Vale looks set to have the first mine in Brazil operating entirely with autonomous trucks.
The company has been conducting a six-year long research and testing program which has seen seven autonomous truck transport iron ore from the mine to processing plant at the Brucutu mine in Brazil
In early 2019, Vale will look to have replaced its entire fleet with fully autonomous trucks, which will make it the first mine to operate autonomously in the country.
Based on technological market data, Vale expects to obtain an increase of around 15% in the equipment’s lifespan. Fuel consumption and maintenance costs are expected to decrease 10% and the average speed of trucks are expected to increase.
The autonomous operation also brings relevant environmental benefits. The economy of fuel used in the machines results in lower volume of CO2 and particulate emissions.
“The use of this type of technology is increasing in the world market, not only in the mining area. The use of autonomous equipment will bring gains in productivity and competitiveness for Vale and the Brazilian industry,” said Lúcio Cavalli, Ferrous Planning and Development Director.
The autonomous project is part of Vale in Industry 4.0, an ambitious digital transformation plan. Since 2016, the company has looked to adapt itself to Industry 4.0, which will allow the company to promote the integration between the business areas around the world, reduce costs, simplify processes, increase productivity and operational efficiency, and achieve the highest levels of health and safety.
The program is based on four pillars: Analytics, integrated systems and chains, robotization and autonomous equipment. The company is using Internet of Things, Advanced Analytics, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and mobile applications, among other technological innovations