A 5G pilot zone has been deployed for the first time at the SUEK coal company open-pit mine in Khakassia, Russia to test the potential of 5G as part of an autonomous haulage system developed by Zyfra, Finnish-Russian industrial digitalisation leader.
The pilot project is trialed on 130 tons BELAZ-7513R autonomous mining dump trucks. Robotic dump trucks are part of the Zyfra Intelligent Mine system, which is aimed at providing efficient, safe, completely unmanned mining technologies based on robotics, industrial artificial intelligence (AI) and internet of thing (IoT).
Part of the wireless 5G network, with a length of 1.5 km covering the robots’ route, has been deployed on Huawei equipment with a view to performing the tests at the Chernogorsky open-pit mine (Abakansky open-pit mining area, Chernogorsk, Khakassia). The cover is provided by two 5G distributed two-section base transceiver stations (gNodeB), operating in non-standalone mode. The width of the operating channel is 100 MHz.
The main task of the pilot project is to test 5G networks for unmanned and remote-control transport, as well as to reveal and document the technological advantages of the latest-generation network over an industrial WiFi/MESH network.
The whole functionality of the robotic centre was utilised as part of the 5G technology tests. All video streams from high resolution cameras, which are mounted along the dump trucks perimeter, are received by the information processing centre for real-time equipment control. The use of 5G technology has therefore meant that a great deal of information could be transmitted and delays minimised, thus significantly increasing the accuracy of the movement of the gigantic machines and control safety compared with networks in previous use.
The development of new generation networks can give impetus to the implementation of new technologies in the Industrial Internet of Things sector. 5G in particular will become a new communication standard for automation: the high rate of data transfer and lack of delays will make this standard essential for all unmanned systems, especially for risky operations. 5G networks provide a more stable connection, a minimised delay in control signals – which is critical for remote transport control and management – and are not affected by disturbances which can be created by various active Wi-Fi networks.
“Robotic dump trucks allow for a significant increase in freight transport production rates (up to 30 %) thanks to a reduction in non-technological downtimes related to human factors (shift changes, lunchtime, etc.), an increase in the average speed of robotic dump trucks during travel and thus an increase in the number of movements per shift (by approximately 20 %). The 5G network has demonstrated its reliability in robotic equipment application tasks at open-pit mining sites. But overall, other data transfer standards can also be used to scale and launch robotic equipment. When selecting a specific type of data transfer technology, it is important to look at the quality of the service provided and its approximate value to the applied robot technology economy at a particular mining site,” said Pavel Rastopshin, managing director of Zyfra.
“Having used MESH-based Industrial Internet technologies at our enterprises for 10 years, we are testing an alternative for the first time, and it is proving its technological worth,”said Dmitry Sizemov, deputy director of information technology for SUEK. “The implementation of 5G networks at open-pit mining enterprises opens up huge opportunities not only for robotised facilities, but also for advanced solutions for industrial safety, dispatch and monitoring, which require higher rates and greater reliability of data transfer, as well as flexibility and stationary infrastructure independence. Our joint pilot project with Zyfra in Khakassia represents the first practical implementation of domestic robotic dump trucks, and thanks to new generation network resources from Beeline and Huawei we are currently reaching such unmanned machines production rates that are not possible with humans alone. The possibility of running robotic automation at other enterprises is currently being discussed at SUEK. Industrial application of 5G in that case steadily establishes its position in digital transformation for years to come.”
“4G has changed our lives, and now 5G is transforming our society,” said Aiden U, CEO of Huawei Eurasia. “As a technology that combines everything, 5G will give us a new intelligent world. The mining industry always was and remains an industry of increased risk. The presentation of remote mining machines, operating through 5G, allows us to automate the most dangerous tasks in this industry. This will significantly increase efficiency and safety in the industry. In years to come, mining industry workers will be able to perform their work in comfortable rooms with climate control. This is a big step forward for this industry. Beeline and Huawei have cooperated for a long time and studied the opportunities of 5G together. Having witnessed cases of a hologram call, remote operations and now remote mining, we believe that 5G will soon be available for all of us and for every industry.”
The pilot project at the open-pit mine will last for several weeks.