Sandvik reimagines the underground mine
Introduces new tech at Innovation in Mining Virtual Event Metal Tech News – September 30, 2020
Last updated 7/10/2022 at 2:50pm
From electric loaders with self-swapping battery packs to complete autonomous mining systems, Sandvik is reimagining the future of underground mining.
The Sweden-based leader in underground mining equipment unveiled their avant-garde vision for mining at the Innovation in Mining Virtual Event on Sept. 29.
During this online event, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology introduced AutoMine Concept, a fully autonomous and operational electric-powered underground loader that is loaded with the latest technologies Sandvik has to offer. These futuristic features include completely new sensing capabilities and artificial intelligence to enhance mining operations.
AutoMine Concept showed off these new technologies as the cab-less loader navigated its way through Sandvik's Tampere test mine in Finland during an online demonstration for the virtual event attendees.
Once a controller puts in the loading and dump points, this autonomous loader plans its own routes, finding the most suitable paths even in continuously changing environments. The obstacle detection, collision avoidance and 3D online mapping capabilities improve adaptability and increase flexibility.
Perceiving its environment in 3D, this cab-less autonomous loader reacts to its surroundings in real-time, even stopping for an unexpected miner on its route.
"The AutoMine Concept is unique because it has been designed ground-up for autonomous use. It is the world's first fully autonomous underground mining machine built specifically for automation," says Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology Vice President of Automation Riku Pulli. "This technology raises ease-of-use, effectiveness of asset utilization and adaptability to a new level, resulting in higher productivity. These technologies will truly change the face and pace of autonomous mining."
Sandvik said this game-changing platform is a foundation for using the company's AutoMine technology in various equipment types and can be applied to any vehicle.
In addition to its impressive autonomous capabilities, AutoMine Concept is fully battery-electric.
And when it comes to carbon emissions-free battery powered loaders, Sandvik is pushing the cutting edge of technology with LH518B, the world's first 18 metric ton battery powered loader.
Much like AutoMine Concept, Sandvik set aside preconceived notions and designed LH518B entirely around the loader's Artisan battery system and electric driveline to best utilize the possibilities that the battery technology brings.
Sandvik obtained this battery and drivetrain system through the acquisition of Artisan Vehicles in 2019.
Keeping the needs of underground miners in mind, LH518B was designed from the ground up to deliver the highest payload without redesigning the mine to meet the loader. As a result, LH518B is able to carry 18 metric tons of material through a 4.5- by 4.5-meter (14.8 feet) tunnel.
For superior productivity, the LH518B is equipped with three permanent magnet motors that deliver nearly instantaneous torque, making the loader fast and agile.
Unlike internal combustion engines, electric drivetrains are not limited by underground mining emission restrictions, which enables the use of the most powerful motors available that are suited for the underground conditions.
The most impressive aspect of LH518B, however, may be the patented self-swapping system for the Artisan battery pack.
With this AutoSwap system, a battery can be changed in about six minutes without the need of a lifting system.
This system is even easier with Sandvik's new AutoConnect feature, which automatically connects and disconnects the battery pack to the machine. With this feature, the company says the only manual part of swapping out batteries is unplugging and plugging the battery packs to a charger.
Sandvik said it is expanding its line-up of battery electric mining trucks and loaders, which will be phased in model by model.