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The plan will be a revision of a similar ICT plan for 2012-17, the main focus of which was autonomous trucks to ease the stress of drivers working shifts, Chinalco ICT and automation head Willy Coronado told BNamericas on the sidelines of the recent IT & Technology in Mining conference in Santiago.
The autonomous trucks program is 75% complete, now that all vehicles have GPS installed and the software and technology platforms have been implemented. All machinery is already wired up for online reporting of status and condition, such as temperature and revolutions, ICT systems and development head Franz Escalante told BNamericas.
The next step is installation of equipment to coordinate all the electromagnetic systems, like steering and brakes, and programming the algorithms that determine a truck's speed at any time and how it learns which route to take, as well as its anti-collision system and ability to respond to unexpected situations.
"We're now running feasibility studies for these missing components, then we'll run a pilot program with one or two trucks," Escalante said, adding that the company expects the project to be fully operational within three years, and the technology partners for the project are Caterpillar and VP Operaciones.
Parallel to the truck project, Chinalco aims to replace a lot of its security personnel with CCTV and motion sensors. This has already been done in three sectors, leading to an annual cost reduction of US$100,000, Escalante said.
After that, the plan will focus on bringing all these systems together for remote operation via a control center in Lima. This will include remote control of drilling equipment. Chinalco has already invested in all the towers, antennas, servers and redundancy systems needed for these projects, and has fiber/MPLS connectivity between Lima and the mine at Toromocho, Escalante added.
Chinalco operates over a private cloud system, via two fully owned, redundant datacenters since 2013. The firm runs all business and operational applications on virtual machines, which allows staff to log on from locations other than the mine or their office.