Sandvik make strides in automation & electrification


Sandvik has unveiled its new AutoMine Concept, as well as the world’s first 18 tonne battery loader

Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology has revealed their vision for autonomous mining equipment, as well as the word’s first 18 tonne battery loader.

The two new innovations in mining were unveiled during a live reveal and demonstration at the Innovation in Mining virtual event, hosted by Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology on Sept. 29.

AutoMine Concept

Viewers of the Innovation in Mining virtual event were able to get the first glimpse of Sandvik’s new AutoMine Concept. 

The fully working and autonomous AutoMine Concept vehicle is based on the latest technologies and is equipped with all-new sensing capabilities and artificial intelligence to enhance mining operations. 

The AutoMine Concept perceives its environment in 3D and reacts to its surroundings in real-time. These technologies deliver customer advantages by allowing vehicles to adapt and plan their own routes, and to find the most suitable paths, even in continuously changing environments. 

The obstacle detection, collision avoidance and 3D online mapping capabilities improve adaptability and increase flexibility.

“The AutoMine Concept is unique, because it has been designed ground-up for autonomous use. It is the world’s first fully autonomous underground mining machine built specifically for automation,” said Riku Pulli, vice president of Automation at Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology. 

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“This technology raises ease-of-use, effectiveness of asset utilization and adaptability to a new level, resulting in higher productivity. These technologies will truly change the face and pace of autonomous mining.”

The new autonomous platform is a foundation for using the AutoMine technology in various equipment types, and it can be applied to any vehicle.  As well, the AutoMine Concept vehicle has a completely new industrial design without a cabin, and with built-in components for high reliability and productivity.

This autonomy platform allows for equipment design that is optimized for its primary production tasks without compromises. Furthermore, being fully battery-electric, it delivers sustainability in mining without producing carbon emissions.

For Sandvik, the new technologies showcased in the AutoMine Concept will lead the way for the future of the existing, AutoMine platform.

18 tonne battery loader

Sandvik has also introduced the 18-tonne LH518B — its new battery-electric loader, which is the first of its kind for the mining industry.

The all-new loader is the result of Sandvik’s decades of engineering expertise, matched with Artisan Vehicle’s innovative powertrain technology and battery system expertise.

In 2019, Sandvik acquired the California-based Artisan Vehicles, a manufacturer of zero emission battery powered mining vehicles. Artisan became a business unit within Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology’s load and haul division. 

Sandvik’s ground-up design 

The Sandvik LH518B has been designed from the ground-up, entirely around the loader’s Artisan battery system and electric driveline to best utilize the possibilities that  battery technology delivers. 

When designing the machine, Sandvik said it was not enough to replace some components or redesign only a part of the loader. The designers were compelled to rethink the entire machine. For the customers, when the manufacturer rethinks the machine, it means that the mine doesn’t need to rethink its entire infrastructure. In practice, changing the loader battery does not require any cranes or forklifts, thanks to the patented AutoSwap feature.

The new LH518B battery-electric loader comes with a large capacity for its size. The loader’s design solutions allow the machine to fit in a 4.5 x 4.5 metre tunnel and carry 18 tonne loads. In addition to an innovative boom and bucket system, the LH518B features independent front and rear drivetrains, allowing high payload capacity while keeping a low overall height.

For productivity, the LH518B is equipped with three 2,000 Nm permanent magnet motors. With no torque converter, transmission or engine to rev up, the loader is fast and agile. As well, there are no emission restrictions, based on installed power to limit the electric motor selection, which enables the use of the most powerful motors available that are suited for the underground conditions.

AutoSwap and AutoConnect

The LH518B is equipped with AutoSwap, a patented self-swapping system for the Artisan battery pack. Thanks to the system, swapping a battery is quick and easy with minimum amount of manual handling. In fact, changing the battery only requires about six minutes, and it can be done in a passing bay or old re-muck bay with no overhead cranes or external infrastructure needed. The brand new AutoConnect feature available for the first time on the LH518B is making swapping even easier and faster by automatically connecting and disconnecting the battery pack to the machine. 

Aside from unplugging and plugging in the charger, the operator doesn’t need to leave the cabin, which saves minutes on the swapping procedure and decreases effort and risk in the swapping process.

The purely battery-powered loader helps to reduce heat and emissions underground, helping mines reach their sustainability targets and reduce ventilation costs. The robust battery pack uses Lithium Iron Phosphate chemistry (LiFePO4) and is purpose-designed for use in underground mining.

Globalization of battery-electric vehicles

Sandvik is now expanding its battery-electric vehicles, including loaders and trucks, and is preparing to enter new market areas, which will happen in phases and model by model. 

As the battery loaders and trucks are introduced to new markets, Sandvik said it will be ready to offer full product support and aftermarket services for its customers.