Komatsu celebrates 10 years of Autonomous Haulage with plans to accelerate mining automation
Komatsu is celebrating the tenth anniversary of the commercial deployment of their Autonomous Haulage System.
More than 100 Autonomous Haulage System trucks now operate in Australia, North and South America. Based on the 10-year proven record of safety, productivity, environmental resistance and system flexibility in an array of mining environments, Komatsu now plans to accelerate the pace of Autonomous Haulage System deployment.
In 2005, Komatsu began the Autonomous Haulage System trial at CODELCO’s copper mine in Chile and succeeded in achieving the world’s first commercial deployment with Codelco in January 2008. A second successful deployment followed in late 2008 at Rio Tinto’s iron ore mine in Australia and Rio Tinto currently operates Komatsu Autonomous Haulage System trucks in four mines in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
The entire autonomous haulage operation is controlled remotely and efficiently from Rio Tinto’s operations centre in Perth, roughly 1,500 km from the mines. Following those successes of the deployments, Komatsu supported Suncor’s pilot of the Autonomous Haulage System in a section of their oil sands mine in Canada in 2013.
Today, they operate around the clock, hauling three different commodities, in six mines across three continents. By the end of 2017, the Autonomous Haulage System recorded a world-leading, cumulative total of 1.5 billion tons of hauled materials. In the area of safety, the autonomous system is significantly safer than in conventional mining environments where even a small truck driving error could cause a serious accident.
Customer productivity has improved, reducing load and haul unit costs by more than 15%, compared to conventional haulage methods. In addition, the optimized automatic controls of the autonomous system reduce sudden acceleration and abrupt steering resulting in 40% improvement in tire life compared to conventional operations and the various benefits of the systems deployment also show the great contribution to reducing the environmental impact.
To extend the proven benefits to operations with manned haul fleets, Komatsu conducted and successfully completed trials of its Autonomous Haulage System retrofit kit at Rio Tinto’s existing mine in September 2017. The retrofit kit, mounted on a Komatsu electric drive standard truck 830E (nominal payload: 220 tons), enabled the truck to operate in autonomous mode. As a result, Komatsu recently received an order from Rio Tinto for 29 Autonomous Haulage System retrofit kits, to be installed on 830E standard trucks currently operating at Rio Tinto’s Brockman 4 mine.
In addition to expanding the retrofit kit to include other main models of Komatsu electric drive standard trucks, Komatsu is planning to enhance the autonomous system’s mixed-operation functions. The planned enhancements will enable manned haul trucks of any make to safely interoperate with Komatsu AHS trucks in a blended fleet operation. Under this initiative, Komatsu has committed to provide mining customers with automated solutions that meet the growing demand for gradual transition from existing to fully automated mine.