Tag Archives: Komatsu

Boliden to become EU automation FrontRunner with help of Komatsu AHS

Boliden has decided to introduce Komatu’s FrontRunner Autonomous Haulage System (AHS) on 11 haul trucks at its Aitik copper mine in northern Sweden, in the process becoming the first company to introduce AHS in the European Union.

The investment is for a total of SEK218 million ($25 million) and will be fully implemented during 2024.

While the production rate at Boliden Aitik remains constant, the required transport work is increasing with the size and depth of the mine, Boliden explained. Automation of the haul truck fleet will increase productivity and asset utilisation in order to meet increased transportation demands in the mine while retaining world leading cost competitiveness, according to the company.

Stefan Romedahl, President Business Area Mines, Boliden, said: “Haul truck automation in Aitik is securing that the mine will stay in the position as the world’s most productive copper mine, while continuing to deliver copper with industry leading climate performance.”

Apart from the technical aspects, the project will include in-depth training of mine staff, both for current and new roles. The expectation is that the work environment will become safer and more attractive with the introduction of automation, Boliden added.

In September, Komatsu announced that mining companies had hauled more than four billion metric tonnes of materials leveraging its FrontRunner AHS, with the milestone achieved just in advance of MINExpo 2021.

First deployed in 2008 at Codelco’s Gabriela Mistral (Gaby) copper mine in Chile, AHS brings together Komatsu ultra-class dump trucks with Modular Mining’s DISPATCH Fleet Management System. Since start-up, zero system-related injuries have been reported, according to Komatsu.

Alongside automation, Boliden is also investing in trolley assist operations at Aitik where it has plans to deploy more than 10 trucks on around 3.5 km of electric trolley line.

GMG tackles mine automation safety in latest whitepaper

The Global Mining Guidelines Group (GMG) has published the System Safety for Autonomous Mining white paper as it looks to provide a comprehensive view of the need for a “system safety approach” for mining companies deploying and using autonomous systems.

It also aims to increase awareness of the system safety and its benefits by providing education and context on safety management and the system safety lifecycle, the purpose and typical contents of a safety case, the significance of human-systems integration, and factors that influence software safety management, GMG says.

The white paper intends to addresses the use of autonomous systems within the mining industry, both surface and underground. It applies to all autonomous machines and to the integration of autonomous and semi-autonomous machines with manually-operated machines, as well as to complex integrated systems of systems across the mining industry. While it was developed with a focus on autonomous systems, most of the information is general and is also relevant to manual operations, GMG says.

Explaining the paper, GMG said: “System safety is a view of safety that extends beyond the machines to consider the complete system (ie machines, human factors, and environment, and the interfaces between these). The goal of system safety is to reduce risks associated with hazards to safety. It is a planned, disciplined and systematic approach to identifying, analysing, eliminating, and controlling hazards by analysis, design and management procedures throughout a system’s lifecycle. System safety activities start in the earliest concept development stages of a project and continue through design, development, testing, operational use and disposal.”

Chirag Sathe, Project Co-Leader and Principal Mining Systems at BHP, says: “With an ever-increasing use of technology in mining, particularly in surface mining equipment, it is important to understand the overall impact of systems implementation on safety. I hope the white paper helps to increase the awareness of this important emerging topic in mine safety, not only within mining companies but also for OEMs, technology developers and implementors.”

On the role of industry collaboration both in the development and intended use of this white paper, Project Co-Leader, Gareth Topham, says: “The white paper demonstrates that the mining community continues to see the benefit in collaborating to ensure the introduction and the ongoing operation of autonomous mobile equipment is done in a safe environment. It will enable discussions between all parties to pursue opportunities to improve the level of risk to safety by addressing the topics that are contained in the paper and improving on the communication that delivers a more holistic understanding of these systems. “

On the importance of this topic from an OEM perspective, Michael Lewis, Technical Director at Komatsu, says: “The adoption of autonomous systems in mining has been growing rapidly since the first Komatsu autonomous trucks entered into production in 2008 and it’s been exciting to support our customers as they expand use of autonomous systems. Safety has always been the top priority for our industry, and as the use of autonomy grows to cover more of the mining value chain it’s important that we look at the whole system it impacts.

“I applaud the truly collaborative work between mine operators, OEMs and other GMG members in the creation of this white paper,” Lewis adds.

