RCT won last year’s innovative mining solution award for its ControlMaster Independent Guidance system for underground operations – an expansion of one of its earlier models.
Back in 2010, the company first released the ControlMaster Guidance solution, which fits to underground loaders and trucks to ensure they don’t come in contact with any walls or obstacles. It helps operators increase their cycle times and reduces machine damage to increase productivity.
From there, the company released the now award-winning system – the Independent Guidance Solution – which allows operators to set a predetermined path into the system and with the simple push of a button, the machine travels by itself to its intended destination. The system automatically controls the machine’s steering, speed and brakes, using laser technology to keep the machine on a centre path to avoid walls and other obstacles. It can be installed on all types and brands of underground loaders and trucks; increasing speeds, reducing damage and improving bottom line profit.
There were 160 Independent Guidance solutions working globally by the end of 2016. RCT’s head of product management, Dave Holman said there was a positive response from customers due to the immediate gains in production they had experienced.
“The systems have been used right throughout all our global regions, including Australia -through the Goldfields and eastern hard rock regions to New South Wales, and up through Queensland – as well as into the African region, up into China and Russia,” he said.
On top of that, the newer Independent Guidance solution also achieved global recognition, with the successful deployment of the system at a site in Russia, in which it performed extremely well in very poor conditions, bringing an added boost to the company.
“Since the release of Independent Guidance at the beginning of last year, it’s had a fairly rapid take-up and clients are now looking at upgrading their existing systems,” Holman said.
“There’s been about a 50 per cent conversion from Guidance to Independent Guidance since its release and we are finding that new clients are now opting for the new solution going forward, so there’s been a great response so far.”
Winners for innovation
From its beginning in Kalgoorlie in the late 1970s, RCT has maintained its mission to ensure all workers are removed from harm by developing remote controlled technologies as a solution. Holman said the company had always been innovating in the mining region – particularly when it comes to mobile equipment.
“We’ve always been an innovation driven company, our people are our assets within our business,” he said.
“We have a great depth of knowledge of the industry and technology solutions, so when we match them together we are very strong in supplying long term, sustainable machine solutions that help increase productivity throughout the mining market.”
Highlights for 2016
Over the past year the company noted several key achievements.
In 2016, the company expanded its distribution into South America, entering a distribution agreement with Chilean company Fasser to deliver its auto-electrical line of products throughout Chile and Peru. This was particularly effective as it came at a time of weak economic conditions in the copper industry, which warranted a range of solutions to reduce costs on site, while enhancing the safety of mobile equipment operators.
RCT’s Custom team showcased its extensive capabilities when retrofitting an old dozer with its ControlMaster Line-of-Sight remote when other remote control companies said it was virtually impossible.
The company also celebrated its two-year anniversary with Activ Foundation, which provides employment for people living with a disability. Activ Foundation is Western Australia’s largest employer of people with a disability. Of its 15 locations, Activ’s business in Kewdale is next to RCT headquarters in Perth, and since their partnership it has been helping RCT package electronic component kits, pressure switches and looms, which are then transported worldwide.
A time of expansion
Over the past three years, RCT has been undertaking a global expansion with positive results, particularly in Russia.
“We’re having a very strong growth through the Russian market, which has been a very big highlight for us,” Holman said.
The company also expanded into North America, with its solutions and technology base also experiencing high take-up rates and positive feedback.
Looking forward in 2017, the company is focusing on growing its new Salt Lake City branch in Utah, United States.
“We’re now growing a team of people through that region and our focus for the next 12 months is putting together a sustainable long-term plan that gives us successful growth.”
The company is also expanding its products across more machine types and models.
“What RCT has done with our successful Independent Guidance solution for underground loaders and trucks has really proven that technology can play a major role in mining,” Holman said.
“So our aim now is to expand this technology base into other machine applications.”
Innovation is key
With innovation increasingly a central part of the mining industry, Holman reflected on how implementing innovative technologies in the sector, especially in Australia, has been slower.
“Australia’s been quite good at it [innovation] but in the past technology has taken a backseat role when it comes to mining and its only just been recently – and recently I mean probably the last three to five years – that the mining industry is reaching out and looking at other industries and seeing what technology, or how technology, is playing a role in their business, and how is it improving their business,” he said.
However, this mentality has recently seen a greater shift, with companies looking at technology during critical planning stages of their operations.
“Technology is the main topic of discussion at all mine planning meetings now.” Holman said.
“Companies are now starting to plan with the consideration that technology is going to play a major role.”
A final note
Commenting on the company’s win at the Prospect Awards, Holman said it was an acknowledgment of the hard work of RCT’s employees.
“These awards are very good recognition for our people who put in a lot of time and effort to put together these solutions to ensure they work effectively and efficiently,” he said.
“I would encourage all companies that are thinking of entering in the Prospect Awards for 2017 to do so, and good luck to their efforts.”