Human Interaction With Automated Mining Equipment
In recent years there has been a large increase in the amount of new technology being developed and deployed in the minerals industry. The human element implications of such technologies in mining have not yet been explored in any detail. Aims: The overall focus of this paper is upon operator interaction with automated mining equipment; in particular, it aims to develop a database to capture the emerging technology trends associated with such equipment.
Method: A wide variety of data sources were used to create the database, including: personal interviews with technology developers, mine site/ corporate personnel and regulators; attendance at relevant mine site automation conferences; podcasts by leading mining personnel; desktop reviews of relevant articles; original equipment manufacturer product lists and websites, and reviews of mining equipment suppliers guides. To put mining automation into context, specific technologies used in mining automation are grouped in the database by ‘degrees of automation’, such as fully automated and partially automated systems; assistance devices such as proximity detection/ warning systems; and other relevant technologies. Results: The database, shown in Appendix 1, considers both existing and emerging technologies. A brief product description is also provided, including the technology used, function of the system, and where possible the location of where it is being used. An analysis of the main human element implications of such technology is also provided.
Conclusion: Whilst it is a comprehensive database, it is by no means exhaustive of all automated equipment available within the minerals sector. Some technologies are restricted to company/ user-only access with limited or no information publically accessible, and some technologies are still in the research and development stage. It does, however, provide a broad overview of the types of available technologies associated with automated mining practices as well as the emerging trends in new technologies within this sector.
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