As only an introduction to the topic, there will likely be future work to provide more complete guidance on applying system safety to autonomous systems in mining.

Andrew Scott, GMG Vice-Chair Working Groups and National Cluster Development Manager at METS Ignited, says: “GMG, as an industry-led organisation, is proud to have had the opportunity to facilitate this work with the global mining community. I look forward to the discussion this white paper will spark as well as further collaboration on the topic.

“I would like to thank all who provided their input and support.”

Cummins’ PrevenTech Mining keeps Komatsu trucks, wheel loaders going at Boliden mines

Cummins says its solutions are helping maximise machine uptime on trucks and wheel loaders running its engines at Boliden’s mines in Sweden and Finland.

In the vast open-pit copper mines here, the temperatures can drop as low as -40°C, testing the sturdiest of machinery working day and night extracting and hauling ore.

“It wouldn’t be so tough on the equipment if the thermometer stayed in roughly the same place for any decent length of time, but up there on the edge of the Arctic Circle it’s not unusual for a bitingly cold day to be followed by a more temperate one that feels positively tropical by comparison,” Cummins says.

The unpredictable swing in temperatures makes it difficult to keep equipment in full working order, with parts freezing and thawing, but it’s a challenge taken on by Cummins, which has signed service and maintenance agreements with the Swedish and Finnish distributors of Komatsu specialist mining equipment.

Cost-per-hour agreements – the first of their kind for Cummins in Europe – cover a total of 17 QSK60 Tier 4 Final engine-powered vehicles in Finland, while, in Sweden, a support contract covers a further nine examples of Komatsu’s 2,700 hp 930-E dump truck and a pair of the world’s largest wheel loaders, the L2350.

European DBU leader, Alok Joshi, and Sander Thorstensen, Cummins Leader for the Nordic region, arranged the contracts with the Komatsu distributors Hesselberg (Sweden) and SRO (Finland).

“We are relatively new to the mining sector in Europe,” Thorstensen says, “but all the feedback we have received so far has been incredibly positive, helped by our outstanding new PrevenTech® Mining telematics technology.”

PrevenTech Mining is a real-time digital monitoring and reporting system that provides an early warning of potential equipment operating issues. It helps plan maintenance and service, ensuring machinery is offline as little as possible, boosting productivity for, in this case, Boliden.

Janne Valmari is managing the Komatsu operations for Cummins Sweden. He has appointed two dedicated service technicians for Boliden’s Aitik copper mine just south of Gällivare in northern Sweden, and four technicians to cover Boliden’s Kevitsa mining operations across the border in Finland.

Valmari said the stream of data from PrevenTech allows the Cummins technicians to identify and diagnose performance issues faster and with greater accuracy, so they can see, for example, if an engine has been idling too long or revved too high, and can plan in the right fixes.

“It puts the mine owner in complete control, with no expensive surprises and benefitting from a higher return on their investment in product,” Valmari says.

Thorstensen added: “With their goal of keeping production running non-stop round-the-clock, I am certain Boliden sees the Komatsu-Cummins relationship as a core element of its strategy, and we will continue to strengthen our ties with Boliden and the Nordic mining industry in general.”

This is an edited version of an article that appeared in The Cummins Magazine

Komatsu goes hoseless with ZJ32Bi battery-electric jumbo

Komatsu has introduced a new underground hard-rock drilling machine with several advanced features, including hoseless booms, at MINExpo 2021 in Las Vegas, this week.

The ZJ32Bi is a battery-electric, medium-class jumbo built on a common platform for increased user adoption and efficient training, the company says. The new machine offers a standard reduced hose configuration – only six per boom – with a hoseless option. At the event, Komatsu is showcasing the new jumbo with two booms and zero hoses.

The hoseless boom completes all fluid and communication transfer inside of the boom cylinder, offering a potential game-changer in terms of automation and productivity, according to the company. A hoseless boom also eliminates the need to account for hoses in automation algorithms and eliminates wear between the inner and outer boom tubes for improved drilling accuracy over time.

Because of the common platform of the ZJ32Bi, it essentially becomes a multifunction drilling machine, Komatsu says.

