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RCT turns Gold Fields’ Granny Smith mine into ‘digitally connected powerhouse’


Posted by Daniel Gleeson on 25th January 2023

RCT’s latest partnership with Gold Fields in Australia has seen, it says, the transformation of the Granny Smith mine and machine fleet into a state-of-the-art, digitally connected powerhouse.

The project, which RCT says embodies the mining company’s key value of innovation, is designed to increase productivity.

Gold Fields’ Granny Smith mine is no stranger to RCT, having been one of its technology partners for more than 20 years.

This latest project has seen the Eastern Goldfields underground gold operation become one of the most innovative, digitally-connected mines in the world, according to RCT. The project saw its Kalgoorlie-based team of innovative technicians upgrade the site’s six existing Caterpillar loaders from analogue to digital.

This required the Kalgoorlie branch team to design and build specialised mounts and overhaul the site’s existing cabins. In addition, a total of 11 Area Access Controls (AAC) were also converted from analogue to digital to facilitate the upgrade.

“We recognise that they made a significant investment into the original technology, and we wanted to find the most cost-effective and sustainable solution available,” RCT’s Kalgoorlie Branch Manager, Rick Radcliffe, said.

The team converted three of the site’s existing analogue TeleCabins and transformed them into digital ControlMaster® Automation Centres for underground use and two surface Automation Centres to digital, bringing them into the future.

The site chose to use RCT’s own full-scale digital communications solution – RCT Connect – to meet the demands of autonomous machines across the mine site. The technology will cater to Granny Smith’s current and future machines, according to RCT.

The Kalgoorlie branch finished the upgrades in December last year, and although the technology has only been in place for a few months, the site has experienced amazing results from day one, according to the company.

Granny Smith Mine Manager, Michael Place, said: “The ability for the operators to mine from the surface with a pristine picture/video thanks to the digital network has meant they have been able to increase the number of buckets per shift, while adding to the comfort of the operators.

“Implementing the new digital infrastructure RCT Connect has significantly improved both the availability and reliability of Granny Smith’s semi-autonomous remote production loaders and stoping fronts to date.”

The upgrade saw the popular analogue technology that uses the Yagi antenna replaced with RCT Connect.

Radcliffe added: “While the Yagi’s have been a tried and tested technology for many years, our digital RCT Connect Access Points has taken the Control Master underground communications system to another level. The system is now more reliable and provides a clearer picture and improved operator visibility.

“The feedback we have received from site is that the operators love the new technology and they wished they implemented it ages ago.”

As well as experiencing the significant benefits of digital technology today, Granny Smith is futureproofing its operations, allowing it to make small, incremental changes as and when they are ready, RCT said.

RCT Connect, RCT says, is a plug-and-play system, making it easy to install and maintain. The technology has produced a clearer picture, which has greatly assisted Granny Smith personnel to continue operating their machines safely in high-risk locations.

Radcliffe concluded: “Another added benefit to moving to digital is that RCT can now remotely support our clients to a higher level and are able to monitor and complete repairs in a short timeframe, as it eliminates the need for a technician to travel to site to troubleshoot in many cases.”

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