Neptec Technologies has tested its 3DRi Spot Assist application at Teck Resources’ Fording River coal mine in British Columbia, Canada.

The sensor-based software application, which is developed by Barrick, Teck Resources, and Peck Tech Consulting, uses Neptec’s 3D real-time intelligence software development platform and OPAL 3D laser sensors mounted on the shovel.

The tool is said to enhance productivity and safety of operations in open-pit mines particularly in loading area. It scans the loading area around the shovel and tracks haul trucks.

Teck Resources mining technology principal advisor Peter Wan said: "Backing up a haul truck beside a shovel for loading is a challenging task at the best of times and a system that improves the efficiency and safety of shovel and haul truck interactions offers potentially huge productivity gains for mining operations."

In addition to calculating the optimal loading position beside the shovel, the application alerts the haul truck driver as well as the shovel during the spotting manoeuvre to obstacles that may appear in the path.

Barrick mining information technology and automation senior director Andrew Scott said: "Decreased productivity and increasing high costs in the mining industry require us to innovate, it is no longer an option.

"While full automation is the long-term goal, we can see many possible applications of Neptec’s 3DRi and OPAL technologies to create intelligent, real-time 3D solutions that help our operators perform complex tasks more efficiently and with less risk."