Robotic Trucks Improve Work Rate

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Automated Cat 793F Trucks on FMG Mine Site 

The move towards robotic operations in the Pilbara is gathering pace, with Fortescue Metals Group crediting unmanned trucks for a substantial jump in productivity at its iron ore mines.

In an investor briefing last month, Fortescue detailed how its “autonomous haulage operations” had boosted efficiency by 38 per cent since May, far greater than the 13 per cent improvement in productivity clocked by its manned fleet.

Fortescue’s 41 remote-controlled trucks, which use high-precision GPS and radar and laser technology, have hauled 109 million tonnes of ore at the Solomon Hub.

The system, which was developed by heavy equipment giant Caterpillar, is termed “command for hauling”.

Fortescue chief executive Nev Power said some people incorrectly believed savings from automation came from reduced labour costs. In fact, it was often about reduced capital costs.

“It’s not always about labour savings,” he said

“They burn the same fuel and use the same parts as manned versions but the key to them is you use fewer trucks. The only times these trucks stop are when they need maintenance or refuelling.”

WesTrac, which supplied the trucks, believes automation will be a key driver of business.

 “WesTrac has developed and employed a technology workforce of over 100 people with specialist skills in robotics, data analytics, radio networks and GPS technologies to support the deployment of this technology,” WesTrac chief executive WA Jarvas Croome said.

 “WesTrac is the first Caterpillar dealer globally to commercially deploy this technology to our customers and it is just part of a suite of technology solutions focused on increasing productivity and managing costs in the resources industry.”

Original story published by The West Australian

For further information contact:

Danielle Bull | WesTrac General Manager Marketing Communications

T: (02) 9840 4642| F: (02) 9840 4689 | M: 0477 334 887