Sparks firm drives mine-site traffic changes |

Sparks firm drives mine-site traffic changes

Rob Sabo

A Sparks technology company is changing the way mining haul truck drivers navigate intersections at a mine site in northeastern Nevada.

Cirrus Systems has deployed its Haul Truck Priority Service platform at a Newmont Mining Corp. site to help control traffic patterns in real time. The system uses haul truck’s existing GPS equipment to monitor its position and stop oncoming traffic at intersections.

The system not only increases safety, Cirrus Systems executives say, but it also increases operating efficiencies since drivers don’t have to stop and start trucks loaded with several hundred tons or ore.

“It costs a lot of money when you stop and start a haul truck,” says Cirrus Systems Vice President of Business Development Bob Christensen. “It is the optimal balance between safety and efficiency.”

Traffic flows through mine sites typically are controlled by stop and yield signs. Stop signs halt all traffic, and yield signs allow for operator judgment, Christensen says. The Cirrus System eliminates the potential for misjudgment, he says, by giving the large haul trucks priority and halting any oncoming traffic at a traffic juncture.

Andreas Simanowski, vice president of technology for Cirrus Systems, says part of the value of the system is that it eliminates the potential for driver error from the equation.

“What we are doing is looking at where the haul truck is on the site, and then we control traffic on the site to give haul trucks priority or right of way through intersections,” Simanowski says. “We stop all the light vehicle traffic.”

Installation of the system, which moved from a pilot program last year into full production, required installation of on-site traffic signals, a small amount of hardware on the trucks to access their GPS equipment, and tapping into the mine site’s robust wireless infrastructure. Traffic patterns are monitored on site through software installed at the mine’s central communications building, but it also can be controlled from Cirrus System’s offices on Kleppe Lane.

The system can easily be adapted to changing traffic flows at mine sites, Christensen notes. With the HTPS platform installed in haul trucks, Cirrus Systems also can do more detailed monitoring of the truck’s performance, such as its monitoring real-time fuel usage.

“Once we have the device hooked up, there are other things we can do,” Christensen says. “Now we are working on a fuel system. Traffic control is just the beginning.”

Christensen says the mining industry was a natural first step for the new system because of its proximity to the company’s headquarters and the size of mining companies operating in the state. Future lines of business could include placement with companies working in oil sands exploration and production.

“Any company that uses a fleet of haul trucks working in a dynamic environment we can add value,” Christensen says. “We also have been working with UNR on the drone UAV activity because ultimately what we do is time-space positioning.”

Cirrus Systems employs seven and also works with a small number of off-site contractors. The company was founded in January of 2013.


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