Other key features of the ZJ32Bi include:

  • An intelligent control system that allows for semiautonomous functionality or operator augmentation;
  • A modular battery-electric driveline with up to 130 kW (65 kW base) of on-board energy for the demanding tram cycles and rigorous hard-rock mining;
  • A newly designed fully enclosed operator cabin with advanced noise reduction, operator ergonomics, double-curved glass with a focus on air cleanliness; and
  • Lightweight, durable feeds in fixed and double telescopic versions, featuring cast polyurethane components to reduce weight and help improve longevity.

Komatsu to offer all P&H electric rope shovels as AC-powered machines

To provide customers with an up to 6% improvement in productivity compared to DC-powered models, Komatsu is now offering all of its P&H electric rope shovels as AC-powered machines going forward.

The production improvement gains are measured by comparing machine performance data. Furthermore, several Komatsu customers have reported they can regularly achieve higher productivity with the company’s AC models, the OEM says.

Working with its customers to better meet the needs of the evolving mining market, Komatsu reports the following advantages of AC machines over DC machines:

  • Improved productivity: faster cycle times, no transfer-to-propel delay;
  • Less power used: higher efficiencies with AC motors and power converters result in lower electricity (kilowatt hour) usage per ton moved for a more sustainable product offering for today’s mines. With increased productivity and availability, the AC platform is consistently shown to be a higher-performing machine;
  • Lower maintenance and repair cost: reduction in parts/components costs (eg motors – no brush inspections or change-outs, no commutator stoning or skimming), and a reduction in labour cost; and
  • Increased availability: field observed mechanical availability increase of 1-2%. This increase is primarily driven by increased MTBF (mean time between failure) of the electrical system. AC motors and drives require fewer static maintenance checks, resulting in more efficient planned maintenance, and an overall improvement in maintenance labour ratio.

Now that AC models are available in all size segments for customers, Komatsu will focus its OEM production and development efforts on the higher-performing AC line of electric rope shovels.

The company says it will continue its global support of the existing DC shovel market, however, providing customers around the world with service, parts, technology advancement and all aftermarket services. Where possible and supported by DC technology, product upgrades, including Centurion upgrades, will continue to be provided for the more than 400 DC-powered Komatsu shovels in the field.

“With over 100 P&H AC shovels operating globally, we are confident in our shift to the AC shovel platform,” Brian Fox, VP Mining Products, Komatsu Mining, says. “However, we remain fully committed to working with our customers to keep their existing P&H DC shovels running far into the future.”

Komatsu addresses room and pillar mining challenges with new innovations at MINExpo

To demonstrate its continued support of, and collaboration with, soft-rock operations, Komatsu has introduced new machine features and a next-generation conveyor chain to help mines maximise uptime and achieve productivity goals.

These offerings debuting at MINExpo 2021 include the 12HM46 continuous miner with the new Titan Cutter Head, the BH-18A battery hauler with new lithium-ion battery technology and the NXT Single Sprocket Conveyor Chain – all designed to help operators make progress with automation and solve common issues experienced by today’s mining companies, the company says.

“Productive room and pillar mining comes down to having the machines and parts that can help soft-rock mining operations extract and haul more coal and industrial minerals in less time,” Jim Haughey, Product Director, says. “With these new features and a next-generation conveyor chain design, operators have tools that can help them hit their productivity targets while making inroads into automation.”

Engineered for the rigors and unique challenges of underground room and pillar mining, these three offerings provide distinct advantages, Komatsu says:

  • The 12HM46 continuous miner with Titan Cutter Head is Komatsu’s largest and most powerful drum-style continuous miner with 50% more cutting power and 70% more productivity potential than the company’s other continuous miners. The machine is engineered specifically for industrial mineral applications, like trona, gypsum, potash and salt;
  • The BH-18A battery hauler with new lithium-ion battery technology is designed to deliver improvements in productivity, sustainability and cost compared with traditional lead-acid battery technology. Lithium-ion batteries can power a hauler up to 136,000 ft (41,453 m) per charge versus 115,000 ft for lead-acid batteries, and charge in less than 2.5 hours; and
  • The NXT Single Sprocket Conveyor Chain features a new patented chain link with dirt relief technology that is 46% stronger than previous models for improved reliability. Dual scraping flights are designed to solve issues that could lead to premature chain failure, and other innovations improve the time necessary to change flights and connecting links. This part is designed for both continuous miners and shuttle cars.

