterpillar parts.

With the 5300D, it has integrated a Cat C175-16 engine and Cat 360TAC electric-drive system.

It also has the electric-drive system that propels the 795F AC.

That system features dynamic retarding capacity combined with four-corner wet disc brakes.

The MT5300D also gets a ROPS cab, wide-access stairways, traction control and quiet radial retarder grid with wide right-side visibility.

It also has simple hydraulic systems, modular components, a hydraulic gauge cabinet, grouped service locations, engine bay service walkways and more ground-accessible maintenance points.

These all make for easier maintenance, less downtime and enhanced safety for technicians.

An MT5300D AC is being tested at the Caterpillar proving grounds in Arizona.

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