Liebherr Mining Files Lawsuit Over Copycat Truck Production
Equipment manufacturer Liebherr Mining is suing six former employees at its Newport News production plant, alleging they conspired against the company to steal thousands of design documents and then sell the information to copycat manufacturers in China.
The company is also suing an engineering firm in Detroit for assisting Chinese companies, and two Chinese manufacturing partnerships, in replicating a Liebherr diesel truck with a 400-ton payload.
"This case involves industrial espionage of a serious and brazen nature," according to a 2013 complaint in the case. "It involves the wholesale theft of trade secrets from a United States manufacturing facility and the use of these trade secrets to help multiple Chinese competitors design a competing product."
The 104-page complaint alleges stolen documents such as truck designs, vendor information and factory layouts allowed the Chinese companies to construct the Liebherr-style trucks “in a fraction of the time, at a fraction of the cost, and with a fraction of the manpower as could be accomplished lawful means.”
According to the Daily Press, Liebherr accuses the former workers of stealing documents by downloading files from their computers, thumb drives and USB devices, and states that one worker walked around the Newport News factor taking pictures of its layout and tools.
"Design of mining trucks occurs over years, not weeks," says the 2013 complaint, filed by Brett A. Spain and David A. Kushner with Wilcox & Savage. For its $5 million mining trucks, the complaint adds, "Liebherr has been analyzing and upgrading its design for over 15 years."
Liebherr contends, "American manufacturing jobs will be lost" to companies that rip off technology and processes that took decades and millions of dollars to develop.
"This effort has included teams of employees in research and development, design, computer modeling, quality assurance, vendor relations, manufacturing and testing," the complaint says. "Liebherr has spent hundreds of thousands of man-hours and tens of millions of dollars designing and improving these trucks and components."
The lawsuit asks for $40 million in compensatory damages, including $350,000 in punitive damages against each defendant. Under state rules on conspiracy, the $400 million can be tripled to $120 million.
The suit also seeks for the alleged companies be barred forever from “producing or selling any trucks or truck designs which are derived from Liebherr’s designs” or using its trade secrets again.
Although the first complaint was filed in late 2010, a jury trial is set for July.
Liebherr Mining & Construction Equipment is part of Liebherr USA, which includes the Newport News plant – a division of Swiss manufacturing group, Liebherr-International AG. The company was founded in 1949 by Hans Liebherr.
(Source: Peter Dujardin)
Coal India Secures First-Of-Its-Kind Digital Deal
Coal India Limited (CIL) has appointed Accenture Solutions to digitally transform seven of its open-cast mines as the company strives to improve performance and increase coal production. Accenture is due to lay down digitalisation groundwork until March 2022.
The deal aims to increase coal production by 100 million tonnes (MT) by the end of FY’23. Once the minimum quantity has been surpassed, an agreed sum will be paid to the consultant for every additional sum of coal produced. This success fee will only be paid on the procurement of the minimum assured quantity.
The move will see heavy earth moving machinery (HEMM) fitted with digital sensors to monitor performance efficiency at all levels. Additionally, modern data analytic techniques aim to increase mine productivity and project monitoring through functional system management and effective observation.
An Exciting Venture For Global Mining
CIL, which aims to provide energy security in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner, hopes the move will help transform the entire business of mining operations and ensure higher volumes of coal are acquired at a lower cost.
“This is a first of its kind initiative by the company utilising digitalisation to ramp up coal output,” CIL has said.
A Digital Step Towards Enhanced Performance
Digitalisation is expected to take place at open-cast mines in Kusmunda, Gevra, Dipka of Southern Eastern Coalfields (SECL), Migahi, Jayant, Dudhichua, and Khadia of Northern Coalfields (NCL). Nearly 32% (188 MT) of CIL’s 596 MT output in FY’21 was accounted for by the seven selected mines. However, this new deal is set to see a large increase following the subsequent digital changes due to be made.
“Learning from the outcome and success of this model, we may replicate it in our other large mines,” says CIL, optimistic about the future following the modernisation of their mining.
It is expected that the move will help address roadblocks and guarantee corrective measures are put into place, ensuring the company is able to move forward with its aim of increasing output whilst remaining sustainable and eco-friendly.