Neptec Technologies has completed proof-of-concept testing of its 3DRi Spot Assist application at Teck ResourcesFording River coal mine operation in south-eastern British Columbia, Canada.

The sensor-based truck spotting technology has been developed in collaboration with Barrick, Teck Resources and Peck Tech Consulting.

Using Neptec’s 3D real-time intelligence software development platform, 3DRi, and obscurant-penetrating OPAL 3D laser sensors, the technology improves the productivity and safety of operations in the loading area of open pit mines.

Teck Resources principal advisor on mining technology Peter Wan said: “Backing up a haul truck beside a shovel for loading is a challenging task at the best of times and a system that improves the efficiency and safety of shovel and haul truck interactions offers potentially huge productivity gains for mining operations.”

“We can see many possible applications of Neptec’s 3DRi and OPAL technologies to create intelligent, real-time 3D solutions.”

In order to continuously scan the loading area around the shovel, 3DRi Spot Assist uses multiple OPAL 3D sensors that are mounted on the shovel together with a single computer running the software application.

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Following this, the haul trucks are recognised and tracked as they prepare to manoeuvre beside the shovel for loading. Both single and double-sided loading configurations are supported.

By calculating the optimal loading position beside the shovel and determining a suitable path for the haul truck to back into, the application sends cues to the driver on a display in the truck.

Shovel and haul truck operators will be alerted to any obstacles that may enter the vehicle’s path.

Barrick mining information technology and automation senior director Andrew Scott said: “Decreased productivity and increasing high costs in the mining industry require us to innovate, it is no longer an option.

“While full automation is the long-term goal, we can see many possible applications of Neptec’s 3DRi and OPAL technologies to create intelligent, real-time 3D solutions that help our operators perform complex tasks more efficiently and with less risk.”