Industry-first dust control system supports mining autonomy

Dust control specialist Global Road Technology (GRT) is launching an industry-first dust control system developed specifically to support the optimal usage of autonomous vehicles and equipment across the mining sector.

Designed to work hand-in-hand with the autonomous haul and water trucks that are becoming increasingly prevalent at mine sites to drive productivity, the Australian-made GRT: Haul-Loc dust control system effectively manages dust while helping to maintain the haul roads that are vital to the smooth running of mining projects.

It achieves this by reducing what the industry calls ‘slow’ or ‘stop’ events where the self-driving vehicles are impacted by deteriorating road conditions caused by a variety of factors including slippage (overwatering) and dust pollution that impacts motion sensors and other instruments that direct the vehicles.

This in-turn hinders the ability of autonomous mining trucks to safely navigate the road, bringing their journey to a halt due to the inability of the self-driving software to successfully circumvent certain obstacles – an issue that can significantly impact the operations of an entire mine site and its profitability.

According to GRT general manager Daniel Grundy, the GRT: Haul-Loc system is designed as a serviced hardware and product solution for resource companies which resolves a number of issues encumbering the effective use of remote-controlled vehicles and equipment on mine sites.

“Usage of autonomous vehicles and equipment is transforming the entire resource sector as Internet of Things (IoT) enables mining companies to drive profitability due to the fact there is less downtime when humans are not required,” Grundy said.

“However, the key challenge is that these ‘tools’ require optimum conditions to operate effectively and even the slightest obstacles, whether it’s dust pollution or road slippage, will impede their ability to function.

“The reality is that mining sites are impacted by a range of environmental and physical factors … this is where our SMART Dosing Units coupled with GRT: Haul-Loc comes in as it is designed to address the challenges that autonomous haul trucks (AHT) encounter.”

GRT’s SMART Dosing Unit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The GRT: Haul-Loc System was developed by GRT as a specific response to address ineffective haul road maintenance that impacts the ability of AHT’s to operate at maximum efficacy.

Some of the core issues GRT: Haul-Loc addresses include reducing the need for water trucks (used to settle the dust caused by mining vehicles and activity) or graders (used to maintain the roads) to be in the vicinity of AHTs reducing potential vehicle-on-vehicle accidents.

It also ensures AHT’s are not impacted by loss of traction as it reduces soil subsistence and ensures the roads maintain their gradient. This means the vehicles do not detect rutting or spillage as obstacles which delay or halt their journeys until they successfully navigate the issue.

For Grundy, the benefits of the Haul-Loc system are derived from GRT’s ‘whole-of-site’ philosophy around dust control.

“Our entire approach is based on placing dust suppression as a core pillar in ensuring the operational effectiveness of a mine site,” Grundy said.

“Dust control is critical due to the fact it is not just a hazard to workers, but also impacts the usage and application of the transformative technologies being developed to drive efficiencies across mine sites.

“The GRT: Haul-Loc system is just the latest iteration of our approach to reducing dust as a hazard. It is applied to the most advanced technology, which we’ve developed from our strong knowledge base having worked to reduce air pollution for over a decade.

The Haul-Loc system is underpinned by holistic view of dust suppression, enabling users to be proactive in their response the safety concern.

“Our ultimate goal is to eliminate dust as a worksite hazard by addressing issues that cause its spread in the first place,” Grundy said.

“From an advocacy standpoint, it is validating for us as a business that the issue of particulate pollution is now of global importance and recognised as a major public health issue.

“Our work across Australia and internationally sees us applying a best practice approach to managing dust as a hazard. This makes us one of the few companies creating solutions that address the issue in a manner that ensures workers, communities, nearby farmers, and the environment aren’t negatively impacted by mining activity.”

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