Au­ton­o­mous heavy haul rail pi­lot suc­cess

Australian Transport News - - Contents -

Aus­tralia’s in­au­gu­ral fully au­to­mated rail run trans­ports iron ore for Rio Tinto

AUS­TRALIA’S FIRST FULLY au­ton­o­mous heavy haul rail jour­ney has been suc­cess­fully car­ried out in West­ern Aus­tralia.

The nearly 100km pi­lot was con­ducted by Rio Tinto as part of its Au­toHaul project to trans­port iron ore in the Pilbara re­gion.

The com­pany’s Au­toHaul project is fo­cused on fully au­tomat­ing trains that trans­port iron ore to four port fa­cil­i­ties by late 2018.

The project be­gan run­ning trains in au­ton­o­mous mode (with drivers on­board) in the fi rst quar­ter of 2017, with cur­rently about 50 per cent of pooled fl eet rail kilo­me­tres com­pleted in au­ton­o­mous mode.

The in­au­gu­ral fully au­to­mated rail run was com­pleted with­out a driver on board, with Rio Tinto teams and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the offi ce of the Na­tional Rail Safety Reg­u­la­tor closely mon­i­tor­ing the op­er­a­tions in real time, both on the ground and at the op­er­a­tions cen­tre in Perth.

Rio Tinto says the pi­lot run from Wom­bat Junc­tion to Parabur­doo is a “sig­nifi cant step to­ward full com­mis­sion­ing of Au­toHaul in 2018 once all rel­e­vant safety and ac­cep­tance cri­te­ria have been met and reg­u­la­tory ap­provals ob­tained”.

“This suc­cess­ful pi­lot run puts us fi rmly on track to meet our goal of op­er­at­ing the world’s fi rst fully au­ton­o­mous heavy-haul, longdis­tance rail net­work, which will un­lock sig­nifi cant safety and pro­duc­tiv­ity benefi ts for the busi­ness,” Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief ex­ec­u­tive Chris Sal­is­bury says.

“Gains from Au­toHaul are al­ready be­ing re­alised in­clud­ing re­duced vari­abil­ity and in­creased speed across the net­work, help­ing to re­duce av­er­age cy­cle times.

“Rio Tinto is proud to be a leader in in­no­va­tion and au­ton­o­mous tech­nol­ogy in the global min­ing in­dus­try which is de­liv­er­ing long- term com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tages as we build the mines of the fu­ture.

“New roles are be­ing cre­ated to man­age our fu­ture op­er­a­tions and we are pre­par­ing our cur­rent work­force for new ways of work­ing to en­sure they re­main part of our in­dus­try.”

The com­pany says its fo­cus on au­to­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy and in­no­va­tion is im­prov­ing safety, is bet­ter for the en­vi­ron­ment and boost­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity.

“We are pre­par­ing our cur­rent work­force for new ways of work­ing to en­sure they re­main part of our in­dus­try”

Chris Sal­is­bury

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