BelAZ (the Belarusian Automobile Plant), one of the world's largest manufacturers of quarry equipment, and ZYFRA, a company which specialises in industry digitalisation will jointly develop robotisation technologies for the mining industry and set up a research centre at BelAZ for innovation in the fields of artificial intelligence and autonomous transport.
The strategic partnership agreement was signed on July 10 at the Innoprom-2019 international exhibition in Yekaterinburg by Petr Parkhomchik, CEO of BELAZ-HOLDING, and Igor Bogachev, CEO of ZYFRA.
“The main goal of our partnership is to understand better the current and future digital needs of the mining industry and to offer vehicles that fully meet these needs so that customers do not have to waste resources and time upgrading them on their own. Identifying these needs will be the object of our joint research activities with ZYFRA and all our future projects will be based on these studies,” said Petr Parkhomchik at the signing ceremony.
The companies are already taking their first steps together in the areas highlighted in the agreement. VIST Group, a subsidiary of ZYFRA which develops solutions for the mining industry, and BelAZ have launched production of robotised dump trucks. The vehicles are being successfully used, in particular, in open pits operated by SUEK. Experience shows that thanks to accurate tracking of the geotechnology parameters, fully autonomous and remotely controlled equipment improves transport efficiency by 20% while removing drivers from hazardous work zones. The company expects the solution will be highly demanded on the markets of Sub-Saharian Africa, Chile, Peru and India.
The collaboration between BelAZ and ZYFRA will have a particular focus on AI-based technologies. The companies plan to conduct joint studies of customer needs and an analysis of the global market for digital AI-based products in the mining industry, as a foundation for creating and improving their own developments in this field. Their immediate plans include working on a predictive analytics system for quarry equipment to help predict breakdowns by analysing historical data and carry out predictive maintenance. In parallel, the two companies have mapped out joint steps in the development of industrial safety solutions. In particular, they are planning to test a driver fatigue tracking system using computer vision technologies.
They also plan to develop an environment scanning system for autonomous dump trucks already equipped with artificial intelligence. The system will be able not only to perceive and react to objects located around the dump truck, but also to build a 3D model of the rock mass to be loaded, determine its sequence of actions and correlate its movements with the dump truck’s position.
“With such a powerful mining technology business unit as VIST Group, ZYFRA is seeking to work closely with the global leaders in the production of quarry equipment. I’m convinced that this combination of competences will benefit all parties. For us, it will mean a stronger presence on the global market, a deepening of our expertise and the opportunity to create products equipped with the most advanced technologies, while the mining companies will be able to order their equipment from the plant with their chosen digital features ready installed,” said Igor Bogachev.
The agreement includes partnership in the promotion and commercialisation of digital technologies for mining companies and joint training of personnel for the implementation of digitalisation projects. Staff training is very important for switching companies to unmanned technology, as drivers will be retrained as machine operators and all their activities will focus on remote control and monitoring of unmanned objects in the open pit.