U&M na revista International Mining de abril 2020Publicada em: 01/10/2020
AHS as a contract miner solution
Brazil-headquartered contract mining major U&M has been able to retrofit AHS on a Cat 777 truck entirely in-house. Paul Moore caught up with Commercial Director, Mauricio Casara for the latest on the project
Q Last year you progressed a lot with testing the truck both at your own test quarry and also with two trial customers. What has been done since then and will you upscale your AHS to a larger machine?
A It is still progressing well, we have entered the rainy season at the mine site where we are currently testing the truck and our team is working on the setup/fine tuning for the adverse weather conditions. Since utilisation of trucks drops considerably in very wet weather, we have another team working on the preparation of a 200 ton class (Komatsu 730E) conversion, which will hopefully be ready in 5 or 6 months. It will be sent for trials at one of our contract mining sites, after being tested here at our quarry. The decision to go to a bigger truck was natural as we initiated the project with the 100 t class due to logistical reasons. It was easier to move the truck around and showcase it – were able to test it at two different mines and take it to a trade show. Now that we have an AHS conversion kit ready, it can be retrofitted to any truck size. The only difference in scaling up will be on actuators and position of sensors on different trucks.
Q You will be one of the first mining contractors in the world to offer an in-house autonomous solution, what has the market response been to the 100 t truck? When do you think you will have an AHS fleet ready?
A Although the solution didn’t reach commercial stage, the clients that had contact with the system gave us very positive feedback due to its simplicity and for not requiring heavy comms infrastructure. Based on the project timeline it is likely that we will have a fleet of AHS trucks ready by the end of 2021.
Q How will your autonomous fleet option work from a contractual point of view? You own and operate the autonomous fleet then after the contract ends you will move the auto trucks to a new project?
A The format of the contract will come from the client and be based on their requirements but yes, the idea is that the truck will be owned and operated by us and at the end of the contract it moves to another site, where it can be operated in either autonomous or manned mode. Although the driver to develop the project was safety, this simplicity and capability of operating in either autonomous or manned mode was a core part of the mission given to our innovation team. It is key to the kind of service that we provide.
Q What are your network requirements in a mine for your autonomous trucks to work?
A There are no heavy network requirements. The trucks are guided by an onboard navigation system, which sends and receive data from dispatch using a simple short wave radio frequency transmission system and we have one (or more depending the size of the mine) RTK base station to ensure the truck is following the correct path outlined in its mission.
Q Finally, as a company are you also looking at automating other equipment in-house such as drills, support machines etc?
A Yes – it is to early to go into any details but we are progressing well on the development of a system that will allow us to operate our production dozers in remote or autonomous modes.
U&M thinks it will have a full AHS fleet ready by end 2021