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By A.J. Roan
For Metal Tech News 

Roy Hill crosses threshold toward autonomy

Collaborates with MSI Mining, Epiroc to convert iron mine fleet

 

Last updated 3/17/2020 at 11:30am

Roy Hill Epiroc executives sign autonomous mining equipment conversion deal

Roy Hill

Roy Hill CEO Barry Fitzgerald (front left), Epiroc Chairman Ronnie Leten (front right), Roy Hill COO Gerhard Veldsman (back left) and Epiroc Senior Executive Vice President Mining & Infrastructure Helena Hedblom (back right) sign an agreement for Epiroc to convert mining equipment to autonomous.

Roy Hill, an iron mining company with operations in Western Australia's Pilbara region, has signed a deal with global mining equipment and service provider Epiroc, and automation specialist ASI Mining to convert 77 of their human operated fleet of trucks and excavators to autonomy.

Taking a different approach to the future, Roy Hill has chosen to modify their existing fleet and give them a futuristic upgrade.

Epiroc and ASI Mining will collaborate to meet Roy Hill's requirements to deliver a safe, interoperable solution for its truck fleet.

As part of this project Epiroc and ASI Mining will work closely with equipment manufacturers Hitachi and Wenco on truck conversion and integration of Roy Hill's existing Wenco fleet management system.

"Roy Hill is well positioned to transition to automation. Our teams on site and in our Remote Operations Centre (ROC) in Perth have demonstrated a clear capacity to deliver complex projects, sustainable change and operational excellence with the recent success of the autonomous drill program and fleet optimization initiatives. Now is the right time to bring the combined expertise of Roy Hill, Epiroc, ASI Mining and Wenco together to convert our haul truck fleet," said Roy Hill CEO Barry Fitzgerald.

Having delivered major automation projects across the globe, Epiroc and ASI Mining will bring together a highly credentialled team based in West Australia who will leverage the knowhow of a worldwide team of experts.

"Epiroc is proud to collaborate with Roy Hill, ASI Mining and other partners to automate Roy Hill's haul truck fleet, boosting safety and productivity for a crucial aspect of its mining operation," says Epiroc's Senior Executive Vice President Mining and Infrastructure Helena Hedblom. "This is a very strong example of how automation will take a mining company's operation to the next level."

"ASI Mining is pleased to partner with all key suppliers including mining technology integrator Sedna to deliver an AHS solution at Roy Hill – a world-class major iron ore operation," said ASI CEO Mel Torrie. "As a manufacturer-agnostic solutions provider ASI Mining looks forward to highlighting the opportunities presented by an interoperable approach to autonomous mining."

This move may set a precedent for future companies to follow, showing that the technology is here and it's economically feasible.

With the already impressive engineering that goes into the construction of some of the heavy machinery in mining, the lineup is getting some high-tech enhancements.

The backbone of most major mining operations, the rigid haul truck, from 40 to 400-ton capacities will be installed with NAV, an innovative system that will turn these monster trucks into smart haulers.

NAV is reportedly a system of robotic components that installs easily into any vehicle platform, converting it from manual to robotic control.

Haul trucks at Roy Hill Iron mine in Australia converted to autonomous operation

Roy Hill

Manually operated trucks such as these hauling ore at Roy Hill will be installed with NAV, which leverages the truck's existing controller area network system to direct vehicle function.

As for NAV being implemented in existing vehicles, since most modern haul trucks are controlled by-wire, NAV leverages the truck's existing controller area network (CAN Bus) system to direct vehicle function.

This means that NAV will be able to control the transmission, steering, acceleration, braking, dump bed as well as monitor in real-time the vehicle's status.

Paired with artificial intelligence, this system can leverage advanced multi-vehicle command and control software to set up and manage a coordinated system of haul trucks and excavators. This "haulage AI" will keep all trucks consistently tasked, manage queues for waiting vehicles and regulate the haul cycle for the most efficient pathing possible.

Other equipment to be included for the conversion in Roy Hill's fleet include excavators, bulldozers and articulating dump trucks.

The project will see a phased implementation, with testing and production verification of up to eight trucks undertaken in the initial phase prior to the second phase of full fleet expansion from mid-2021.

 

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