Here’s a second post on what engineers do [see my post entitled ‘Press button for exciting ride‘ on March 25th, 2015].
Dr Lou Balmer-Millar leads a team that develops new technology for off-road vehicles. She is Director of Research and Advanced Engineering at Caterpillar Inc. and she gave a keynote talk at the Future Powertrains Conference, which I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. She talked about the innovations that Caterpillar are developing to increase the efficiency of their vehicles. This includes driverless giant trucks. If you are worried about driverless cars then what about driverless 226 tonnes trucks? It is already a reality – watch the Caterpillar video.
However, what stuck in my mind from her presentation was not the enormous mining trucks but the way in which Caterpillar measure the efficiency of their diggers, such as the CAT 366E Hybrid. They are not so much interested in miles per gallon as tonnes of dirt (or muck) shifted per gallon. Efficiency is defined as what you want out of a machine divided by what you have to put in to a machine, or work done for energy supplied [see post entitled ‘Energy efficiency‘ on June 18th, 2014]. So for a passenger car, miles travelled divided by energy used is a reasonable measure of efficiency. But for digger, tonnes of earth moved is what you are want done, so tonnes moved per gallon is the right measure of efficiency. The machine in the picture does not look like anything special but Caterpillar claim it is 30% more efficient than its competitors.
So there is money to be made in shifting earth more efficiently than your competitors. If you enjoy watching machines move earth the watch this video.
Photo credit: Joshua Tucker http://www.apcuk.co.uk/2015/03/future-powertrain-conference-2015-report/