Sleipner premieres fully electric, autonomous transport system for mines

Sleipner Finland has, this week at The Electric Mine 2024, unveiled a new generation of fully electric and autonomous transport system for moving mining and construction equipment.

The world premiere of the new emission-free transport system took place on Tuesday in Perth, Western Australia, at the event, organised by International Mining Events. The first deliveries are planned for 2026.

The new autonomous and emission-free electric transport system is aimed at mines that already use automated equipment, such as drills, and therefore have the infrastructure to support autonomous solutions. Several patents are pending for Sleipner’s transport solution.

Autonomous mining requires all equipment to be automated – from the giant vehicles that transport blasted rock and the drills. The entire site can be operated and monitored remotely and safely without mining personnel having to work among the automated vehicles, Sleipner says.

“There are already dozens of autonomous mines around the world, and more are coming all the time,” Jukka Koponen, CEO of Sleipner Finland, says. “Australia is one of the pioneers. Currently, the big mining companies are the driving force in autonomous mining, in part due to their emission reduction targets. By 2030, the goal among mining companies is to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by half and, at the same time, automate operations as much as possible. We want to be a pioneer in this development and a market leader in mobilisation solutions.”

He continued: “Several large equipment manufacturers have already been interested in our new transport system concept, and cooperation discussions are currently underway. We plan to deliver our first autonomous and electric transport system as early as 2026.”

The new transport system that has been unveiled by Sleipner Finland is battery-powered, which enables the use of renewable energy for the autonomous transport of mining and construction equipment.

Teijo Höylä, CTO at Sleipner Finland, explained: “Our new transport system makes it possible to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions completely when transporting equipment, whereas current solutions consume significant amounts of diesel. In the future, it will be possible to move machines with battery-powered, environmentally-friendly solutions. At the same time, the productivity of the equipment being transported will also improve by about 5%, while life cycle costs will decrease by up to 10%.”

The company says that the new autonomous and electric transport system will be scaled to different weight classes, and the autonomous control system interface will be brand independent.

Höylä says: “The autonomous and electric transport system can also be connected to the ecosystems of other OEMs since it has an open interface. Versatility and future needs have been taken into account in the design. The transport system can be used to transport, for example, drills, bulldozers and also battery packs at mines. In this way, battery power can be provided on a large scale, which helps in the electrification of mines and the efficient operation of battery-powered equipment.”

Like all other Sleipner Finland products, the new lowbed trailer is designed to operate reliable in temperatures ranging from -40 to +50°C, which is taken into account in the high-quality materials and components. Components from well-known manufacturers are also used, ensuring maintenance is as smooth as possible globally.

Sleipner Finland says it continues to grow steadily, with new products and market openings having – and will continue to have – a growing impact on employment both in production and in its globally expanding cooperation network, as well as in the future in connection with its autonomous control systems. Sleipner Finland’s most recent market openings have been in Poland and Canada. In addition to the Nordic countries, Sleipner Finland already has a strong presence in markets such as Australia and Africa.

Koponen emphasises: “The new transport system supports our growth strategy. We are investing significantly in product development and our cooperation network. Our goal is to be the strongest trendsetter within our own narrow field as a provider of transportation solutions for mining equipment. Thanks to our innovative R&D, we are able to serve the mining companies of the future in their emission reduction targets and operational efficiency.”

In addition to reducing emissions, the automation of mines is also a solution to the prevailing labour shortages in the sector. Technological advances also have an impact on occupational wellbeing.

Höylä explains: “Finding sufficient personnel for mines is a global challenge. Automated machines and equipment, such as our new transport system, enable mines to be operated by remote control. In this way, personnel do not have to be exposed to dust and vibration, which improves their wellbeing. Similarly, personnel do not have to work in the field among large machines, which increases safety. If a worker needs to enter the area, all activities must be stopped completely within a certain safety radius. Automated equipment, on the other hand, can work with each other with only certain limitations.”