Cashman Equipment celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2021. Can you provide an overview of the company's history?
Cashman Equipment was founded by “Big Jim” Cashman in 1931. At the time, Big Jim was an automobile dealer and was involved in the building of the Boulder (now Hoover) Dam. The story goes that he sold six Cat Model 60 Tractors to the project even though he was not a Caterpillar dealer. He then went to Caterpillar, based in California at the time, and asked the company if they would hire him as a dealer if he was able to sell their largest tractor order to date. That is how he landed the position. In 1961, his successor Jim II acquired a dealership in Reno called Crooks Brothers. When mining took off in Nevada in the late 1960s, Cashman Equipment took off with it, and we opened our Elko operation.
Today, the company is owned by MaryKaye Cashman and has 1,000 employees. Our four major locations include Elko, Winnemucca, Reno and Henderson, but we also have smaller operations throughout the state. While we work in several industries including the power and construction businesses, most of our revenue comes from mining activities.
What are Cashman Equipment’s fastest-growing products and solutions at the moment?
The largest demand at the moment is for our autonomous and semi-autonomous solutions. We also see numerous requests for electrification and cleaner running machines. We are now ready to offer an UG electric solution in the next 12 months or sooner. In terms of surface mining, our clients are focused on reaching zero emissions.
Can you elaborate on Cashman’s autonomous and semi-autonomous offering?
We offer remote controlled dozers which are excellent for slide-type or hazardous situations. In addition, our underground machines are semi-autonomous, meaning that they can be operated through a control board above the ground and even from another part of the world. It also allows operators to handle multiple LHDs at the same time. That technology will soon be fully autonomous, for both the LHDs and the trucks.
On the surface, we currently offer many safety enhancements. One of our standout solutions is the Driver Safety System, which allows machines to stop before collision occurs. We have not reached autonomy yet in Nevada, but we have a few pieces of equipment with strong potential.
How do you see the extent in the adoption of autonomous mining solutions in Nevada?
The US is not as far along in the autonomous path as countries such as Australia or certain parts of South America, but it is coming along well. Originally, many people thought that you needed to have a very high-cost operator to offset the cost of autonomy. For instance, a truck driver in a remote and rural mining project in Australia could easily cost US$250,000 per year, which is why autonomous took off primarily in this type of place. In America, and especially in Nevada, autonomy did not seem to make as much sense since there are towns near the mines and the cost of labor is significantly lower.
However, once autonomy started to take off, mines began to realize the payback not only from offsetting the cost of hiring a driver but also from the complete safety and efficiency the technology provides. The vehicles never go off the road, they never get tired or crash, the fuel efficiency is phenomenal, and the availability of the trucks normally increases by 4-5% since they do not have the same stops as drivers. Today, America is seeing the results of these autonomous solutions and how they can lower operating costs. The main challenge now is that OEMs have limited capacity and capability in this field, and they are encountering a huge demand, so they must prioritize.
What are Cashman’s priorities moving forward?
We will continue to take care of our customers by listening to them, understanding their goals, and helping them lower their cost per tonne or their desired metric. In fact, we have a Continuous Improvement team that works for our customers. Nevada is in a strong position for future growth through lithium, boron, molybdenum and rare earths.
Additionally, Cashman Equipment will continue to be a very charitable organization. We will keep donating heavily to multiple Boys & Girls Clubs throughout the entire state, since one of our primary goals is the development of our youth.