Rio Tinto has successfully deployed AutoHaul™, the world’s largest robot and first automated heavy-haul, long-distance rail network.
Since commencing their first loaded run in July 2018, Rio Tinto has steadily increased the number of autonomous journeys across its leading Western Australian iron ore operations and has now accumulated over one million kilometres travelled autonomously.
Rio Tinto operates close to 200 locomotives on more than 1,700 kilometres of track in the Pilbara-region of Western Australia, transporting ore from 16 mines to four port terminals. The average return distance of these trains is roughly 800 kilometres with the average journey cycle, including loading and dumping, taking close to 40 hours.
Locomotives carrying AutoHaul™ software are also fitted with onboard cameras allowing for constant monitoring from the Operations Centre.
In announcing the successful deployment, Rio Tinto Iron Ore managing director Rail, Port & Core Services, Ivan Vella, said the safe and successful deployment of AutoHaul™ across their network is a strong reflection of the pioneering spirit inside Rio Tinto.
“It’s been a challenging journey to automate a rail network of this size and scale in a remote location like the Pilbara, but early results indicate significant potential to improve productivity, providing increased system flexibility and reducing bottlenecks,” he said.
Most notably, the company does not expect to make any redundancies in 2019 as a result of the deployment of AutoHaul™.
Rio Tinto plans to continue to refine their autonomous operations and will work closely with drivers during this transition period and into the future.