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Automated Lorries to Take Over Australian Mining Back Load Haulage

1 June, 2013: Automated 'drone' lorries are expected to be performing the bulk of the Australian mining industry's back load haulage in a matter of a few years. A few representatives of such roboticized entities are already present in some of the country's mines, and this tendency is expected to increase over the next few years. 

Two mining companies plan to implement autonomous haulers in their mines by the end of the year, and a third already has about 30 'drones' operating on one of theirs. This latter is also seemingly interested in expanding their mechanized fleet, with a reported 140 'drones' being ordered from a factory in Japan to be delivered over the next four years. 

These autonomous dumping and hauling systems are equipped with on-board intelligence, perception techniques, GPS's and optimized fuel consumption and tyre life technologies. 

They are supported by autonomous, remotely-controlled train transportation and automated underground mining systems which bring about lesser shift changes and reduce worker fatigue. The overall result of these innovations is a safer mine with a more efficient back load transportation system and better productivity. 

To help operate and maintain these highly advanced 'drones' – some built by well-known companies such as Caterpillar – Australian mines will be employing an equally highly specialized workforce, which will operate the remote-controlled equipment off-site. This will, in turn, reduce the need for off-site infrastructures and expensive mass transportation arrangements in order to fly employees in and out of remote areas. 

It is important to remember, however, that these machines bring about a series of legal and commercial implications mine owners should take into account when modernising their extraction sites. 

Issues such as intellectual property rights, health and safety requirements, performance quotas, tax and dispute resolutions must not be overlooked when implementing these drones. 

For information on back load haulage, contact Haulage Exchange at www.haulageexchange.co.uk or 020 8896 6725. 

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