Tag Archives: RCT

RCT helps Evolution Mining transition to fully-autonomous operations at Mungari

RCT says it has successfully commissioned Evolution Mining’s underground LHD fleet at the Mungari gold mine with RCT’s proprietary ControlMaster® automation technology.

The project has transformed Evolution Mining’s underground loader fleet away from its previous teleremote provider in favour of RCT’s fully-autonomous technology solution, RCT says.

RCT installed and commissioned its ControlMaster Guidance Automation solution onto one CAT R2900 underground loader and one CAT R1700 underground loader at the Mungari operation in Western Australia’s Goldfields.

RCT supplied two Automation Centres located at designated work zones within the mine fitted with G-Dash and provides the operators with real-time, graphical machine data.

The project also involved installing a communications network, critical spares parts and a specialised RCT parts cabinet, according to the company.

Ryan Noden, RCT Business Development Manager Mining, said he was pleased RCT had continued to build on its existing relationship with Evolution Mining.

“RCT’s automation solution was previously established at one of Evolution Mining’s other projects and is now helping the Mungari operation further optimise production capabilities,” Noden said.

“We have been working with Evolution Mining for the past few months planning the transition to RCT’s automation solution that will deliver strong productivity gains.

“Our ControlMaster Guidance Automation technology sets Evolution Mining onto a pathway to full mine digitisation with the ability to scale our technology as the mine develops and introduce the latest technology upgrades when required.

“Mungari will receive on-ground technical support through our branch in Kalgoorlie backed by a team of highly experienced automation specialists.”

A spokesperson for Evolution Mining said: “Evolution Mining has seen a dramatic reduction in remote-related machine damage and a huge improvement in operator comfort and workplace enjoyment. It’s wonderful to see Evolution Mining providing state-of-the-art facilities for its employees.”

RCT will also empower site personnel with comprehensive on-site training packages for machine operators and maintenance personnel, it said.

RCT pushes dozer operators in a new direction at Pilbara iron ore mine site

RCT says it has completed its latest automation and control project for a major mining company at one of its iron ore operations in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

The autonomous solutions specialist supplied and commissioned its ControlMaster® Line of Sight solution on one Caterpillar D10T2 dozer and one Cat D11T dozer and the associated remote control devices for operators.

Site operators can now stand at a safe location overlooking the production area and direct the dozers to push the site’s coarse ore stockpiles and other required activities, RCT said.

RCT Account Manager, Phill Dean, said the technology will protect site personnel while ensuring effective production.

“This project is part of a long-standing relationship delivering leading-edge technology to the major iron ore producer to ensure smooth day-to-day and ad-hoc business activities,” he said.

“The ControlMaster technology integrated seamlessly into both dozer’s operating systems enabling the operators to access the machine’s full range of functionality available by the OEM.”

RCT will provide ongoing after sales support, scheduled servicing and onsite technical assistance as required, it said.

RCT to provide online training for ControlMaster, SmarTrack solutions

RCT, like many other METS companies seeking to connect with miners despite COVID-19 travel restrictions, is bringing its training online.

Its Product Skills training can now be delivered anywhere, anytime thanks to the launch of its online training this week, RCT said.

RCT decided to make the numerous courses available online to upskill workers based in remote mine sites around the world, it said.

“This was deemed even more important due to the current global situation with the COVID-19 pandemic,” RCT’s Product Training Co-ordinator, Sunil Kumar, said.

“We live in a world where everyone wants easy, quick and convenient access to services and the technology is so readily accessible via hand held devices and laptops,” he said.

RCT’s training has expanded to encompass webinar and online training, in addition to the face-to-face training the company has always delivered at various RCT branches around the world or on site.

Participants can now choose to partake in webinar training, where they access the training via their computer and complete it in a virtual classroom. This option allows people to communicate directly with the trainer, ask questions, and interact where needed for the duration of the course.

In addition to webinar-based training, RCT also offers a self-learning option, which offers flexible learning. The courses can be completed anytime, anywhere, as it is all fully online via RCT’s online training portal.

There are numerous courses available ranging from operator and maintenance training for those using RCT’s ControlMaster® automation solutions and industrial Fleet Management solution, SmarTrack® Global.

