Mining professionals from across the world are getting a close-up look at multiple technological innovations for Hitachi Construction Machinery's mining excavators and trucks at this year’s MINExpo INTERNATIONAL show in Las Vegas.
The technological advancements showcased in booth #8527 include everything from autonomous haulage, trolley truck technology and electric-powered hydraulic mining excavators to meet the increasing customer demand for solutions that lower operation costs and create more efficient operations.
Autonomous Haulage Technology
Hitachi’s Autonomous Haulage System (AHS) leverages technologies developed for Hitachi Ltd.’s automotive and railroad solutions as well as Wenco’s fleet management and dispatch system to increase productivity and lower the total cost of ownership.
The system features automated navigation and route optimization; the ability to negotiate traffic conditions; optimized accelerating, braking and steering control; site awareness and forward collision warning; and the Wenco fleet management system for overall supervisor control.
“As a fully integrated system, our autonomous haulage system... results in a truck that can determine the most efficient paths without constant communication with traffic control," said Craig Lamarque, division manager, Hitachi Mining Division - Americas. "We’ve also included components that make it possible to convert any Hitachi AC-3 truck bought today to AHS in the future.”
Advanced AC-Drive System
The EH4000AC-3 displayed at the booth is the only rigid frame haul truck at the show that features a Hitachi-designed, built and supported AC-Drive system. The Advanced AC-Drive System propulsion technology outperforms previous systems through its simplicity, improved efficiency and enhanced dependability, resulting in some of the most technologically advanced Hitachi trucks on the market.
“It’s perfectly matched for Hitachi trucks,” said Lamarque. “The entire Hitachi AC-Drive system is designed, built and supported by the same company – Hitachi. As a result, the system delivers higher torque, faster acceleration, smoother retardation and lower operating costs.”
The system includes Hitachi’s Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor (IGBT) inverter, alternator and wheel motors. Key features include a slip slide control system that acts as both an active traction control and an anti-lock brake system; pitch control system to reduce bouncing/rebounding over bumps or uneven ground; and side skid control system to assist the operator in turning the truck and keeping it on the proper track in over- and under-steer conditions.
The AC-drive wheel motor with the Dual Path Epicyclical Planetary design provides high efficiency and easy maintenance. Operating temperatures are lowered by allowing the first (outer) planetary carrier to travel at wheel speed. In addition, the lifespan of components and lubricants are increased as a result of an inverter-controlled lubricant circulation system that includes lubricant cooling and filtration.
Aerial Angle System
Hitachi Construction Machinery previously provided full-perimeter display systems for dump trucks and hydraulic excavators used in mining. The new Aerial Angle system enhances visibility for operators and alerts them to objects in close proximity to the haul truck on jobsites. It consists of two main components – a peripheral vision system with object detection technology and a forward collision warning system.
The new object detect assist technology features two operating modes – stationary Mode, which incorporates camera image processing technology used in the AROUND VIEW MONITOR with Moving Object Detection System developed jointly by NISSAN MOTOR CO., LTD. and Clarion Co., Ltd.; and forward mode, which incorporates millimeter wave radar technology developed by Hitachi, Ltd. In addition to its use in the Aerial Angle system, the object detect assist technology is also being integrated into Hitachi’s driverless autonomous dump trucks that are currently in development.
The peripheral vision system offers an overview of the machine’s surroundings by composing images from four exterior cameras in real time while the truck is in stationary mode. The monitor displays objects in close proximity to the truck and highlights the image on the screen for the operator. The system also provides and audible alert to the operator.
When the truck is traveling, the forward mode leverages millimeter wave radar to detect objects and warn the operator of a possible collision based on location of the object and speed of the truck. Operators are alerted to objects through audible sounds as well as flashing lights.
“Customers around the world are striving to enhance efficiency of the entire mining supply chain,” said Lamarque. “As a result, there is an increasing demand for machinery manufacturers to incorporate information communications technology (ICT) into mining machinery and management systems, and to provide solutions that integrate these technologies. This technology addresses the important customer issues of enhancing operator awareness, improving productivity and reducing life cycle costs.”
Hitachi’s trolley technology utilizes DC-powered overhead lines to power trucks up hills. When the truck operator connects to the line, the hauler switches to trolley power, resulting in an increase in speed up the grade vs. engine power alone. This increases productivity, lowers costs and reduces noise and diesel exhaust emissions.
The system consists of two parts – the infrastructure and the trolley-equipped AC-Drive haul trucks that have been configured for the system. The system is currently installed in 109 units worldwide.
The Trolley Truck option is available for all Hitachi AC-Drive trucks and is packaged entirely by the company, from components to support.
Electric-powered Hydraulic Mining Excavators
Hitachi recently introduced five mining electric powered hydraulic shovels to the U.S. and Latin American markets that feature an advanced electric drive motor designed to provide a cost-effective solution to mining operations where low-cost electric power is available.
While Hitachi has been delivering electric-powered excavators to other parts of the world for many years in countries with a 50-Hz power supply, its engineers had to review U.S. and Latin American countries’ specific safety regulations to ensure compliant operations in these countries with a 60-Hz power supply.
The machines do not need costly consumables such as engine oil, filters, coolant or fan belts. Components related to an engine are also eliminated, such as radiators, air filters and mufflers.
Next-generation Mining Excavators
Hitachi next generation of mining excavators, which will be released soon, will give customers the ability to choose what engine they want in their excavator. Next-generation mining excavators in emissions-regulated countries like the U.S. and Canada will have a Tier 4 Final engine choice of Cummins or MTU depending on model. For countries outside of an emissions-regulated country, there will be a non-certified (NC) version of both the MTU and Cummins engine choices, depending on model.
The new excavators will also include improved hydraulic system designs; advanced electronic controls on the hydraulic pumps, improving response and economic control of the pump; and increased efficiency of the pump and system operation, reducing fuel consumption and lowering operating costs.