Fortescue reaches automation milestone

Fortescue has rolled out its 100th autonomous haul truck conversion at its Chichester Hub in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Complete conversion of its 108 haul truck fleet at the Chichester Hub is expected to complete in September this year.

A total of 549,500 parts have been fitted to 100 trucks in the Chichester Hub where the Christmas Creek and Cloudbreak mines are located.

Fortescue first introduced Autonomous Haulage System (AHS) technology in 2012, with 168 trucks being converted in its Solomon and Chichester Hubs and have moved 1.4 billion tonnes of material.

The company claimed the introduction of autonomous haulage at its operations had resulted in a 30 per cent increase in productivity levels.

“Fortescue’s AHS deployment represents the largest fleet conversion to autonomous haulage in the industry,” Fortescue chief executive Elizabeth Gaines said.

“Our history of embracing leading edge technology has ensured Fortescue remains at the lowest end of the global cost curve and remains fundamental to driving sustained productivity and efficiency improvements across our business to ensure we continue to deliver enhanced returns for our shareholders and key stakeholders.

“Most importantly, the introduction of AHS technology has improved safety outcomes across our operations and we’re very pleased that the automated mining projects team has also achieved this important milestone in the truck conversion program with zero harm to any team members.”

Development of Fortescue’s workforce has been a priority for the company as it introduces its automation project.

Many of the company’s workers have transferred or upskilled to new roles in the business through Fortescue’s training and redeployment program.

“Training is at the heart of everything we do at Fortescue and as we continue the integration of autonomous trucks across our sites, this ethos has guided our efforts to ensure no redundancies due to automation and to deliver significant benefits to employees from the opportunities offered by this project,” Gaines said.

Fortescue claimed it is the first in the world to retrofit Caterpillar’s MineStar Command technology on a CAT 789D and Komatsu 930E haul truck.

The company’s 168 autonomous trucks have travelled more than 47 million kilometres since the introduction of AHS.

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