Tele-remote innovation paves way for autonomous loaders

Siobhan Doyle

A battery-electric underground loader now features an advanced tele-remote system with autonomous functionalities.

Swedish company Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions has integrated its AutoMine tele-remote system into the battery-electric underground loader Toro LH518iB. The loader, equipped with advanced automation capabilities, underwent rigorous factory testing and was delivered to customers in the first half of 2023, with AutoMine compatibility rolling out in the second half.

Building on its predecessor, the Sandvik LH518B, the Toro LH518iB features design enhancements and improved field serviceability. The latest version of Sandvik’s intelligent control system enables AutoMine readiness. Additionally, Sandvik’s patented self-swapping battery system, including AutoSwap and AutoConnect functions, has been refined to facilitate quicker battery swaps, enhancing safety and productivity underground.

Sandvik’s AutoMine solution enables remote control and supervision of multiple automated underground drills and loaders simultaneously, enhancing safety, efficiency, and overall productivity. The Toro LH518iB is automation ready and can be equipped with Sandvik’s AutoMine system. Standard valves, harnesses, and other built-in hardware for automation are included, with the AutoMine onboard kit available as an option, providing scanners, AutoMine box, and wireless connectivity.

With AutoMine, one operator can manage the entire cycle from a surface chair, including tele-remote battery swapping. The tele-remote system offers ring-to-ring tramming capabilities, enabling seamless control and coordination of drills, loaders, and trucks operating in the same area, enhancing flexibility and mining output.

Prioritising safety, AutoMine incorporates an enhanced Access Protector System, preventing personnel from entering the machine area while the system is in operation. Sami Anttila, product manager of Longhole Production Drilling at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, emphasised the system’s deep integration and cooperation between underground equipment, leading to improved machine and fleet utilisation in remote operation.

The Toro LH518iB battery loader delivers 600kW of drivetrain power for quick acceleration, fast ramp speeds, and efficient bucket filling, with minimal heat and zero underground exhaust emissions. Its lithium-iron phosphate battery chemistry supports sustainability goals by reducing CO2 emissions and lowering ventilation needs.

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