New-generation Product Link system from Caterpillar® improves asset utilization and reduces operating costs
- 11 July 2007
- Product News
Product Link gathers data from a machine's on-board systems and transmits it wirelessly to Caterpillar's network operations center. Information is then delivered to the machine owner's desktop. With fast, easy access to machine information, earthmoving equipment owners can optimize asset utilization, reduce security risks, improve maintenance management and implement before-failure repair strategies. The result is more up-time, lower operating costs and a higher overall return on the equipment investment.
The new Product Link architecture features a modular design that includes a satellite communicator (PL121SR) and a separate electronic control module (PL300 ECM). Equipment owners who require basic asset management information, such as machine operating hours and location, can utilize a stand-alone PL121SR. Those who want access to additional machine health and productivity information need both components, which are available as a complete package as PL321SR. Whatever the choice, both Product Link models have been designed to work in the world's harshest environments with the same ruggedness and durability for which Caterpillar is known.
The new PL121SR and PL321SR models separate the computing and communication functions, which were integrated in the previous PL151 and PL201 models, which they replace. By separating these functions, Cat gives equipment owners flexibility over the long term. Now it's possible to make a one-time investment in the PL121SR satellite communicator and later add an electronic control module (PL300 ECM) to get more robust information. This new architecture provides versatility for future communications devices to be introduced that are compatible with the ECM. In addition, ECM software is easy to upgrade as asset monitoring capabilities become more sophisticated.
The Product Link hardware consists of antennas, data module and interconnecting wiring. The antenna unit consists of two separate antennas. One antenna is for receiving location information from the GPS satellite system. The second antenna, the taller "whip", is for receiving and transmitting signals from and to a low-Earth orbiting (LEO) satellite system.
The GPS signal, which provides the location information for the system, is sent to the data module from the GPS antenna. The signal is processed by the data module and is transmitted to the LEO satellite through the "whip" antenna. The service meter unit (SMU) signal, which comes from the alternator "R" terminal, is sent to the data module where it is processed and transmitted in the same way as the GPS information.
ORBCOMM (ORB) is the satellite service provider. Through their network of 33 LEO satellites and partnerships with various service distribution partners, ORBCOMM offers a potential worldwide communication solution. Product Link radio frequency (RF) communication operates in the very high frequency (VHF) portion of the frequency spectrum, between 137 and 150 MHz. The EquipmentManager application allows users to access to these messages via the internet.
The system is designed to provide four location reports and one SMU report per day. Users have the ability to obtain additional reports by sending a query from Product Link Web to the module. The PL-121SR and PL-321SR modules enable the Web application to display SMU's, location, digital switch outputs and Product Watch alarms. The PL-321SR also enables event diagnostic reporting and fuel consumption reporting, if available from the ECM.
The EquipmentManager application has the ability to map machine location online. The mapping function will display the location and SMU of each machine and can be used to provide routing information to dealer technicians.
The combination of new architecture and satellite communications technology allows the latest Cat Product Link system to set a new standard for performance, flexibility and value.
Caterpillar Information Centre