RCT collaborates with Russian Cat dealer on rockbreaker project

RCT says it has completed a tele-remote project for Russian Caterpillar dealer Vostochnaya Technica (VT) on a fixed position rockbreaker in Siberia.

The pilot project involved commissioning ControlMaster® Teleremote on a fixed position BTI rockbreaker for a large Russia-based mining company at one of its operations in Siberia.

RCT also provided a Digital Vision Kit consisting of two fixed cameras and audio capability and a Fibre Optic Control Station (FOCS) located in site offices on the mine’s surface, it said.

RCT’s Moscow-based CIS Business Development Manager, Stephen Macarow, said the tele-remote rockbreaker was the latest RCT project to be completed at mines in the region.

“RCT was selected to carry out this project due to its experience in integrating automation technology in mining equipment of all makes and models,” he said.

“Operating the rockbreaker from the mine’s surface will safeguard machine operators while also giving them the chance to better utilise the machine’s capabilities.”

As well as installing its Teleremote technology on the rockbreaker, RCT’s bespoke solutions division custom tailored the tele-remote package to the mining company’s specific requirement, RCT said.

“RCT developed a unique auto-stow function at the request of VT and the mining company,” Macarow explained. This function means operators can push a button and retract the rockbreaker arm from the grizzly or steel grate over the ore pass and bring the machine to a parked position.

VT Technology Enabled Solutions Manager, Alexander Voroshilov, said the rockbreaker project was of significant benefit to the customer.

“In order to complete this turnkey project, the VT Technology team has done a big amount of work from equipment delivery from Australia to the mine site, customs clearance, manuals translation and certification, to on-site installation and commissioning under supervision of an RCT engineer,” he said.

“The key factor of the project success is the customer support and good collaboration with a partner, so we really appreciate our partnership with RCT and the customer assistance.”

RCT says it is continuing to provide ongoing technical and after-sales support to the mine site

RCT expands reach of Muirhead, Smartrack and AusProTec solutions with Reliable Industries partnership

RCT has partnered with US-based Reliable Industries to, it says, supply quality technology solutions to mobile equipment around the world.

The partnership involves RCT manufacturing its foundation products, the Muirhead® protection systems, their industrial fleet management system, Smartrack® Global, and its AusProTec™ specialised electrical parts range.

Reliable Industries will supply the products to its existing customer base consisting of mining, power generation and industrial companies located in more than 60 countries, RCT said. The 40-year-old company will explore opportunities to implement additional RCT technology solutions to its clients on a case-by-case basis.

RCT Dealer and Product Management, Andrew Sells, said the partnership will greatly benefit both companies.

“RCT and Reliable Industries both have reputations for providing quality technology options around the world and going forward we can offer our services to a very broad customer base,” he said.

“Both companies understand that prompt service and having stock on the shelf ensures that our customer base is well serviced, both RCT and Reliable share this common value.”

Sells added: “Our Muirhead and AusProTec products incorporate decades of experience operating in mining and industrial operations in some of the world’s harshest conditions and they will rise to any occasion.”

Reliable Industries International Sales Manager, Christopher Callow, said: “Reliable Industries has worked in association with RCT for many years now and they rise to the challenge every time. RCT has a vast array of quality products that solve many problems which our clients encounter across the scope of their organisations.”

Tailings, waste management automation solutions up next for RCT in South America

Having made a name for itself in South America innovating on projects for Codelco, Antofagasta Minerals, Anglo American, BHP, and many others, RCT says it is now delivering solutions for miners in the region in tailings and waste management situations.

The Australia-based company is working with various customers in the region to safeguard their operations in this field with the ControlMaster® range of automation and control solutions, it said.

RCT’s experience in South America dates back two decades.

It all began with the company’s foundation solution, Muirhead® protection systems. These were requested by a client wanting to get more longevity from their bulldozers and loaders which were machine re-builds, according to the company.

Since this initial project, the company has helped deliver fit-for-purpose solutions, encompassing all its brands, to big name clients.

“The South American mining region, in general, is well-known for its copper and gold mines, all of which are located in areas exposed to extreme weather conditions (the heat and the cold) in addition to some being positioned in high altitude locations, making for some precarious working conditions for miners,” RCT said.

“Therefore, RCT’s premier automation and control solutions – ControlMaster have and continue to be in demand in both surface and underground mining operations in the region. While RCT’s Line-of-Sight and Teleremote options dominate the surface mining market, the full automation range is in strong demand for underground mining operations.”

