Roy Hill’s multi-billion-dollar iron ore project is now home to the first dynamic multiple Geofence package to have been successfully interfaced to fixed and mobile asset elements within the boundaries of the Coarse Ore Stockpile (COS), and RCT is proud to have played a big part in this momentous achievement.
The Geofence technology was successfully and safely interfaced with two D11T CAT dozers and the radial stacker infrastructure, including the boom which can be maneuvered 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; allowing 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 dozers 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 – a team dedicated to creating and delivering adaptable, bespoke integrated solutions from the company’s existing technology.
There were a large number of 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. This was achieved by using High Precision (HP) GNSS equipment to measure and detect the proximity of the moving assets in the potentially hazardous stockpile to an absolute accuracy of around the +/-25mm range. While the software utilises the accuracies of these solutions, it had to be teamed with a bespoke software solution to provide the operator with the ability to control the dozers, semi-autonomously operating with RCT’s ControlMaster® Teleremote system in order to avoid the possibility of collision between the two dozers and other dynamic elements.
RCT Custom worked with SITECH and Roy Hill to develop and deploy the dynamic Geofence system to interface with the ControlMaster® Teleremote solutions to ensure machine functionality is inhibited by the ControlMaster® system at different levels of detection on the SiTRACK system.
The 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,” he said.
The installation, implementation, commissioning and acceptance of the project all involved RCT liaising with numerous departments at Roy Hill including, engineering, operations, mining, maintenance and IT communications teams.
“The process was made easier thanks to everyone’s willingness to work together in a collaborative manner,” said Mr Wright.
With vision being fed from numerous PTZ and dozer cameras, the dozer pitch/roll machine dashboard information and the Trimble tablet display, Roy Hill decided bigger screens were required to cater to the extensive vision available to operators.
As a result, the operator station went from having two, 24-inch screens and a 17-inch Trimble tablet to, two 40-inch curve screens, with a 32-inch display for the Trimble screen. A Trimble tablet was also relocated to the side of the operator chair.
“The bigger screens provide the operators with a better resolution of what they are seeing; giving the dozer operators a more advanced level of information to assist in daily operations,” said Mr Wright.
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. In addition, the Teleremote solution allows for multiple views from the dozer, which in turn allows them to be more efficient throughout the duration of their shift as well as minimising machine damage and overall general wear and tear. The downtime associated with shift changes decreases which further aids productivity as there is more time spent in the “driver’s seat.”
In addition to the deployment of the solution, RCT delivered training to ensure the operators maximise the solution’s potential and appropriate site personnel are familiar with how it works. Operators are now trained in Line-of-Sight (which was deployed at the beginning of the project), Teleremote and the Geofence solutions.
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.
“The Geofence system has been customised to suit our requirements at Roy Hill. We established the dynamic boundaries for dozers, fixed stacker boom, cone of throw and COS through several risk assessments with key stakeholder’s engagement, and RCT was very collaborative throughout this process.
“We engaged dozer operators and trainers throughout the development process. Their feedback has been a key to Teleremote dozer’s success.”
“We’ve had very positive feedback from Roy Hill and I’m very proud of what our team was able to achieve,” said Mr Wright.
RCT will continue to work with Roy Hill to further develop and upgrade technology for years to come.