Engineering & Mining Journal

NOV 2018

Engineering and Mining Journal - Whether the market is copper, gold, nickel, iron ore, lead/zinc, PGM, diamonds or other commodities, E&MJ takes the lead in projecting trends, following development and reporting on the most efficient operating pr

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AUTONOMOUS HAULAGE SYSTEMS 52 E&MJ • NOVEMBER 2018 www.e-mj.com Autonomous haulage systems (AHS) will have a pronounced impact on future min- ing operations. Driverless trucks run con- tinuously and more efficiently than their manned counterparts. AHS will improve everything associated with the mining operation from safety to operations to maintenance. They will also change the approach to mine planning and schedul- ing. The 8-hour production shift, for ex- ample, was based on miner fatigue levels. Production shifts in the future might be based on the refueling needs of the ex- cavator or they might disappear entirely. The ideal mine plan for autonomous operations has less intersections than tra- ditional open-pit operations. The dump and loading areas will likely be a little larger. Haul road design and maintenance will be even more important, especially if the autonomous fleet is interacting with manned vehicles. During October, Komatsu Mining held a demo at its proving grounds in Tucson, Arizona, offering access to a select group of trade press writers and customers. Autonomous mining experts provided in- formation on where the industry stands today, fielded questions and offered in- sights about the future of this technology. While autonomous mining is not the best option for every mine, there are dif- ferent degrees along the autonomy spec- trum from manned to full autonomy supported by artificial intelligence (AI). Many operations already take advantage of fleet management systems (FMS) and guidance from global positioning systems (GPS). They also have collision avoidance systems. Some operations, for example, are considering operator assist around the loading and dump points. Advanced cen- tral control platforms integrate all these ap- plications. Someday, artificial intelligence will improve operations continuously. Komatsu pioneered the AHS when it started down this path 30 years ago. The primary objective was to move as much rock as safely and cost effective- ly as possible. Today, the company has autonomous fleets operating in Canadian oil sands, Chilean copper and Australian iron ore. They have also tested it in coal applications and believe the technology is transferable. With 130 autonomous trucks operating worldwide, Komatsu and Modular Mining Systems have a great deal of experience and they are looking to advance to the next level. The Autonomous Timeline Komatsu Mining is a subsidiary of a major Japanese equipment manufacturer. The haul trucks are researched, designed and built in Peoria, Illinois. The autonomous technology was developed in Japan. Mod- ular Mining is a subsidiary of Komatsu and its Dispatch FMS is an integral part of the autonomous truck, optimizing the haulage cycle. In mining, autonomous means a con- trolled presence, explained Brian Yure- skes, director of global account manage- ment for Komatsu. "It's all about reducing variability and making everything work as it should," he said. "A couple of ad- vantages that customers report are the increases in productivity and a reduction in their total cost of ownership. One of the biggest benefits is the truck itself. It's very reliable and it runs consistently." Anthony Cook, vice president autono- mous and continuous solutions for Modular, pointed to the safety factor, explaining that these systems reduce the number of opera- tors and their exposure to the mining envi- ronment. "When mines connect to autono- mous, they are putting all of their trust in [us]," Cook said. "The biggest thing we have is the experience and we can bring that to the mine sites and make them successful." Komatsu recently achieved a milestone of 2 billion metric tons (mt) moved with au- tonomous trucks. "However, what we are most proud of is the safety results," Yure- skes said. "Zero autonomous hauler-relat- ed incidents in 10 years of operations." While the first autonomous testing start- ed in Japan in 1990, the process technically began with the release of the Dispatch FMS in the late 1980s. It became the foundation for Komatsu's autonomous platform and it's the reason the two companies formed the original partnership. "We have been working on this for a long time," Cook said. Komatsu Debuts Advanced Autonomous Systems A market leader offers autonomous mining insight during a demo at its proving grounds in Tucson, Arizona By Steve Fiscor, Editor Komatsu tests autonomous haulage at its 700-acre proving grounds outside Tucson, Arizona.

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