Industry Views: OEMs Have Their Say on Innovation

“The pandemic has been an accelerating element in the transition of mining companies towards increasingly autonomous operations. The prevention protocols aimed at limiting the transmission of the virus have led to a reduction in the capacity in offices and workplaces and, therefore, new means and locations have been necessary so that workers, not only administrative but also operational, can comply with their work in a safe way and in a controlled environment.

Both in surface mining and in underground mining, the number of projects that include different levels of automation of our equipment has grown very significantly during the pandemic, not only in those that require new drilling machines, but also in retrofit projects for existing machines, incorporating remote and even autonomous operation functionalities into said machines.

As an example, the Level 6 of Automation or Total Autonomy of Epiroc’s production drilling equipment in surface mines allows us to operate our well-known Pit Vipers from hundreds of kilometers away, both from an office and from the operator's home”

Ángel Tobar, General Manager – Andean Region, Epiroc

“We offer a range of solutions including remote assistance and remote conditioning monitoring that permit the digital maintenance management of the fleet and increase uptime. KOMTRAX is Komatsu's remote monitoring system that lets you monitor all the essential information about your Komatsu equipment directly on your computer, and Immersive Technologies kits (simulators for operators training) and Komvision help increase safety and improving productivity, allowing the operator to have 360 degree vision and prevent collisions.

Komatsu’ SMARTCONSTRUCTION is a package of solutions that help and improve the service and performance of vehicles via a remote controlled drone system. The UAVs collect data that helps to manage the safety and precision of Komatsu’s and other brands equipment, allowing the operator to become more efficient. All of these technologies fall under the umbrella of ‘One Komatsu’, the companies philosophy to integrate operations instead of working in silos”

Tomás Martínez, CEO, Komatsu-Mitsui Maquinarias Del Peru (KMMP)

“Mechanization in underground mining is a constant process and it is a road of no return. Once you have mechanized a process, you will not go back to the manual alternative. It requires less people, it is safer and more efficient, with lower costs. Anything that is not mechanized is left outside this new standard, so the challenge is to incorporate all the processes, little by little, to the mechanized workflow. The charging of the explosives is one of the processes that is still pending, so we see an important window of opportunity there. The shotcrete spraying is already highly mechanized, but the industry needs new specialized equipment for different tasks related to logistics, to make the whole process faster and more efficient. After that, a step further is automation and digitalization.”

Franklin Pease, General Manager, Normet Peru

“Resemin offers what I would call disruptive machines that are unique in the market. The simple design and ease of use is attractive for underground operations that are complicated to operate in. The big OEMs talk about automation, but full automation can make machines less “confident” or reliable, because it requires a lot of sensors, and narrow vein underground mining is the worst environment for this due to the corrosion, humidity and dust.

In 2021, we have requested a patent and are launching a brand new system to perform scaling with a jumbo. Normally this is a hazardous practice because falling rocks destroy the machine, but Resemin’s new T-Pointer system will reduce this risk.”

James Valenzuela, CEO, Resemin S.A.