This journey for these solutions began in the early 2000s after RCT completed an audit for ControlMaster Line-of-Sight controllers at BHP’s Escondida mine, in Chile. The company wanted a proven solution to safeguard bulldozer operators manning the run of mine pad feeders and crushers. RCT was able to retrofit the mobile machines with the technology that removed the operators from the cab of the machine and allowed them to operate it from a safe location – ultimately solving the issue for the client, the company said.

By 2008, RCT collaborated with Hexagon Mining to engineer and deliver a bespoke solution to Codelco’s Andina mine that allowed the miner to operate safer and for longer in the lead up to the winter shut down, reducing the number of days they had to stop work. This R&D project saw the delivery of a ControlMaster Teleremote solution, paired with a Muirhead Speed Limiter and combined with Hexagon Mining’s MineOps Geofencing systems installed on a Komatsu WD600 wheel dozer.

It was RCT’s project at Codelco’s El Teniente in 2018 that cemented its reputation in the region, the company says.

RCT’s ControlMaster Automation solution helped El Teniente successfully and safely mine ore-rich mud in what, it says, is believed to be a world-first mining method in these conditions. This feat was facilitated by RCT’s specialised department, RCT Custom, which delivered the bespoke solution to minimise the risk involved in mining in these conditions.

This project required RCT to retrofit its ControlMaster solutions that were previously installed on Codelco’s mobile machines operating at its Andina surface mine site before integrating the refurbished equipment, installing them on working production loaders (Sandvik LH517s) into the existing mine network.

“The solution removed the operator from the cab of the loader and allowed them to control the machine from the comfort and safety of an Automation Station located in an underground control room of the mine,” RCT said. “RCT’s solution allowed El Teniente to recover mud ore reserves that were previously deemed too dangerous to access due to the mud flow into these areas. In addition to this, the loaders were able to tram faster, avoid walls and obstacles after being automated, which significantly increased productivity and reduced machined damage and unplanned downtime.”

RCT’s Commercial Executive, Phil Goode, said it was this project that earned RCT a strong technical reputation.

This project was also monumental for the company as it further reiterated the need for RCT to have more of a local presence and compelled the company to open an office in Santiago, Chile, last year. The team, comprised of five multilingual staff, are working hard to support our existing and new clients in the region.

“Having a team working locally helps RCT to better function in Chile and other South American, Spanish speaking countries,” Goode said. “Technically we have always been very good, but the office allows us to understand the business culture and provide that next level of support to our clients.

“Most importantly, it allows us to provide the first rate level of customer service and after sales support we have built a solid reputation on delivering to all of our clients around the world.”

Currently RCT’s solutions are being delivered in tailings and waste management situations with the company working with various customers in the region to safeguard their operations in this field with the ControlMaster range of solutions, RCT said.

RCT goes to new heights for Western Australia underground mining clients

Autonomous solutions specialist RCT says it has fulfilled requests from mining clients and devised a unique warning system designed to prevent oversized equipment from getting stuck inside underground mining portals.

Staff from RCT’s branch in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, were separately approached by two major mining clients in the Goldfields region and asked to devise a solution to prevent portal blockages, which can severely disrupt regular mining operations.

Branch technicians subsequently produced the Over Height Portal Warning System, which consists of a laser mounted at a particular height connected to a unit placed at the portal entrance.

The unit, designed and built in RCT’s workshop in Kalgoorlie, will produce an audible alarm and flash the word ‘STOP’ to alert machine operators and nearby site personnel there is a potential over-height hazard.

Site personnel are able to determine the system’s field of view and isolate areas such as a corner or pole so that the system will only activate when it senses new objects, according to the company.

RCT Kalgoorlie Branch Manager, Rick Radcliffe, said: “Occasionally underground haul trucks try to re-enter the portal with their trays accidentally in a raised position and this causes the trucks to get wedged in the portal.

“The time needed to dislodge the haul truck from the portal is very costly to the mining operation. Therefore, the Over Height Portal Warning System is a cost effective and easy solution that will help keep mining operations running smoothly.”

Since its development, the Over Height Portal Warning System has been sold to 10 mine sites throughout the Goldfields region, RCT says.

