COLLISION avoidance technology and remote control programming have led to an award-winning mining system being developed in WA.
The ‘Rocklogic’ system devised by the Malaga-based firm Transmin won the innovation category at the recent WA Information Technology and Telecommunications Awards (WAiTTA).
The system is designed to allow mining operators prevent collisions involving massive rock-breaking equipment at mines that might be thousands of kilometres away.
It means that an operator based for example in Perth, can control several rock breakers at different mines around the State rather than onsite.
It works by monitoring the position of the large robotic arms, or rock breakers, that are used to smash large rocks so they can be fed into a crushing pit.
The system utilises either CAD data or a laser scan of the mine site to give a virtual layout of the scene. As well as that, sensors on the robotic rock breakers keep track of the giant booms’ movements.
“With those bits of information, we determine where the rock breaker is within the scene and basically make sure it can’t hit nearby objects or structures,” says Daniel Adams, the project’s technical lead.
Transmin’s senior engineer, Dr Adrian Boeing, says the Rocklogic technology arose due to industry requests.
“We were working on two very large grapple machines, they each had a 17-metre reach and were in range of each other,” says Adrian.
“We realised there was a risk of collision with two big machines inter-operating close to each other.”
To make such situations safer and more efficient, Adrian and Daniel drew on their experience working outside the mining industry.
“Both Daniel and myself had worked in the automotive industry before in collision avoidance, prevention and advanced driver assistance systems,” says Adrian.
“We also have a background in remote operations as well, where you control machines from a long way away and that, and collision avoidance, has helped with this technology,” adds Daniel.
Rocklogic is part of the growing trend for mining companies to embrace computerised and robotic mining operations, a trend that is seeing Perth—many hundreds of kilometres from most mines—becoming a major mining operating and control centre.
“A lot of major miners including Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Newcrest and the Roy Hill project (in the Pilbara) are all building remote operation centres and of those, three of them are building them in Perth,” says Adrian.