Roy Hill unveils technology to ensure safety at iron ore operations

Iron ore company Roy Hill has introduced the first dynamic, multiple Geofence package that has been interfaced to fixed and mobile asset elements within the boundaries of the coarse ore stockpile.

The Geofence technology was interfaced with two D11T Caterpillar dozers and the radial stacker infrastructure, including the boom, which can be manoeuvred in multiple directions.

Both dozers were equipped with RCT’s ControlMaster Teleremote solutions, which removed the operator from the machine and relocated them to an operator station, equipped with vision package from the area. This allows them to control all machine functions from an ergonomic, safe environment.

In addition to the five cameras on the dozers, six PTZ cameras were installed at the site on the COS stacker, tertiary crusher infrastructure and two mobile communications trailers to give operators greater spatial awareness during operation.

The decision to install a virtual perimeter around the dozer stockpile area was to safeguard operators and to ensure the machines can operate in the same area seamlessly without any risk of collision, with the fixed stacker infrastructure or the dozers falling into vaults or driving off the stockpile boundary.

The interfacing of all the dynamic elements on the one site was achieved in partnership with Sitech’s Collision Detection technology — Trimble GNSS and RCT Custom. There were many factors that had to be taken into consideration for the Geofence to work effectively.

Multiple workshops and risk assessments were carried out, both independently and most importantly collaboratively, to define the Geofence boundaries or virtual perimeters within each element.

This included the two dozers, the movement of the stacker boom and the five vaults. The boundaries were also designed to be configurable with the correct level of authorisation in the system, allowing flexibility for the operators.

The SiTrack software was designed to provide the Geofence boundaries, monitor all interactions and provide alerts within the boundaries allowing the RCT system’s semi-autonomous control over the two dozers.

Integration resulted in the creation of a variety of configurable Geofence boundaries within the site to prevent fixed assets and the dozers. Each boundary has different zones to alert the operators of potential danger – green, blue, orange and red.

RCT Custom’s project manager David Wright described the project as both challenging and rewarding.

“A number of factors had to be considered throughout the duration of the project. This included integrating Roy Hill’s technical architecture and communications system and designing and creating a number of engineering solutions to meet the requirements,” Wright said.

Carrying out dozer functions via Teleremote control from the operating stations eliminates the risks operators are exposed to at the coarse ore stockpile and processing plant, reduces operator fatigue and as a result increases productivity.

A Roy Hill spokesperson said that Teleremote dozers using the Geofence collision avoidance system exemplified what can be achieved through collaboration.

“The Teleremote project had several challenges to be overcome. In particular, the vision package had to be installed within the planned process plant shut intervals — every little step was critical to be rigorously planned for,” the spokesperson said.

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