A major miner in Botswana has commissioned a South African company to manufacture three mobile operator stations for its diamond mine in Botswana.
The mobile stations allow for capital equipment to operate by means of remote-control technology, 100 m away from where the machine is working.
This delivery marks a first for Africa, as these hi-tech stations have not been manufactured locally. The units were built by mechanical engineering company MultiFAB Engineering, a 51% black women-owned company based in Chamdor, Krugersdorp, and fitted with technology from global software solutions provider RCT.
“It has taken nine months of research and development to complete the units, and the teams that were involved are extremely pleased with being able to produce them in South Africa,” says MultiFAB Engineering MD Jason Bryden.
On the unit, the machine operator sits in a protected cabin, ergonomically built and fitted with air-conditioning, and can therefore control the machine within the line of sight, but in a safe area, away from the potentially hazardous operation.
RCT installed its ControlMaster Teleremote technology on two Komatsu D475-5EO dozers at the mine, comprising camera vision packages for an enhanced view of the operation.
RCT also fitted the seating, monitoring screens and electronic devices.
The third mobile unit was equipped with drilling and blasting technology supplied by manufacturer Atlas Copco.
The fabrication of all three units required careful planning and integration between the suppliers and the mine.
MultiFAB Engineering manufactured the steelworks at its workshop in Chamdor and fitted the shells with the necessary services, such as power access, lighting, batteries, generators, fuel tanks and radios, enabling RCT and Atlas Copco to complete the installations with their respective software solutions.
“While RCT has delivered many such systems globally, this project has spurred interest from other openpit miners and smelter operations,” says RCT Africa business development manager Mike Thomas.
He adds that the units’ lightweight, portable characteristics allow for an agile design that can easily be towed by a Landcruiser or similar vehicle to its ideal/required location. Each unit weighs about 3 t.
“The fabrication and delivery of these mobile units is a South African story that required the harnessing of local skills, technology and manufacturing capacity to achieve a safer, more productive openpit operation,” Bryden concludes.