Brian Thompson, Vice President, Mining and Crushing Systems, says: “These three offerings represent our ongoing commitment to collaborating with our valued customers to help them solve today’s room and pillar mining challenges, hit coal and industrial mineral extraction and haulage targets and further their automation efforts. They also reflect our dedication to detail by bringing engineering innovations to something as simple, yet critical, as a conveyor chain.”

Komatsu’s MC51 hard-rock cutting tech up and running at Vale’s Garson mine

Vale and Komatsu’s mechanical rock excavation (MRE) collaboration has moved into another gear, with the Komatsu MC51 machine featuring DynaCut mechanical cutting technology now operating underground at Vale’s Garson nickel mine in Sudbury, Canada, Vale’s Dino Otranto confirmed at MINExpo 2021, in Las Vegas, today.

Speaking at the ‘Creating value together: Special one-time presentation with Vale’ event on Monday, Otranto, Chief Operating Officer of North Atlantic Operations and Asian Refineries for Vale, said the machine was in operation, 2.5 km underground at Garson after recently being assembled.

The machine is scheduled to carry out a 1,400 m initial test run at the mine, according to Komatsu, with the exercise seen as a way to bring the technology to market quicker for Vale and other customers, Rudie Boshoff, Director of Hard Rock Cutting systems at Komatsu, said during the presentation.

Andy Charsley, a Principal Mining Engineer at Vale, says this trial is the largest hard-rock cutting trial Vale has ever committed to.

Through more than 10 years of research and development, Komatsu says it has determined how to break rock continuously and precisely through a fully electric system that outputs zero emissions. By automating and controlling processes so the machine can be operated remotely via line of site, Komatsu customers have the opportunity to move their operators further from the cutting face and from harm’s way leveraging DynaCut technology and the MC51 machine. DynaCut technology, which has previously been tested at Newcrest Mining’s Cadia underground mine in Australia, is billed as offering cutting accuracy of within 50 mm to plan.

Otranto says the partnership with Komatsu is the first step to “really prove and understand the technology, while meeting our high standards for safety”.

Last year, Charsley and colleague Luke Mahoney spoke to IM about this partnership, which is part of the mechanical cutting demonstration within the CMIC (Canada Mining Innovation Council) Continuous Underground Mining project.

Vale said back then that the trial planned to demonstrate the ability to cut rock in excess of 250 MPa; cut at a commercial rate of more than 3.5 m/shift; quantify the cost per metre of operation and start to look at the potential comparison with conventional drill and blast development; assess the health, safety and environmental suitability of the MRE process; and gain insight into the potential of an optimised MRE process.

Charsley says the integration of the MC51 with bolters, trucks, scoops and other equipment at the operating mine will be included within the company’s assessment of the technology.

Since announcing this collaboration, the South Australian Government has awarded a A$2 million grant to Hillgrove Resources to trial the new underground mining technology being progressed by Komatsu.

Komatsu and Vale’s DynaCut Garson collaboration to be highlighted at MINExpo

Komatsu and Vale are set to reveal more about their underground hard-rock mechanised cutting technology collaboration at the upcoming MINExpo 2021 event next month.

The companies, through the Canada Mining Innovation Council, have been engaged on a project to advance the future of underground hard rock excavation through optimising use of Komatsu’s DynaCut mechanical cutting technology.

The technology was previously tested at the Cadia underground mine in New South Wales, Australia, operated by Newcrest Mining, which IM revealed last year as part of an exclusive interview with Vale’s Luke Mahony, Head of Geology, Mine Engineering, Geotechnical and Technology & Innovation for the Global Base Metals Business; and Andy Charsley, Project Lead and Principal Mining Engineer, Technology & Innovation.

Vale and Komatsu will start trialling DynaCut’s capabilities on Komatsu’s new MC51 machine at Vale’s Garson Mine in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, shortly, working together to increase the pace at which the innovative technology will be available to the larger market.

The machine is set up at Garson and expected to start cutting in the next month, IM understands.

“True innovation requires effective collaboration between the end user and suppliers to ensure the technology meets the needs of the industry,” Dino Otranto, Chief Operating Officer of North Atlantic Operations and Asian Refineries for Vale, said. “This partnership is that first step to really prove and understand the technology, while meeting our high standards for safety.”

