Over the next six years, Suncor Energy plans to deploy more than 150 autonomous haulage systems (AHS) at company-operated mines.
The phased implentation will begin at the North Steepbank mine, according to a news release. The company’s staged approach will make it possible to focus on each mine and apply lessons learned from one to the next.
“Suncor was the first company to transition from bucketwheel to truck and shovel operations in the early 1990s and we’re continuing to be on the leading edge of oil sands technologies today,” Suncor Chief Operating Officer Mark Little said, according to the release. “To be the very first company to test these systems and implement them at a commercial scale in our oil sands mining operations speaks to our long history of embracing and implementing game changing technologies—it’s simply part of our DNA.”
Suncor first began evaluating the systems four years ago and has validated that AHS technology can be used safely and effectively. The technology offers a variety of advantages over truck and shovel operations, according to the release, including enhanced safety, improved operating efficiency and lower operating costs.
The predictable systems come equipped with safety features such as prescribed mapping and obstacle detection.
“Safety is our number one value at Suncor,” Little said. “Autonomous haulage systems reduce interaction between people and equipment, which decreases incident rates and injury potential—helping us ensure everyone goes home safely at the end of every day.”