Mining automation enables key processes on mine sites such as controlling a machine remotely, automating multiple types of equipment across a fleet or implementing a completely autonomous fleet of haul trucks that can operate around the clock. To share its latest automation advancements, Komatsu recently hosted customers and distributors for an Automation Global User Forum at the company’s Arizona Proving Grounds (AZPG) facility in Tucson, Arizona, USA.
With an emphasis on Komatsu’s interoperability strategy, the event highlighted the company’s equipment automation and system technology roadmaps as well as customer-presented case studies illustrating the high value autonomous haulage has brought to their mining operations and their potential paths to an automated mine site, Komatsu said. Participants also got a first look at an Autonomous Light Vehicle (ALV) that Komatsu and Toyota are jointly developing – as was announced earlier this week.
Komatsu’s partnership with Toyota is reflective of the company’s interoperability strategy for its customers’ large mining fleets. Receiving directional commands from Komatsu’s Autonomous Haulage System (AHS), one or more Toyota ALVs can integrate with and operate alongside a Komatsu autonomous haulage fleet. Integration of this kind can help improve safety and productivity in an automated mine by reducing interactions with manually operated vehicles, it says.
The forum was attended by customers representing over 20 mine sites around the world, including mines focused on the production of copper, iron ore, metallurgical coal and oil sands.
Showcasing the use and the value cases for AHS, forum attendees shared how they have used the system in multiple ways to optimise for the specific needs of their mines, based on climate and terrain. Use cases included:
- Mountaintop mining;
- Mining in ice/snow;
- High altitude mining; and
- High temperature/desert mining.
Martin Cavassa, Manager, Automation Business Development for Komatsu, said: “Interoperability is the cornerstone of our mining automation strategy. This forum was an excellent opportunity to showcase our developments in automation as well as what we envision for the future of mining.”
Komatsu’s concept for the automated mine of the future includes a range of options from teleoperation and task-level automation to a fully autonomous mine, including automation of the following common mining tasks:
- Grading; and
Since Komatsu launched the world’s first commercial application of an AHS in 2008, the company has deployed over 650 trucks at 22 sites in five countries (as of May 2023). Combined, Komatsu’s AHS customers have moved over 6.2 billion metric tonnes of material, it says.