RCT expands presence in South Korea with Haein tech partnership

RCT has signed a technology partnership with Haein Corp to supply autonomous solutions to heavy industries in South Korea.

Under the terms of the agreement, RCT, a leading autonomous solutions specialist, will manufacture and supply Haein Corp with its suite of technology solutions including ControlMaster® automation and control products and its Muirhead® protection systems range.

Haein Corp will distribute and commission the solutions to heavy industries throughout South Korea including the mining, steel processing and construction industries. The South Korea-based company will provide on-the-ground maintenance and assistance to end users with technical support from RCT.

RCT Account Manager, Shane Smith, said: “RCT is proud to be partnering with a capable company such as Haein Corporation and we look forward to supplying technological solutions that will help protect local workforces and optimise operations.

“Our flagship ControlMaster products have a proven history operating in harsh environments around the world and are an ideal solution for operating in extreme heat scenarios which are common in the South Korean Steel processing industry.

“Going forward, Haein Corporation with provide local technical support for end users while being backed up by RCT’s own customer service team.”

A spokesperson for Haein Corp said: “Our customer POSCO is very satisfied with RCT. This makes Haein Corp have confidence in RCT and we have now contracted two more deals with other customers.”

The technology partnership is the latest development in RCT’s business dealings in South Korea which began in 2014.

Gold Fields looks for South Deep productivity boost with teleremote loading project

As part of plans to establish a sustainable footing for its South Deep mine in South Africa, Gold Fields is trialling teleremote loading in a project with automation specialist RCT.

Gold Fields’ problems at South Deep have been well documented, with the company, in 2018, launching a restructuring plan involving the reduction of mining areas, the lowering of overhead costs and an aim to use fewer machines more productively. This followed significant amounts of investment and continued underperformance at the mine.

It is the latter productivity goal that has led the company down the teleremote loading path.

In the June quarter of 2019, Gold Fields commenced non-line of site remote loading training at South Deep. Phase one of the project was to locate the operator control station in close proximity to the underground loading site, according to the company.

Martin Preece, Executive Vice-President Gold Fields South Africa, said soon after this training started, operators suggested an almost immediate move to “Phase 2” with an operator control station located in a recently built surface control centre in the main building at South Deep.

A surface automation chair was ordered from RCT, installed and commissioned in the centre and the company started the process of training up operators.

RCT’s ControlMaster® Automation and Control solutions enable companies to automate a single machine, to a fully autonomous fleet, while also offering step changes with teleremote solutions that allow operators to take control of machines from control centres, trailer cabins or mobile stations.

The interoperability of these systems allows for the seamless integration into any mine’s ecosystem, according to RCT.

Preece said Gold Fields’ approach with all technology is to trial with limited application, to develop and prove the technology, followed by rapid roll out.

“We are still in the first phase of the project and are learning and adapting our approach as we progress to perfect the system before broader application,” he said.

This first phase already has the company using one Sandvik LH514 LHD for teleremote loading operations in the long-hole stope loading areas of South Deep during shift changes. As Preece explained, the RCT technology allows for the LHD to tram between loading and dumping locations, and back autonomously with operator intervention only required when loading and tipping the LHD.

RCT has provided the on-board sensor technology, the network infrastructure in the working areas, the safety application and the surface operating chair – the Operation Automation Centre – located in the surface control centre, he said.

The control centre (pictured, left) was designed and established by South Deep and hosts the teleremote LHD operator automation centre, a teleremote rock breaker station, the operations control room, maintenance and production scheduling as well as business reporting functions.

This teleremote loading technology is, essentially, adding loaded tonnes to the operation where there previously was none, coming close to ticking off the ‘use of fewer machines more productively’ criteria Gold Fields previously set out in its turnaround plan. While not explicitly stated by the company, one would expect it helped South Deep achieve a 36% year-on-year boost in long hole stoping volumes mined, to 631,000 t, in 2019. Overall, Gold Fields said the mine produced 222,000 oz of attributable gold last year.

Teleremote rollout?

Preece said the technology it is trialling has been de-risked in the respect that it has been proven in many applications globally, and the company had very clear safety and commercial imperatives for it.

“The success of any change intervention is to ensure that the application becomes an enabler rather than a distraction for our frontline teams,” he said.

