Smart Loader” system automates underground loaders”
MINEGEMTM is a new-generation underground loader automation system featuring the first sophisticated autonomous navigation systems that can operate at the same level as human operators, claims its developer and manufacturer, Dynamic Automation Systems. DAS is a joint venture of Caterpillar Elphinstone and Lateral Dynamics.
The system is intelligent and can react to changes in the environment and the condition of the loader. It is “bolt on” and can be fitted to a Caterpillar underground loader at the factory or in the field to create a semi-automated or fully automated machine.
Copilot mode–with operator-assisted automatic steering of the machine–is the next logical step up from teleremote. Autopilot mode allows the operator to load the bucket teleremotely. Then the operator sends the loader on a mission in which it automatically trams, dumps and returns to the draw point. Under Autopilot, several machines can be operated by one operator. Traffic management, production statistics capture and data sharing are all available options.
DAS has automated 13 loaders to date and has operated field follow units at WMC Resources‘ Olympic Dam operations and Rio Tinto‘s Northparkes mines in Australia. The system has been used in applications such as narrow vein, open stopes and block caves. In normal operation production at Northparkes mines, the system attained more than 95% availability, operating on average 10 hours per 12-hour shift.