Hitachi working to enable safer, sustainable and more productive mining environment
Globally, mining is on a journey to a safer, smarter and more sustainable industry. At the centre of these transformational initiatives is Hitachi Construction Machinery (HCM) and its Autonomous Haulage System (AHS).
Hitachi is using its diverse group company capabilities to partner with mine owners and operators to help find innovative and effective solutions to meet industry challenges. Hitachi believes in the very near future that mining will be a highly autonomous process and technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning will herald a new direction in how mining will be done in the future.
One of the emerging technologies is Autonomous Haulage. Hitachi’s AHS removes humans from risk, allows for broader upskilling opportunities for teams and allows mining companies to better maximise their fleet assets whilst delivering a safer environment in which to operate. AHS provides further value through real time asset health data to manage machine availability and improve utilisation.
Optimising a haul fleet using AHS can lower fuel consumption per tonne (reducing emissions), maintenance costs reduction due to using equipment as designed and by minimising the variables of human behaviour create more predictable and safer working environments.
Hitachi AHS is currently in its final stages of development in Australia at Stanwell Corporations Meandu coal mine in Queensland. Hitachi’s AHS offering, when commercially available, has the capability to be easily retrofitted to the HCM AC-3 series trucks in the future.
The core competencies of an AHS is the ability for the solution to safely and effectively perceive, think and act. AHS solutions require complex and mature infrastructure and HCM is utilising its three layered Hitachi proprietary design to deliver a system that will have capability to continually improve into the future. These layers include:
- Fleet management system (FMS) from Hitachi company Wenco International Mining Systems.
- Traffic control system, based on Hitachi technology used on one of the busiest train systems in the world, the Tokyo metropolitan.
- Proprietary vehicle command and control intelligence system.
Hitachi AHS differentiates itself using a hybrid of the best features developed in software and hardware centric approaches currently being used. HCM’s development philosophy is geared to deliver a solution that is flexible, scalable and agile.
HCM uses a unique Traffic Control System adapted from that widely used in the world’s busiest rail networks that are used for large scale and complex ecosystems. Autonomous Haul Truck (AHT) routes are divided into segments, allowing controlled movement within its permissible segment.
Smarter AHT assets using onboard sensors and controls allow safe, localised decision making removing the need for AHTs to continuously send large data packets in real time. This feature reduces the strain on site communication networks and enables the HCM system to support more trucks in the production fleet.
The potential benefits from AHS will be significant. Mines currently using this technology have published significant operating improvement gains and our testing and evaluation verifies these claims.
Innovation such as Hitachi’s AHS will improve lifestyle of miners, reduce the costs of mining operations, improve site sustainability and facilitate digitally connected mining environment. Instead of working in some of the most remote and inhospitable environments in the world, mine workers will be able to work in the comfort of operational centres in centralised communities.
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