Software developers, data scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs will convene in San Francisco from 23rd-25th September 2016 for a 54-hour ‘hackathon’ sponsored by Caterpillar and Unearthed, an Australia-based open innovation organisation for the global resources sector. The hackathon format brings together creative problem solvers and industry experts who work in teams under intense time pressure to propose prototype solutions to industry challenges.
“The Unearthed organisation has inspired more than 1,000 innovators to attack problems in the global resources sector, and in the process, at least 150 promising solutions have been produced,” said Roberto Ortega, Innovation Incubator, Caterpillar. “We’re excited to put that kind of energy and imagination to work on behalf of our customers.”
Among the innovations emerging from Unearthed events are novel sensors and analytics for preventing oversize material from blocking the crushers on iron ore sites, predictive algorithms that dramatically reduce the need for lab sampling, and wearable devices that improve workplace safety. Some of the mining and oil & gas companies taking advantage of this approach include BHP Billiton, Iluka Resources, Newcrest, Rio Tinto and Woodside.
“The global resources sector faces unprecedented pressure to improve the efficiency and sustainability of its operations, and at the same time it will see nearly $1 trillion of impact from new technologies in the decade ahead,” explained Justin Strharsky, director of Unearthed. “We are helping industry adapt by creating opportunities for entrepreneurs.”
The task at hand
In San Francisco, Caterpillar will challenge hackathon participants to propose innovative ways to use telematics data and real-time coaching to improve surface mining truck operator performance.
“Operator technique has a profound effect on productivity, fuel efficiency, component life and operating costs,” explained Tony Johnson, marketing manager for Caterpillar Global Mining, Surface Mining & Technology Division. “Our customers spend a lot of time and resources on traditional training activities, but we believe we can augment their work with data, analytics and real-time feedback.”
Using several large datasets from Caterpillar, hackathon participants will spend the weekend exploring how the information could be used to improve operator performance, predict potential problems, reward desired behavior and reduce machine misuse. Caterpillar subject matter experts will be on hand to provide industry perspective.
At the end of the session, teams will have five minutes to present their ideas and five minutes to respond to questions from a panel of judges. Cash prizes will be awarded for the top prototypes. The first-place team will be featured in a video shown at MINExpo 2016, the world’s premier mining equipment and technology exhibition.
“We expect that the solutions provided by the hackathon participants will be applicable to surface and underground mining equipment,” Ortega said. “In the spirit of innovation, the solutions are likely to be applicable to most types of heavy equipment and not limited to mining applications.”
“The hackathon is just one more way we’re putting the latest tools, processes and ideas to work for Caterpillar customers—helping them improve safety, increase production efficiency and reduce costs,” Johnson concluded.