World-first autonomous battery-electric Rham loader delivered to African mine


In what is believed to be a word-first, RCT together with equipment manufacturer Rham Equipment has deployed the first fully autonomous battery-electric Rham loader into the African mining sector.

This impressive technological feat saw RCT work with Rham to specifically engineer the automated loader to effortlessly work in height-restricted drives in a South African platinum mining operation.

RCT’s market-leading ControlMaster® automation technology was seamlessly integrated with the Rham ultra-low profile (ULP) 25HD battery-electric loader with the package installed at Rham’s factory, prior to the loader’s deployment to the site.

This project perfectly showcases ControlMaster® as a proven interoperable automation platform that can be integrated across any mobile equipment make, type or model.

With the technology established onsite, the loader operators are able to manage Load Haul Dump (LHD) operations from the safety of a ControlMaster® Automation Centre on the mine’s surface.

In addition to this RCT interfaced with the Rham dash display and replicated it on the Automation Centre, to provide the operator with important machine health information.

The project also includes the implementation of RCT Connect, a specialised underground communications network designed to enhance autonomous fleet operations.

Rham Managing Director Kevin Reynders commented: “This joint venture project has run effortlessly creating safer machines for our miners.”

“Rham Equipment, a Level 3 B-BBEE South African, (Pty) Limited Company, has been producing specialised mining equipment since 1980. The company has been providing the South African mining industry with quality products and top-of-the-range services for the past four decades.”

“The product range includes underground transporters, excavators, load haul dumpers, dump trucks, roof bolters and conveyor drives, to name but a few. To date, Rham Equipment has supplied over 2000 units to some of the most prominent South African platinum, gold- and coal mines who we count amongst our customer portfolios,” Mr Reynders said.

“The South African mining industry is well developed and prides itself on its technological development, productivity, and safety, and in line with this philosophy the company has built an enviable reputation as the supplier of choice, producing products that are durable, safe and cost-effective.

By keeping all our manufacturing in-house allows RHAM to control the quality of all our workmanship giving customers that all important peace of mind.”

“Now in its fourth decade of operation, the company continues to develop new products to best suit the needs of our customers.”

RCT Business Development Manager for Africa Mike Thomas said the project represented an important milestone on many fronts.

“We are very pleased to work with Rham Equipment to deliver this project and we regard them as a highly competent and organised OEM with a skilled workforce who can deliver high-quality technology.”

“ControlMaster® has an extensive history integrating with diesel powered equipment, but this project proves that the technology can interface seamlessly with battery-electric mobile machines,” he said.

“Battery-electric equipment fleets can significantly reduce a mining operation’s carbon footprint while eliminating the costs associated with diesel consumption, so we expect to see a greater uptake of the technology around the world."

“The technology will relocate the machine operators to a safe working area on the mine’s surface while enabling optimised autonomous machine operations.”

“A cornerstone of ControlMaster® is its ability to integrate with any machine and this project proves that our technology can interface with Rham’s loader, which is an entirely new machine for us.”

RCT’s technical team will empower mine site personnel with comprehensive training and technical support to operate and maintain the equipment going forward.

The project demonstrates RCT’s automation technology can successfully integrate with battery-electric mining equipment and is an important step toward delivering an autonomous, carbon-friendly mining fleet of the future.

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