WesTrac chooses Collie for WA automation centre

Cat 789D off-highway truck. Image: WesTrac.

WesTrac is set to build a Western Australian technology training facility in Collie that will focus on providing courses in autonomous operations.

The centre will be the only Caterpillar autonomous training facility in the world apart from the original equipment manufacturer’s own testing and training ground in Arizona, United States.

WesTrac has received a grant from the Western Australian Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation for the project.

The investment includes a fully autonomous Caterpillar 789D off-highway truck, construction of an autonomous operations zone and training room facilities, according to WesTrac chief executive Jarvas Croome.

WesTrac plans to start construction at the greenfield site near the Bluewaters Power Station in Collie this month.

Local contractor Piacentini & Son will carry out the earthworks and installation of key infrastructure, with training scheduled to commence in May.

“The initial focus will be to provide training in fit-out and maintenance requirements for the conversion and operation of existing Caterpillar haulage vehicles,” Croome said.

“Over time, we anticipate expanding the range of courses on offer to ensure the facility caters for the recognised skills development in automation and autonomous operations.”

Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan believes people will come from all over the world to use the facility, the first of its kind in the southern hemisphere and the second worldwide for Caterpillar.

“Crucially, we expect clients to spend time in the town as they undertake their training, supporting local businesses and local jobs,” McGowan said at a ground-turning event yesterday.

“It will see Collie placed at the forefront of training workers – including local workers in Collie – in new technological skills for large-scale mining operations across the state.”

WesTrac evaluated a number of potential locations, but Collie was identified as the ideal centre for the training facility due to its long mining history and experienced workforce to help run and develop the training facility over time, according to Croome.

“WesTrac and Caterpillar clients across the Asia Pacific region had shown significant interest in having access to such training and strong demand was expected when the facility commenced operations,” Croome said.

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