In 1965, Bob Muirhead was a young electrical apprentice in the mining industry in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. Confronted by very personal experiences – his best friend lost his father in a mine accident – and seeing a underground worker one week, who was crushed the next week, he felt compelled to explore a different way of doing things.
At the time, the mining industry in Kalgoorlie averaged up to six fatalities a year in underground mining and this seemed to be an accepted ‘side effect’ of the industry.
After starting his business in 1972, Bob designed and experimented with a fail-safe engine protection system (now known as Muirhead®) that would improve the reliability of underground mine equipment, as well as making mines more productive. Bob rapidly developed other products with similar benefits, and “Bob Muirhead Electrical” was born.
The products had remarkable potential, but lacked the industry visibility. Driven by a deep desire to take products to a wider client base, and combined with his avid interest in flying light aircraft, he set out to create new markets – Broken Hill, Cobar and the Pilbara (North West of Western Australia).
By 1987, Muirhead Electrical had joined with two other local mine supply businesses and formed a publicly listed company, taking on its new identity as “Automotive Industrial Mining Supplies”.
The business grew and expanded, however underground mining fatalities still presented real risks until reliable technology was developed to enable remote control abilities.
In 1988, they took over the ControlMaster® remote control technology, using its technical capability to make the system reliable and ensure high productivity from dangerous underground mining areas.
This opportunity of removing people from harms way became the foundation blocks for RCT.
With its machinery protection products already creating step change in the industry, RCT went from strength to strength in remote control technology – but still fatalities were occurring.
Bob, who by now was surrounded by a loyal and talented team, some who had evolved alongside him from apprentices, was determined to do whatever it took to get mine employees into a safe work environment.
With that notion and driving inspiration, RCT became the first company to commercially introduce Teleremote operations into the Australian mining industry. It was a truly remarkable and industry-leading accomplishment.
Surface remote control was also becoming recognised as a way to mine unsafe work areas. RCT developed its capability to remote control dozers. This led to a ground breaking opportunity to remote control dozers in New Guinea at the challenging Ok Tedi mine. Only one other company had accomplished anything like it – no one knew for sure if it could even be done.
A small team of RCT’s best talent at the time, and initially led by Bob, went up to New Guinea, determined to succeed. And succeed they did.
RCT’s confidence grew as their market presence expanded further into Broken Hill, Mount Isa, and a big move into Queensland’s mining industry. RCT’s achievements spoke for itself.
RCT started attracting recognition on a global scale; the underground mining sectors in Africa and Latin America were demanding RCT “because they preferred our remote to anyone else’s, plus we could service it better than anyone else,” a long-standing employee recalls.
It was a big shift for the West Australian company, however, never shy of big challenges, RCT was driven to expand globally.
In 2002, Bob structured a private investor group to enable private ownership of the company “Remote Control Technologies” (RCT). The intention was to preserve the family-like, ‘can-do’ attitude and culture that had enabled many talented employees to remain long-term with the company. RCT has always been underpinned with remarkable talent, commitment to clients and a thirst to thrive on exploring ‘the possible’…what can be achieved.
This is evidenced by many of RCT’s management today, who began as apprentices in a backyard shed, in the 1970s. As one executive says, “What really motivated us, is that we were all young guys given huge responsibility. You just got on with it. We were apprentices and empowered to develop our potential and capability as people. Ideas and innovation were always encouraged.”
Over time, brands have been developed and added to the RCT portfolio, including AusProTec™ and EarthTrack®. Based on strong client relationships and dialogue, ControlMaster has evolved to include improvements such as Guidance systems, which were added in January 2010 after extensive underground trials. These innovations deliver real value and results for clients.
Beyond the innovative and smart technology, RCT has built a reputation for excellence in client service. Our people have the “can-do” attitude. RCT’s best success came from listening to client’s problems and working in a truly collaborative effort, involving research, innovation, design, manufacturing, installation and training teams, to deliver end-to-end solutions, fit for purpose, anywhere in the world.
Today, RCT is a global leader, and the Australasian market leader in smart Guidance, Teleremote and Remote Control automation solutions for the mining industry.
Remote Control Technologies has outgrown its name for all the products it offers, and in 2015, rebranded as RCT.
Throughout RCT’s journey, the vision of RCT’s Founder remains the same: create smart technology, which is fit for purpose and this will always achieve tangible results – increased profits, productivity and safety.