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Open Cut

Open Cut Automation Scoping Study

Open Cut » Overburden Removal

Published: April 03Project Number: C11054

Get ReportAuthor: Paul Lever, Ross McAree | CMTE

The objective of this project was to develop a roadmap that identifies how ACARP expenditure on automation based research for surface coal mining should be invested to achieve maximum benefit for the Australian Coal Industry over the next 3 to 10 years.

The roadmap developed is equipment focused and considers the following major equipment groups and their support systems: (i) dump trucks; (ii) shovels, excavators and wheel loaders; (iii) blast hole drills; (iv) dozers; and (v) draglines.

For each piece of equipment the report identifies:
  • scope for potential automation,
  • the benefits sought from the introduction of automation,
  • pathways and technology milestones needed to travel towards specific automation goals,
  • the challenges associated with realizing milestones, and (v) interim benefits that might result from the reaching these milestones as precursors to full automation.

The pathways to travel towards specific automation goals were identified by reviewing the attributes required of fully automated systems and juxtaposing these with the existing state of automation technologies. Wide consultation with researchers equipment manufacturers and mine site personnel was used to broadened the perspective of the study.

The broad conclusion from the work is that at this point in time, ACARP investment towards automation should not focus on the full automation for any equipment types per se, but rather should seek definite progress steps that strategically enhance understanding of the requirements and capability for automation.

Four areas are identified as offering the best opportunities for returns on ACARP research expenditure in the short-to-medium term while making progress towards the longer term objective of full automation. These areas are:
  1. Projects that develop and prove advanced sensing technologies in the mine environment.
  2. Projects that help evolve understanding of the requirements for mine-wide information systems and how these can be used to facilitate unit interactions.
  3. Projects that make use of existing sensors on unit operations equipment to deliver improved understanding of machine operation.
  4. Projects that improve understanding of trade-offs between equipment productivity and damage and/or predict failures, leading to the development of duty meters.

These project types are cross referenced to identified technology milestones in the automation road map.

Feedback obtained from a mine-site based focus group was obtained on the relevance of several of these the automation technology milestones to current operations.

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