Guideline for safe autonomous equipment in development

Image: Global Mining Guidelines Group

Image: Global Mining Guidelines Group

Autonomous equipment will receive a clear regulation that defines its minimum safety standards in a new guideline being jointly developed by industry players such as Rio Tinto and Caterpillar.

Under the leadership of the Autonomous Mining Working Group, part of Global Mining Guidelines Group (GMG), the guideline has been in development for the past year.

This was prompted by a lack of clear guidance and industry alignment that ensures the functional safety of autonomous equipment.

GMG said while original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) were at varying stages of maturity, existing standards were not explicitly developed for automating mining equipment.

“Overall, there is general confusion over which standards to follow,” GMG said in a statement.

The guideline will clarify the definition of functional safety, the accountable parties, as well as the testing and verifying procedures.

BHP hosted a second workshop for the project last month to facilitate sector-wide collaboration. It was attended by representatives from Fortescue Metals Group, Goldfields, Citic Group, Komatsu, Epiroc, Liebherr, Scania and Sandvik.

GMG vice-chair, working groups, Andrew Scott praised the level of maturity in the industry,  saying, “GMG acts as a safe environment where true collaboration takes place. This project is a testament to that. [The project allows] competing companies to come together under the GMG banner to align the industry and drive a common direction.

“The Functional Safety for Autonomous Mining guideline project is truly a timely activity and will help accelerate support for autonomous systems.”

GMG will release details for the next workshop before the end of this year, with the guideline expected to be published in the second half of 2019.