Teck adds to RACE21™ innovations with indurad iLoadout radar-based train loadout control solution at Fording River

Mining major Teck Resources says its RACE21™ mining innovation team has supported an on-the-ground team in designing a new system to load railcars safely, efficiently and accurately, while increasing the speed of train loading and maximising the available capacity of railcars. While observing railcars loading steelmaking coal at Teck-owned Fording River Operations, Automation Specialist and Project Manager Roger Cote recently saw an opportunity to make mining processes more cost-effective and efficient. He drew on his experience implementing automated controls from previous work in the automotive and pharmaceutical industries and tapped into Teck’s Ideas at Work Fund to bring his ideas to life.

By using radar sensors (in this case an iLoadout system from indurad), a system was developed to identify railcars entering the loading silo and automatically determine how to operate the chutes to maximise the loading of railcars. With support from the Operating Excellence team and the RACE21™ program, planning for and implementation of the new system went full steam ahead, and the first automated load chute went into operation on May 25, 2020. In the month that followed, underloading was reduced by half and Fording River Operations shipped an additional 11,266 t of steelmaking coal.

The new system increased the speed of which trains can be loaded. It now takes only about 40 seconds to load a railcar, or two-and-a-half hours per train, which is a 41.5% increase in train loading speed. This technology has now been scaled to another loading facility at Fording River Operations and is in the commissioning phase. Early plans are also being developed to expand this technology across Teck’s steelmaking coal operations. “We can now move to improve the efficiency of train loading to maintain and deliver more value,” said Cote.

indurad also states that in addition to greater loading speed its technology reduces underloading by 50% and adds: “Teck has chosen indurad technology due to its broad experience from more than 30 train loading machine vision solutions in Europe, Australia and South Africa, its maintenance free 1D speed 2D/3D imaging radar portfolio capable of working in both snow and fog and its CSA/IECEx approval for its sensors to be used in hazloc zones 20|21|22.” The indurad solution has been integrated into the Rockwell PLC working with indurad’s Vancouver partner enCompass Solutions Group.