Through more than 10 years of research and development, Komatsu says it has determined how to break rock continuously and precisely through a fully-electric system that outputs zero emissions. By automating and controlling processes so the machine can be operated remotely via line of site, Komatsu customers can move their operators further from the cutting face and from harm’s way leveraging DynaCut technology and the MC51 machine, it said.

Rudie Boshoff, Director of Hard Rock Cutting Systems at Komatsu, said: “We’re excited to be trialling this new machine and technology because it offers the potential to really change the way our customers mine. Not only does the DynaCut technology provide a very controllable way of cutting rock – within 50 mm accuracy to plan – the machine itself, the MC51, is designed to advance more sustainable mining methods by reducing the amount of equipment required to get to the orebody.”

Komatsu and Vale will be co-presenting about their partnership to drive innovation on September 13, 2021, on stage at the Komatsu booth in Las Vegas.

Just this week, Hillgrove Resources said it was set to trial the DynaCut technology on an MC51 machine to develop a portal and underground decline at the Kanmantoo mine in South Australia following a A$2 million grant from the South Australia Government.

Komatsu teams with Rio, BHP, Codelco and Boliden on zero-emission mining solutions

Working together to rapidly innovate in support of carbon reduction targets, Komatsu has teamed up with several of its customers to form the Komatsu Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Alliance.

The founding members of the alliance are Rio Tinto, BHP, Codelco and Boliden.

Through the alliance framework, Komatsu’s GHG partners will work directly with Komatsu to actively collaborate on product planning, development, testing and deployment of the next generation of zero-emission mining equipment and infrastructure, the OEM said. The alliance’s initial target is advancing Komatsu’s power-agnostic truck concept for a haulage vehicle that can run on a variety of power sources including diesel-electric, electric, trolley (wired), battery power and even hydrogen fuel cells.

“We are honoured that our customers, several of the largest mining companies in the world, have agreed to participate in the Komatsu GHG Alliance and work in partnership with us to develop sustainable solutions for mining,” Masayuki Moriyama, President of Komatsu’s Mining Business Division, said. “We look forward to close collaboration with these industry leaders to accelerate development and deployment of the next level of equipment designed to reduce greenhouse gases from mining operations and ultimately achieve the goal of zero-emission mining.”

The formation of the alliance brings together mining leaders willing to share time, resources and information to deliver zero-emissions equipment solutions, Komatsu said. The company intends to expand the alliance to additional mining companies to enhance industry-wide collaboration on solutions to decarbonisation.

In a separate release, Rio Tinto said it will conduct a pre-production trial of the new equipment at a site and has the option to purchase some of the first trucks from Komatsu once they are commercially viable.

Alf Barrios, Rio Tinto’s Chief Commercial Officer, said: “Rio Tinto and Komatsu have a shared history of partnership on innovation going back to when we built the world’s largest Komatsu autonomous haulage fleet in 2008.

“Our support of a trial, and the option to buy some of the first trucks from Komatsu, underscores our shared commitment to actively collaborate on product planning, development, testing and deployment of the next generation of zero-emission mining equipment and infrastructure as we look to decarbonise our business.”

As a company, Komatsu, meanwhile, says it is committed to minimising environmental impact through its business, targeting a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions from use of its products and production of its equipment by 2030 (compared with 2010 levels) and a challenge target of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

Komatsu has worked to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for customers through product development for decades in many areas including electric diesel dump trucks, electric power shovels, regenerative energy storage capabilities and fuel saver programs, it said.

The company’s initial concept for a haulage vehicle that can run on a variety of power sources, part of the power-agnostic development, is set to make its official debut at MINExpo 2021 on September 13-15 in Las Vegas, USA.

Komatsu aims to improve operator efficiency with WA900-8R wheel loader

Komatsu has released an upgraded version of its 11-13 cu.m class mining loader, the WA900-8R, incorporating, it says, innovative technology features that deliver increased productivity and ease of operation, while reducing operating costs.

This new loader incorporates Komatsu’s “SmartLoader Logic” technology to provide the engine with precisely the right amount of torque for each part of the duty cycle.

According to Mark Summerville, Komatsu’s National Product Manager, this feature improves fuel economy by up to 10% compared with the previous model, while also increasing productivity.

