Good news for plant operators: Volvo’s best efforts to date show that a driverless wheeled loader is still only 70% as efficient as one with a skilled operator behind the controls.
Volvo Construction Equipment has been working on automated construction machinery and recently gave a public demonstration in Sweden of a prototype wheeled loader filling a prototype articulated hauler – before dumping its load and repeating the cycle. In a one-hour comparison it was found that the autonomous wheel loader could reach the equivalent of 70% of that of a skilled operator’s productivity levels when loading and unloading, Volvo says.
Earlier this year Volvo Group began tests and demonstrations of its autonomous self-driving trucks for mining applications. Now here’s the footage.
Volvo’s fully autonomous truck is the first in the world to be tested in operations deep underground in the Kristineberg Mine. The self-driving truck is part of a development project aimed at improving the transport flow and safety in the mine. The truck will cover a distance of 7km, reaching 1,320 metres underground in the narrow mine tunnels.
The research project is a cooperative venture with Saab’s technology consulting subsidiary Combitech.
There's a big new digger ripping up the Yorkshire Dales...
Tarmac’s Swinden quarry is just off the road between Skipton and Grassington in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Until the turn of the century it was operated by Tilcon and caused a right old mess, chucking limestone dust around the place. There has always been lots of quarrying in these parts, as evidenced by all those dry stone walls. In recent years, Taramc has invested millions in improving the quarry, drastically reducing its impact, and this securing permission from the National Parks authority to expand operations.
The most recent investment is an ultra-large Hitachi EX1900-6 excavator as the site’s new primary mover, to reduce operational hours at the site by increasing productivity and efficiency.
Among the 20 or so new machines that Liebherr launched at Bauma earlier this year was a new series of mid-range hydrostatic-drive wheeled loaders.
These machines are now ready for market and the Liebherr factory in Bischofshofen, Austria, will begin deliveries before the end of September 2016, they tell us.
The new L526 (7.7 tonnes tipping load), L538 (9.5 tonnes) and L546 (10.5 tonnes) meet Euro Stage IV/ US Tier 4Final emissions regs (with claimed 25% fuel savings compared to the competition). They have been redesigned with reinforced steel structures and bigger axles, with automatic self-locking differentials for improved traction.
If you were a South American 'el presidente' destined for prison for corruption and human rights violations, what sort of construction machinery might you favour?
Well, thanks to the reminiscences of my colleague Phil Bishop, who looks after our daily news coverage here at The Construction Index, I can tell you.
Phil was clearing out a metaphorical attic the other day and came upon these photos that he took in October 1993 while on a journalistic assignment to South America.