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In November, Vale will begin the testing phase for the implementation of two autonomous off-road trucks at the Carajás mine. The innovation comes together with actions of development and training of mine professionals to follow the world trend of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, also called industry 4.0.

In autonomous operation, trucks are controlled by computer systems, GPS, radars and artificial intelligence and monitored by operators in control rooms miles away from operations, which brings even more safety to the activity.

When detecting risks, the equipment stops its operations until the path is cleared. The security system's sensors are capable of detecting both larger objects such as large rocks and other trucks, as well as human beings in the vicinity of the road.

According to Antonio Padovezi, Vale's North Corridor director, in addition to the safety factor, the use of autonomous equipment at Carajás, the world's largest open-pit iron ore mine, will ensure greater sustainability for Brazilian mining.

"It is another advance that brings social, environmental and economic gains, reduces the exposure of employees to risks, increases competitiveness, reduces the emission of pollutant gases and also boosts training and evolution of professional skills, following a natural and experienced trend in the market today around the world. "

Antônio Padovezi

Training and Operation

The implementation of the autonomous operation has been taking place in conjunction with people development actions, which includes the creation of a training center in the city of Parauapebas by the supplier.

The definitive start-up of production is expected to occur at the end of the first half of 2020. All professionals who will interact with the autonomous equipment will be trained. The Carajás mine will operate part autonomously, but will also continue with conventional operation. The results will be evaluated for the expansion of the fleet.

It is estimated that by 2024 37 autonomous trucks will be operating in Carajás, which represents about 40% of the current fleet.

Success stories

Autonomous trucks

The novelty has already been implemented in the Brucutu mine, in São Gonçalo do Rio Abaixo (MG), which this year started to operate only with autonomous off-road trucks, totaling 13 pieces of equipment.

All operators who drove these trucks in a manned manner were relocated to other functions.

Part of the team was relocated to the management and control of autonomous equipment and another part assumed new occupations from technology or were relocated to other areas.

Success stories

Autonomous trucks

 

The novelty has already been implemented in the Brucutu mine, in São Gonçalo do Rio Abaixo (MG), which this year started to operate only with autonomous off-road trucks, totaling 13 pieces of equipment.

All operators who drove these trucks in a manned manner were relocated to other functions.

Part of the team was relocated to the management and control of autonomous equipment and another part assumed new occupations from technology or were relocated to other areas.

Autonomous drillings

The same concept of Brucutu was successfully applied in Carajás in the project for autonomous drilling operation in July 2018. Three of 11 drilling equipment operating in the Carajás mine are already operating autonomously. Nine years ago, Ana Paula Lemos was a conventional drill operator in front of the mine, received training and a year ago, became the first woman to control autonomous equipment in Carajás.

Today it monitors the drill of a control room located about 5 km from the mine. "In the autonomous, we are in an environment with less exposure to risks, far from the movement of machines and traffic. I tried to learn, not to be afraid and it is easier to command for those who already have manned work experience, who know the machine. When I had the opportunity, I really embraced the cause and I feel privileged to be, for now, the first woman to operate remotely ”, describes the Parauapebense.

Digital Transformation

 

The autonomous truck operation is part of a digital transformation program initiated by Vale in 2016 to advance in Industry 4.0. This development favors safety, increases operational efficiency and international competitiveness.

Among the technological innovations developed by the company are Artificial Intelligence, mobile applications, robotics and autonomous equipment (such as trucks and drills).

Competitiveness

Based on technology market data, Vale expects to achieve significant results with this initiative.
15% increase in equipment service life
10% reduction in fuel consumption and maintenance costs
Increased average truck speed
The fuel savings used in the machines also results in a lower volume of CO2 and particulate emissions and also reduces the generation of waste such as parts, tires and lubricants.