Firstgreen remote operated skid steer hopes to cut mining deaths

Mining fatalities climbed more than 30 percent from 2022 to 2023, with construction fatalities also continuing to rise. In a bid to help keep miners safe, FIRSTGREEN Industries has launched a new line of cabinless, remote operated skid steers designed specifically for use in critical mining operations.

We covered the copmany’s first cabinless electric loader, the Elise CBL, back in January. The CBL (for “Clean Building Logistics”) is designed to enable fully remote operation, reducing the risk of operator injury or exposure to hazardous materials like asbestos and radiation in high-risk demolition environments. And, because it’s electric, it can do so without adding diesel exhaust emissions (themselves a known carcinogen) to the list of hazards faced by its operators. Now, FIRSTGREEN is offering that same functionality to underground miners with the new ROCKEAT equipment line.

“We are thrilled to introduce ROCKEAT skid steers to the US market, which represents a significant leap forward in safety and sustainability for traditionally dangerous, high-emission industries like construction and mining,” Marcus Suess, COO of FIRSTGREEN Industries, told Construction Equipment Guide. “With continued national support to accelerate the expansion of critical mineral mining projects on home soil … addresses pressing environmental concerns but also contributes to the resurgence of homegrown industry.”

Available in big and bigger

Designed with a low clearance, 360-degree camera and remote operability, ROCKEAT machines redefine safety and efficiency in critical mining, construction and other hazardous industries; via FIRSTGREEN Industries.

The ROCKEAT comes in two models. Designated 700 and 1200, the two models are 67 in. and 71 in. wide, respectively, and available with either lead-acid or lithium-ion batteries. Max power output is 3 36.2 hp motors generating a maximum torque of 3 x 89 lb-ft of torque, with load capacities of 1,500 and 3,300 lbs., respectively. Charging is accomplished using standard 110v or 220v outlets, or by swapping batteries on the fly.

In both cases, the key feature is remote operation. The ROCKEAT machines can be operated via the standard, Danfoss-developed remote cabin, or the FIRSTGREEN mobile app for a quick backup solution, regardless of whether that’s a “I just need to back it up a few feet,” or, “Oh my God! It’s killing Kenny!” scenario.

Electrek’s Take

FIRSTGREEN quotes the US Bureau of Labor Statistics report saying that, of the 484 workplace fatalities reported in 2022, some 75 percent involved heavy equipment operators. By reducing the amount of noise in a mine with electrified equipment, and putting the operators far enough away to keep them out of harm’s way, the ROCKEAT may just be able to do what its makers say: keep workers a little bit safer.

To that end, FIRSTGREEN’s efforts to beef up the Elise and move into the mining space should be of great interest to companies like Caterpillar and Liebherr, who are also working to electrify their mining equipment offerings. Whether or not the upstart equipment brand will be able to establish a beachhead with its cabinless, remote-operated machinery and clever, practical, battery-swap technology remains to be seen.

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