Further productivity improvements include the addition of a modulation clutch for controlling speed and torque, along with faster boom raise speeds to increase cycle times and a tyre slip control system.

“These features, combined with automatic dig and a semi-automatic approach and dump system, means the WA900-8R can significantly improve an average operator’s efficiency,” Summerville said.

The new loader also includes a KomVision obstacle detection system that uses radar and 360° cameras to alert and prompt the operator to react if a person, vehicle or obstacle is detected – greatly improving the safety of personnel in and around the machine.

Replacing the WA900-3E0, the WA900-8R is powered by a Komatsu SAA12V140E-7 engine rated at 671 kW, and has an operating weight of 116.4 t. It is matched for loading 90 t dump trucks (Komatsu HD785 size) in standard configuration, and up to 140 t trucks (Komatsu HD1500) in high-lift spec.

SmartLoader Logic optimises engine torque across all applications to minimise fuel consumption, while always ensuring the loader has the torque and digging power it needs, according to the company.

“This system functions automatically and doesn’t interfere with operation, saving fuel without decreasing production,” Summerville said.

The system is matched to the loader’s automatic transmission, with an electronically controlled modulation (ECM) valve that automatically selects the correct gear speed based on travel speed, engine speed and other travel conditions.

“This ECM valve system also engages the clutch smoothly to prevent lags and shocks when shifting, for more efficient machine operation and a more comfortable ride,” Summerville added.

The WA900-8R’s powertrain has a large capacity torque converter designed to ensure optimum efficiency.

“This ensures greater productivity in ‘V-shape’ loading applications because the torque converter’s increased tractive effort means it doesn’t require full throttle,” Summerville said. “It also allows the loader to achieve higher gear ranges and maintain higher travel speeds when working in load-and-carry applications.”

The loader’s hydraulics are designed around Komatsu’s closed-centre load sensing system (CLSS) technology.

“This uses a variable displacement piston pump combined with CLSS to deliver hydraulic flow exactly when the task requires it, preventing wasted hydraulic flow, which further contributes to better fuel economy,” Summerville said.

A tyre slip control system, proven to be effective in extending tyre service life, Komatsu says, sees the modulated clutch applied to control the torque converter when it senses a potential tyre slip.

“All these features combine to reduce fuel consumption by up to 10% – while also increasing productivity – compared with the WA900-3E0,” Summerville said.

The new WA900-8R features Komatsu’s latest generation of cab to improve operator comfort and safety. This cab features low-effort control levers and an advanced joystick steering system, alongside an electronically controlled suspension system, according to the company.

Other features include the addition of a trainer seat, shockless stop cylinders, climate control air conditioning and modulated clutch.

These features, combined with ergonomic improvements, all contribute to higher operator productivity, easier and safer operation and reduced fatigue, Komatsu said.

Summerville said: “Our new automatic digging system actuates the bucket tilt and lifting operations by detecting the sensing pressure applied to the work equipment. It is designed to significantly reduce operator fatigue and improve efficiency ensuring optimum bucket fill every time the machine enters the pile, whether in rock or in loose materials.”

This system is designed to work in conjunction with the new semi-auto approach and dump system.

“This automates boom lift and bucket dumping when approaching a dump truck, particularly in ‘V-shape’ loading operations,” he said. “Combining this with our automatic digging system, loading operations from stockpile to dump truck is made much easier, and operator effort and fatigue greatly reduced.”

Maintenance and serviceability have been optimised through a high-resolution in-cab monitoring system, which works in conjunction with Komatsu’s KOMTRAX Plus remote monitoring system, the company said.

Side-opening engine doors, an easily accessible engine compartment with dual-side engine bay access ladders, along with a swing-out cooling fan – with reverse – and wide-core radiator (with modular core) all aid maintenance and servicing processes.

An adjustment-free braking system, along with service brakes mounted in-board from the final drives and brake on the sun gear (high speed, lower torque), ensure increased brake life, the company added.

Improved loader linkage and upgraded structures for the front and rear frame, meanwhile, provide a longer structure life.

“With our new WA900-8R loader, Komatsu has developed a best-in-class mining loader, while delivering significantly higher productivity and operating efficiency, combined with lower fuel consumption and reduced operating costs,” Summerville said.