Engineering & Mining Journal

MAR 2019

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MACHINE AWARENESS MARCH 2019 • E&MJ 29 a spot automatically if the shovel was to breach either one of those loading zones as it moves, in which case it prompts the operator to reset that spot on either side." The primary tangible deliverable of the system is exact "continuous guidance and navigation information," Weisheit said. The benefits are numerous and "in- clude reducing shovel hang time, elimi- nating re-spotting of a truck, and facil- itating double-side loading," he said. The system allows the miner to optimize shovel swing angle and load cycle, and to maximize trucking capacity by minimiz- ing total truck wait time. Results include improved compliance to plans along with potentially big gains in productivity, the company reported. In some cases, it can contribute up to eight additional loads per hour. "Dynamically providing truck operators with guidance to the optimum load location without the need for shovel bucket spotting support can increase shovel productivity by up to 34%," Weisheit said. In deployments this year, the system could be used to guide hauler operators dumping at the crusher site. "Because it is a static, fixed dumping point, it is just a matter of surveying in that dump spot," he said. "Once the truck breach- es that polygon around the dump point, they receive guidance to get to the exact designated spot." Beyond 2019, the system could be deployed in other applications, Weisheit said. "When we look down the road a lit- tle bit further, we're seeing dozer spotting and getting into some of the autonomous technologies, running a manned and an unmanned fleet together, with paddock dumping and planned dumping, and lane guidance and keeping, with that high pre- cision data being captured on the truck throughout the mine wherever they are at," he said. Stepping Up a Level, Underground Epiroc's Underground Traffic Management System (TMS) is scheduled for release in Q2 2019. The system features, among other things, an advanced algorithm capa- ble of coordinating a fleet of underground loaders, with a big chunk of the needed computing and processing done on board. TMS is the product of a partnership that at the time it was announced ap- peared ambitious in scope and novel in the players involved. It has since proven to be a mere taste of things to come for both Epiroc and the sector in general. In October 2017, Atlas Copco, the forerunner of Epiroc, announced it was joining with defense contractor Saab and tech firm Combitech to develop safe min- ing and digitalization solutions. The col - laboration included digitalization efforts related to mining control tower, cyber se- curity and ecosystem solutions. At the time, the partnership was said to "build upon Saab's technical platforms and on the working methods and experi- ence that Combitech gained in the course of digitalizing the Gripen E fighter air- craft, an effort that cut development time in half while radically reducing costs," Atlas Copco reported. One of the expected deliveries was a project to develop TMS, which included loaders and trucks, traffic management and safety systems. And the goal was "to create the reliable algorithm in TMS that can be used in real mine conditions and provide the customers with mass mining applications with productive tools." Last month, Epiroc told E&MJ that TMS is "being developed for mass mining appli- cations, such as block caving," and "is a pure software algorithm that integrates the data received from each autonomous load- er, mine planning system and mine traffic control" system. "With TMS, we are inte- grating the data, received from the load- er," so each "can talk" to the others and "detect if another autonomous loader is at tipping point, for instance," the company reported. "Even more, we have reached the integration with mine planning systems" that generate and dispatch assignments, and with mine traffic systems "to avoid dumping into the crusher if it is full." TMS is currently being trialed at a customer site, according to Mattias Pet- tersson, global product line manager au- tomation, Epiroc. "We have other custom- ers that will have this installed during the year as well," he said. "With each new case, and each new application, it will ob- viously become a more complete product and a more complete offering." Such is the evolution of the system, which, Pettersson said, tops a long line of predecessor solutions. "This whole solution started from our capabilities to automati- cally tram with our materials handling prod- ucts, our loaders and trucks," he said. "We have had the capability for a little more than 10 years for a machine to go from Point A to Point B in an autonomous fashion." Autonomous tramming leverages a number of sensors and onboard process- ing technology that enables a rig to know "where it is, relatively, in a mine," Pet- tersson said. One of the goals of developing TMS was to prevent the rigs, while tramming in autonomous mode, from colliding, Epiroc reported. "The loaders can now work to- gether in the same area in a coordinated fashion," the company reported. "That was a main constraint in using the multi-ma- chine fleet in underground previously." Trial results reveal TMS solves the problem, Pettersson said. "Knowing each position for each machine, knowing where they are heading, knowing what speed, we have an estimated time of arrival at certain points," he said. "With that information, Modular's ProVision Guided Spotting System in some cases can contribute up to eight additional loads per hour, the company reports. (Photo: Modular Mining Systems)

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