Finning’s remote control solution for UK’s Harsco
Finning's new Caterpillar 316E remote control excavator for Harsco
Finning, the exclusive UK Caterpillar dealer, has now supplied its second remote control machine to metals and minerals specialists Harsco. The Cat 316E Excavator can be fully operated from up to 80 metres away. The remote control functionality is one of a number of bespoke features Finning has delivered for Harsco, due to the intense conditions of the application.
Harsco first came to Finning with the proposition of a remote control machine at the end of 2013. The task: providing an operator with the ability to control the machine from 20 metres away. This enables the operators to clean ladles containing molten steel safely, as the job is too dangerous for a driver to be within the vehicle’s cab.
Finning territory sales manager Patrick Emmerson was confident the dealer could produce the solution. “Having been working on the Harsco account for 20 years now, covering all their sites in the North East region, I was determined that we could find the answer,” said Emmerson. “After briefing the team engineers in the Leeds’ branch workshop, it was decided that the Cat 316E Excavator was the best machine for the job. We managed to integrate the first fully functional remote control system within a month of receiving the remote control parts.”
“The success of the first machine was such that Harsco requested a second one towards the end of 2014. The workshop engineers are now very comfortable with the technology, which meant that thanks to the more streamlined process the second fully remote control Cat 316E was ready in three weeks.”
So how did Finning acquire the technology enabling this to happen? Daniel Avison, Workshop Supervisor at Finning Leeds, explained: “We approached Koppen & Lethem, specialists at providing remote control solutions for cranes and other hydraulic machines. We briefed the specs of the Cat 316E and together planned how the systems will integrate in line with the machine’s functionality needs. Koppen & Lethem then manufactured the Scanreco remote control console and the Faber receiver unit.
“Once these components were sent to us, we fitted and synchronised all aspects of the remote control system to the Cat machine here at Leeds. We also worked closely with John Boden in the Finning Hydraulic Services department to deliver and install all of the fire-resistant hydraulic hoses and fittings. It was a real team effort. The first time round required a lot of prototyping, with trial and error playing a big part in coming up with the full solution.”
Ryan Spalding, workshop engineer at Finning Leeds, responsible for much of the work on the Cat 316E, said of the technological process of the remote controlling: “When the operator moves one of the leavers on the remote control unit it triggers a signal that is sent to the control box. The control box in turn sends power to the solenoids, actuating the hydraulic valves that drive the machine’s mechanics. The machine is as operational as it would be if you were driving from the cab: from controlling the bucket motion, to powering the tracking, to slew rotation.”
The bespoke modifications and additions Finning provided for Harsco go beyond the remote control system. The Cat 316E’s boom was extended due to the depths of the pots and ladles it will be working with. Fire resistant wrapping was used to cover the hydraulic hoses and fire proof covering for the LED lights were utilised due to the intense heat of the steelworks application. A cab guard was also fitted to protect the cab windscreen.
Emmerson closed by stating: “We’re very proud to have executed the remote control solution for Harsco, especially as we’ve supplied a second machine within 12 months of the initial enquiry. Remote control is an exciting prospect and I see a big future for it. There’s definitely scope for it being utilised within other industries, in particular within the demolition sector, as many sites are hazardous for machine operators. It’s a great credit to Harsco for driving this innovation, I’m just pleased Finning could deliver it.”