“We would like to believe we are close to operational deployment. Most of the initial challenges experienced with the technology itself have been addressed; the underground mining team is taking ownership by addressing the operating conditions. Furthermore, a second round of operator and maintenance training has been conducted.”

While the trial is currently limited to long-hole stope loading in between shift changes, in time, teleremote loading in development and destress areas of the mine could also be possible, Preece said. With plans to equip more machines in 2020, the results could get even better.

“The project business case is based on being able to continue loading over shift changes, so there is further upside when we add in the in-shift productivity gains as well as improvements to the development and destress mining cycles,” he said. “Our approach to expanding the rollout is that it must be self-funding – the value generated by the first deployment must fund the rollout of subsequent deployments.”

The company’s ultimate goal is to be able to operate LHDs continuously for 22 hours a day (the limit the machine can safely operate between refuelling, safety inspections and pre-start inspections, according to Preece), but there is more to achieving this aim than just rolling out teleremote LHDs.

“A pre-requisite for loading during shift changes is to be able to break big rocks in the tipping bins,” Preece said. This is where the successful deployment of teleremote rock breaking, operated from the same surface control centre as the remote LHDs, comes in.

Then there are the interactions with other equipment and, most importantly, people to consider.

“When operating the teleremote machine, the whole area has to be barricaded, isolated and protected by laser barriers, which, if breached, force the machine to stop automatically,” he said. “This will limit the application to areas which we can isolate.”

In areas where personnel are required to perform drilling, supporting, backfilling and other activities, the area cannot be completely isolated and the LHD cannot function optimally, according to Preece.

This might not be the case indefinitely.

“South Deep is exploring opportunities to schedule activities separately to enable broader application,” Preece said.

Similar technology deployed for trucks would be another future area of focus, according to Preece, while he said the mine was also in the early stages of trialling automated long-hole drilling in stopes over shift changes.

South Deep is one of the deepest mines in the world, going to depths close to 3,000 m below surface. Even so, depth is not one of the main business drivers for the increased take up of teleremote operations, according to Preece.

“Safety benefits and the time a machine can effectively be utilised make up for the bulk of the return on investment,” he said. “The challenge with deeper mines are on the support side; if the network infrastructure is in place, it should be the same for shallow or deep mines. For deeper mines, it will take longer to get maintenance and instrumentation support to the machine if something goes wrong.”

Still, could full automation be on the cards?

“Yes! Loading activity remains the most challenging given the variable fragmentation of material,” Preece said. “Operators still need to perform the loading and tipping activities.”

These teleremote and automation projects, on top of personnel and mobile equipment tracking systems previously mentioned in the company’s 2019 annual report, bode well for future automation take up at South Deep, as well as the success of Gold Fields’ turnaround plan for the asset.

RCT’s autonomous mining equipment-specific Wi-Fi hits its stride

RCT says its new specialised Wi-Fi network for autonomous mining equipment is generating strong and positive feedback from industry.

The first ever mining communications system created specifically to support all underground autonomous mining equipment, RCT Connect is flexible in that it is designed to engage with any third-party systems and can enhance the performance of any mining automation and control solutions available on the market, according to RCT.

Since the network’s launch in 2019, it has been deployed at multiple active mines around the world – including Kazzinc’s Tishinsky mine, in Kazakhstan – and has generated strong and positive feedback from site personnel, RCT says.

Brendon Cullen, RCT Automation and Control Product Manager, says RCT Connect is the best underground communications network option available.

“The system is inexpensive and very user friendly so it can be set up quite easily by mine site technicians who do not need specialised training in order to establish and maintain this technology,” he said.

“RCT Connect is designed to be agnostic, and so can integrate with all of the commercially available automation and control solutions offered by global manufacturers.”

He added: “The network is designed to deliver very stable performance and low, consistent latency between operator stations in secure, remote locations and the machine located in production areas.”

Customers will be able to cheaply scale RCT Connect to suit their needs as underground mining operation evolves, according to the company. The network can be adjusted to suit various tramming distances and can ensure effective machine operation over shorter – as well as longer – runs.

Cullen said one key aspect of RCT Connect is its smart roaming feature, which means it is always searching for new wireless access points as underground mining equipment auto trams between certain locations.

“Many commercially available communications networks are configured to access certain nodes for too long and as mobile mining equipment continues to traverse a site, it can result in communication failures,” he said.