Following an announcement for LTE broadband functionality earlier this year, Komatsu has continued their streak of technological innovation by launching their own Center of Excellence (CoE) for Autonomous Haulage Systems (AHS) in April 2019. This new Arizona-based hub will become the epicenter for all future planning, marketing, strategy, training and sales support for Komatsu's line of self-driving mining solutions.
According to Jim Nishiura, VP of Komatsu's Global Mining Business Division, the CoE will empower his team by centralizing "common goals, workflows and strategies to deliver maximum value to customers…customer facing teams and distributors." With a more enticing value proposition and increased performance capabilities, Komatsu hopes these new additions will attract even more mining companies to join the expanding autonomous environment.
Fighting for the Lead
This recent advancement is yet another roadmark in the changing heavy equipment landscape, as market leaders continue to pursue bringing autonomous vehicles into the fold across multiple industries, particularly via investments into new technologies and back-end resources. So far, early ventures have paid off.
Since the Autonomous Haulage System was first deployed commercially in 2008, Komatsu has hauled over two billion tons of surface material autonomously, which is more than the combined productivity of all other commercial competitors in the autonomous haulage sector combined. That being said, companies like Caterpillar are hot on their heels with their own line of autonomous mining trucks, operator-assist technologies, and remote control systems. Let the autonomous race begin!
Top Features of Autonomous Heavy Equipment
Looking ahead, the adoption of autonomous solutions appears to be proceeding slowly but surely, with precise timetables depending on variables from both R&D success and government regulation. No matter if the self-driving future of heavy equipment arrives in five years or ten, it makes sense to start getting ready for the benefits autonomous mining and construction equipment will bring to your organization:
1. Increased Safety
By allowing workers to get more elements of the job done from a distance, autonomous machinery has the inherent advantage of keeping employees away from the action where accidents are prone to happen.
2. Operator Enhancement, Not Replacement
Rather than simply replace your team, industry experts expect autonomous machinery to empower the existing workforce. Through the handling of rudimentary operations, autonomous equipment will give operators the flexibility to focus on more complicated tasks and decision making.
3. Pushing Productivity
The intelligent systems that run autonomous equipment come with all sorts of perks. For one, they don't need to eat or sleep, so companies can continue to push activity for longer, more continuous hours. In addition to the elimination of operator error, the precision of autonomous smart features allows for increased management of resources, such as fuel, which can result in lower operating costs to save you money in the long run.
While we're waiting for the new wave of autonomous equipment to hit the shores of IronPlanet's online marketplaces, check out our selection of traditional mining trucks, excavators, dump trucks and Komatsu and Cat crawler dozers.