Generation next

The new generation of intelligent Sandvik mining trucks teams up with the company’s industry-leading AutoMine and OptiMine automation and information management solutions to revolutionize haulage operations. Automated truck haulage offers tangible benefits in safety, productivity and profitability.

The mining truck is a proven standard solution for most underground haulage applications, as the 500,000 operating hours of automated Sandvik trucks over the past decade testify. Yet the workhorse of underground haulage is not immune from today’s pressures to innovate and evolve. Key trends include replacing diesel with lower-carbon fuel sources and growing reliance on sensors to monitor mobile assets. The new generation of Sandvik trucks replaces distributed and potentially hazardous underground operations with centralized hubs and autonomous vehicles.

The ‘smart’ Sandvik productivity approach is to operate fewer but bigger trucks – to accomplish more work with a smaller fleet amplified by automation. Furthermore, a smaller fleet of high-capacity trucks reduces underground congestion.

“Our capability to offer efficient matching three-pass loading productivity pairs of loaders and trucks over a capacity range of 15 to 63 tonnes, which greatly boosts overall productivity, is unique in the entire industry,” says Mark Ryan, product line manager for underground trucksat Sandvik. “The newest additions are Sandvik TH551i, with a capacity of 51 tonnes for tunnel sizes of 5 x 5 metres, and Sandvik TH663i, with a capacity of 63 tonnes for tunnel sizes of 6 x 6 metres.”

All the new features and upgrades aim at tangible improvements in safety, productivity and profitability.

“More advanced mining automation is a key to many of the new improvements,” says Jarkko Ruokojärvi, product line manager for automation at Sandvik. “The vehicle control and management system of the new trucks is fully integrated with both the AutoMine Trucking system for entirely autonomous haulage traffic and the OptiMine system for data collection and reporting. This built-in automation readiness with the AutoMine onboard package ensures quick and easy installation and start-up even as a retrofit.”

OptiMine complements AutoMine Trucking with a data collection and reporting capability to provide visibility over the entire haulage fleet. Production, utilization and condition KPIs can be visualized and analyzed to support production decisions and predictive maintenance.

Tech specs – Sandvik TH551i

  • Payload capacity: 51,000 kg
  • Dump box, standard: 28 m3
  • Dump box range: 24–30 m3
  • Total operating weight: 41,000 kg
  • Max speed: 35.8 km/h
  • Diesel engine: Volvo TAD1642VE-B
  • Engine output: 515 kW (691 hp)
  • Emissions: Tier 2 (optionally Tier 4i, Euro Stage III B)
  • Transmission: Allison 6625 series
  • Axles: Kessler D106 series
  • Automation: AutoMine onboard package and OptiMine data collection unit fully integrated with equipment design

The system supports conventional USB data transfer, Wi-Fi networks and also data-bearer application for handheld devices in areas with no network coverage. As a modular solution, OptiMine can be expanded to include location tracking, scheduling and task management functionalities.

AutoMine Trucking enables both haulage level and decline ramp applications. An isolated haulage loop of autonomous trucks can cover several underground areas. In decline ramp use, a specific ramp is isolated for autonomous trucks. While unmanned haulage during shift changes and blast clearing is an obvious application, continuous autonomous operation is also possible by dedicating an entire decline for truck haulage. The resulting automated production cycle is supervised from a remote location, potentially with multiple units under each system operator. The higher utilization rate, boosted by added operational hours, directly translates to a higher tonnage.

Improved safety is another key driver for increasing mining automation. Removing people from potentially hazardous areas simply means less risk. AutoMine Trucking relocates equipment operators from the underground mine environment to an ergonomic control room. Working alone is eliminated, which further reduces fatigue. In this context, “remote” can mean anything from the mine office at the surface to the nearest town.

<p>OptiMine complements AutoMine Trucking with a data collection and reporting capability to provide visibility over the entire haulage fleet.</p>

OptiMine complements AutoMine Trucking with a data collection and reporting capability to provide visibility over the entire haulage fleet.

Additional safety features include a proximity detection system interface for flexible connectivity with third-party control systems. A trainer seat helps ensure the safety of new crew members learning their job in real-life conditions. The on-board jacking system, tyre monitoring system and easy ground-level access for maintenance tasks improve the efficiency and safety of the maintenance crew.

A key productivity feature of the new trucks is the integrated weighing system (IWS). As mines go deeper and tramming distances increase, assessing payloads by guesswork is not sufficient anymore. Every tonne counts and each haulage trip must consistently carry a full payload.

Tech specs – Sandvik TH663i

  • Payload capacity: 63,000 kg
  • Dump box, standard: 36.0 m3
  • Dump box range: 24–40 m3
  • Total operating weight: 45,000 kg
  • Max. speed: 31.3 km/h
  • Diesel engine: Volvo TAD1643VE-B with diesel particulate filter (optionally Cummins QSK 19)
  • Engine output: 565 kW (758 hp) (optionally 567 kW/760 hp)
  • Emissions: Tier 2 (optionally Tier 1, Euro Stage I)
  • Transmission: Allison 6625 series
  • Axles: Kessler D106 series, wider axles
  • Automation: AutoMine onboard package and OptiMine data collection unit fully integrated with equipment design

IWS has provided consistent accuracy rates of 93 to 94 percent in operational use since 2013.

Sandvik TH663i has wider axles, which increase truck stability by 15 percent. This enables an upgrade to a new, larger and stronger 40-cubic-metre dump box from the standard size of 36 cubic metres.

In terms of profitability, the new intelligent mine trucks essentially offer increased production with no increase in fixed costs. Multi-machine control and improved operating discipline can reduce operating costs by up to 50 percent.

Better availability and improved performance mean that mines can achieve the same production volume with fewer trucks.

The addition of four to eight productive hours each day, which otherwise would be wasted for blast clearance, can increase production by as much as 30 percent compared with earlier Sandvik trucks.

A site trial in early 2017 at a northern European mine operating in highly demanding conditions verified the benefits of the new intelligent mining trucks teamed up with AutoMine Trucking.

New, deeper-lying ore bodies represent a cost-effectiveness challenge for this mine; nevertheless, a temperature difference of up to 60 degrees Celsius between the underground and surface areas did not cause any reliability problems. The team of an automated loader and truck enabled continuous operation during blast clearance, and yielded a production increase of 10–15 percent, validating the viability of the concept in a demanding ramp haulage application.

Benefits

  • Up to 30 percent higher productivity compared with earlier models thanks to continuous operation, less downtime, consistent output, high-speed production, extensive tracking and reporting possibilities
  • Up to 50 percent lower opex and capex thanks to reduced damage, multi-machine control, smaller fleet and extended unit lifetime
  • Improved safety for operators and maintenance crews thanks to isolated surface work areas and better ergonomics
  • Substantial sustainability benefits through the potential to cut back the haulage fleet: fuel and consumable savings, lower emissions
  • Tested reliability even in extreme environmental conditions