18 February 2012

"So what exactly do you do?"

So when George read my 1st post I said I worked in mining applications engineering and she said "You better tell people what it is you do."  Really?  Won't most people know what that is?  No?  Okay, at risk of boring non technical people, or angering those tree huggers out there, I will briefly explain what it is I do.

Companies that make mining equipment like Komatsu, Hitachi, Liebherr, etc for the most part need big diesel engines to power them.  There are all sorts of requirements when using a diesel engine, air and fuel filtration, restrictions, engine mounting... okay I'm even boring myself now.  Basically, we want to make sure that when they install our engines they aren't doing anything that is going to cause premature failures or wear outs on the engine.  The fun part is in the optimization.  Making sure the engine performs in such a way as to make the machine perform better than other machines, make the operator happy, and the mine equipment manager.  And when there are problems, traveling to the field help understand why and fix them.  And by traveling to the field I mean to the mines.  Big open pit mines for the most part.  I have been to coal mines, copper mines, gold mines (no I didn't get to bring any home), diamond mines (ditto), zinc mines, lead mines, gypsum mines, tar sand mines... okay, you get the idea.  And for the most part these mines are in BFE, aka the middle of nowhere.

The other thing that most people don't realize is how BIG these things are.  The biggest haul trucks can haul 400 tons in one load.  That's like 800 average full sized pickup truck loads.  I'm trying to find a picture to show how big they are that I can share, will default to linking to web pictures.  Komatsu 930E, Hitachi EH5000, Liebherr T282.  The excavators are even more ridiculous, this is the largest hydraulic excavator, the O&K (I refuse to call it Cat) RH400.  When people see this equipment for the first time they usually say some variant of "Holy Shit that thing is big!"  They are basically big toys for big boys.

So that, in a brief, not technical, description, is what I do.  And because mines are in BFE I get to travel to BFE.


  1. Safe travels Clay!!!! I enjoy your blog!


  2. So we are living outside of Rapid City SD right now and there is a whole school and museum Mines and Geology here. There are also lots of mines in the area. Frequently we will be traveling down I-90 and pass an "OVERSIZED LOAD" semi carrying the largest tires anyone has ever seen in their life! Can you imagine the jack it takes to replace a tire on one of those things? Or change the oil? Or any kind of maintenance task?

    I also find the whole diesel engine thing very fascinating. My grandfather was a diesel mechanic. I can't smell diesel fuel without thinking of him and his navy blue coveralls covered in grease and reeking of diesel. Interesting stuff, your blog. Not so much interested in the food as I am in what it is you do!