Minegem: Autonomous navigation, high production without an operator


Minegem is Caterpillar ’s underground loader automation system featuring the first sophisticated autonomous navigation system. It allows the operator to work in a safe and ergonomic location far from the loader—on the surface or underground. The robotic haulage technology already is working in a number of world-class mines and is fully supported by Caterpillar.

The operator no longer needs to travel to the machine to drive it; thus, the operator is not exposed to the risks of the underground environment. The system has the ability to increase loader utilization, because operator change time can be reduced to near zero, and the machine can operate without taking breaks. Productivity increases as its guidance system accurately steers the loader at faster tramming speeds than possible with manual remote operation. Compared to tele-remote operation, Minegem reduces damage to the loader as it automatically avoids contact with the walls.

The system provides two levels of control.

  • Copilot mode—with operator assisted automatic steering of the machine—can be considered the next logical step up from tele-remote.

  • Autopilot mode allows the operator to load the bucket using the integrated digital tele-remotes. Then the operator sends the loader on a mission in which it automatically trams, dumps and returns to the draw point. Operating under autopilot, several machines can be operated by one operator.

Ladar, a laser-radar range sensing system, provides spatial information to the machine. One Ladar unit looks to the front and one to the rear of the machine. Similarly, one camera on the front and one on the back provide real-time video to the remote operator. The operator also can get audio feedback from the machine. Machine health status, too, is displayed on the remote operator console.

The operator can set speeds for different parts of the haulage cycle to optimize productivity. Minegem also can incorporate road condition monitoring that will slow or even stop the loader when road conditions deteriorate. Caterpillar can design the operator station, or control station, around the requirements of each site. Control stations can be made stationary or portable and can be located underground or on the surface. In some instances, control stations have been set up in trucks that can move to different areas on the mining property.

Operating the loader from the surface does not compromise production or the health of the machine. The system is intelligent and flexible and can adapt to changes in the environment. The result is an extremely robust and adaptable solution capable of maintaining production at planned rates in a variety of applications.

Minegem can be fitted to a Caterpillar underground loader at the factory or in the field to create a semi-automated or fully automated machine.

No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Make Big Data and Industrial Internet of Things work for you, 2017 Engineers' Choice Finalists, Avoid control design pitfalls, Managing IIoT processes
Engineering Leaders Under 40; System integration improving packaging operation; Process sensing; PID velocity; Cybersecurity and functional safety
Mobile HMI; PID tuning tips; Mechatronics; Intelligent project management; Cybersecurity in Russia; Engineering education; Road to IANA
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

SCADA at the junction, Managing risk through maintenance, Moving at the speed of data
Flexible offshore fire protection; Big Data's impact on operations; Bridging the skills gap; Identifying security risks
The digital oilfield: Utilizing Big Data can yield big savings; Virtualization a real solution; Tracking SIS performance
click me