In what is believed to be a world-first, RCT, together with equipment manufacturer Rham Equipment, has deployed a fully autonomous battery-electric Rham loader into the African mining sector.
This technological feat saw RCT work with Rham to specifically engineer the automated loader to effortlessly work in height-restricted drives in a South African platinum mining operation.
RCT’s market-leading ControlMaster® automation technology was integrated with the Rham ultra-low profile (ULP) 25HD battery-electric loader with the package installed at Rham’s factory, prior to the loader’s deployment to the site.
This project showcases ControlMaster as a proven interoperable automation platform that can be integrated across any mobile equipment make, type or model, RCT said.
With the technology established on site, the loader operators are able to manage LHD operations from the safety of a ControlMaster Automation Centre on the mine’s surface.
In addition to this, RCT interfaced with the Rham dash display and replicated it on the Automation Centre, to provide the operator with important machine health information.
The project also includes the implementation of RCT Connect, a specialised underground communications network designed to enhance autonomous fleet operations.
Rham Managing Director, Kevin Reynders, said: “This joint venture project has run effortlessly creating safer machines for our miners.
“Rham Equipment, a Level 3 B-BBEE South African, (Pty) Limited Company, has been producing specialised mining equipment since 1980. The company has been providing the South African mining industry with quality products and top-of-the-range services for the past four decades.”
Reynders added: “The product range includes underground transporters, excavators, LHDs, dump trucks, roof bolters and conveyor drives, to name but a few. To date, Rham Equipment has supplied over 2,000 units to some of the most prominent South African platinum, gold- and coal mines who we count amongst our customer portfolios.”
RCT Business Development Manager for Africa, Mike Thomas, said the project represented an important milestone on many fronts.
“ControlMaster has an extensive history integrating with diesel powered equipment, but this project proves that the technology can interface seamlessly with battery-electric mobile machines.
“Battery-electric equipment fleets can significantly reduce a mining operation’s carbon footprint while eliminating the costs associated with diesel consumption, so we expect to see a greater uptake of the technology around the world. The technology will relocate the machine operators to a safe working area on the mine’s surface while enabling optimised autonomous machine operations.”
“A cornerstone of ControlMaster is its ability to integrate with any machine and this project proves that our technology can interface with Rham’s loader, which is an entirely new machine for us.”
RCT’s technical team will empower mine site personnel with comprehensive training and technical support to operate and maintain the equipment going forward, it said.
The company concluded: “The project demonstrates RCT’s automation technology can successfully integrate with battery-electric mining equipment and is an important step toward delivering an autonomous, carbon-friendly mining fleet of the future.”