This month, Komatsu announced that it will soon deploy 41 of its new 930E-5 ultra-class haul trucks to BHP’s South Flank iron ore mine in Western Australia. As we reported on earlier in the year, this development follows recent initiatives in the autonomous mining space which have contributed to Komatsu becoming among the market’s most influential players. With more tonnes of material hauled autonomously than all competitors combined, Komatsu currently leads the field with 180 autonomous trucks operating globally across 3 continents and 9 mine sites on advanced LTE mobile broadband technology.
In its latest announcement, Komatsu touted the safety record, low haulage costs and productivity improvements of their autonomous products. According to Executive General Manager Leo Kaloglou, Komatsu’s ultra-class haul trucks like the 930E-5 have proven their reliability in a wide range of harsh environments, including “ambient temperatures of minus 45 degrees, in temperatures higher than 40 degrees and at extreme altitudes.” So far, reported injuries relating to Komatsu’s autonomous mining vehicles have remained at an impressive grand total of zero incidents.
Komatsu promises to be 'people powered'
Speaking to fears surrounding the much-discussed ‘autonomous revolution’, Komatsu Australia’s CEO and Managing Director Sean Taylor stated that the company’s “people-powered” approach to autonomous vehicles is built on a foundation of job creation through automation, as well as an emphasis on “safety, diversity, upskilling, and an innovative work force that marries our people’s needs with our business goals.” This would seem to indicate that Komatsu’s energy is not directed at replacing humans with robots entirely, but rather at giving people new, augmented opportunities through which they can achieve greater heights.
Following this sentiment, Komatsu also reiterated support for the Western Australian workforce in particular by promising the coming arrival of new positions for technicians, apprentices, mechanics, boiler maker welders and more, both part-time and full-time. Komatsu also emphasized the investment of time and resources into making qualifications relating to automation, technology, operations and leadership readily accessible to their workforce.
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