Jan Petzold
GHH Group
View from the Top

Mining Innovation Goes Deeper

By Paloma Duran | Tue, 03/30/2021 - 12:08

Q: What solutions does GHH offer?

A: GHH Group is an integral solutions provider with production facilities in Germany, Poland and South Africa. We have assembly facilities in countries such as Chile and other strategic partners around the world. GHH’s offering includes loaders, trucks, drills, bolters, long-hole production drills and various utility vehicles for both the Hardrock and Softrock mining and construction industries. GHH is proud to provide customers with tailor-made solutions, while being able to deliver fit-for-purpose machines to the industry. The ability to adapt and have the flexibility to deliver custom solutions in short “time-to-market” timelines is key to GHH’s success.

Q: How has GHH evolved its position in the Mexican mining market?

A: GHH has been in the Mexican market for a while, and we are providing our 20-ton dump trucks and LHDs up to 10 tons. Our alliance with DeSK, which is our dealer in the Mexican mining market, has given GHH boots on the ground.

DeSk has a good footprint with key customers and has the experience to provide frontline services when required. DeSK is in constant contact with the mining industry, while we, as a medium-sized entity, have the advantage of having rapid decision-making processes, which allows us to jointly identify the needs of the end customer and provide our clients with appropriate solutions.

Q: How does GHH’s technology benefit the Mexican mining sector and what differentiates its solutions?

A: We have more than 900 people working with us internationally, including more than 150 mining engineers. Since we are engineers and mining engineers, we have a clear understanding of the market’s needs, the application of our products and the mining methods used by our customers. As a result, GHH offers rock-solid products:  simple, robust, reliable, long-lasting, easy to maintain and with size classes of up to 45 tons in dump truck and 21 tons in LHDs. We believe that the sizes of the products we are providing are an advantage in the market, since they are particularly made for the geology where the client is operating. In addition, if customers want intelligent machines with digital analytics, GHH can also provide customized solutions to suit their specific needs.

Q: Why should companies incorporate GHH’s new product LF-7 and how does it increase safety and productivity in operations?

A: The LF-7 is a versatile middle-class loader that meets the demands of both large, narrow vein and small-mass mining operations. At approximately 18 tons of operating weight, the LF-7 is powered by a 164kW Cummings diesel, making it the best in its class. It complies with Tier 3 and Tier 4, as well as with EU and US Stage 5 emissions standards, so this is one of the cleanest vehicles around when it comes to safety. From an operational standpoint, the LF-7 easily copes with gradients of up to 28 percent and reaches speeds of up to 27 km/h.

The ergonomic cab is ROPS/FOPS certified and offers a high level of safety and ergonomics with a comfortable t-back seat, low whole-body vibration and noise levels, as well as ride control and great visibility.

We have one of the largest cabins on the market, for this size class loader, since we place a great deal of importance on the comfort of our operators. In addition, the new product allows the operation of 18 tons with an up to 25 percent incline, which is a huge advantage compared to other products that only allow operations on less angles and inclines.

Q: What is GHH approach to technology development regarding electric battery equipment?

A: Industry discussions are taking place regarding batteries and alternative diesel energy sources. The question is whether everyone will be using it or will it only be used in markets where the government is providing funds or forcing the industry to use alternative batteries. GHH has decided to focus on a combined technology, a hybrid that combines batteries and cables.

GHH has designed and developed the LF-19EB, a tethered battery specifically for the potassium industry. We are also developing other products in this technology range. The benefits of a battery to tram between working panels removes the need for towing facilities or a generator, which is a huge advantage for any operation. With this product, clients can provide a constant flow of power to the off-grid system in the mine and they do not have to recharge the battery, as is required with battery-powered equipment. A normal battery-powered machine will not last more than three hours but our equipment allows it to operate within a   radius of 500 meters with constant power supply and no interruptions.

Q: What are the benefits of 100 percent electric light vehicles?

A: We are offering 100 percent battery-driven light-duty vehicles in cooperation with the Dutch company Tembo. Light vehicles are visionary cars that reduce the heat and emissions in mines. These are fast vehicles and we believe that this type of car is well suited for the Mexican market. We are offering 72kw hours of battery power under normal driving conditions. The battery can be charged at stations that can be located at any point in the mine.

Most people worry that the more electric a mine is, the less work there will be for people; however, this narrative must change. These cars represent a new opportunity for infrastructure. In addition, there are weighted calculations of CAPEX versus OPEX in the implementation of light electric vehicles.

Q: What is GHH inSiTE and how does it maximize the value of data to improve mining operations?

A: The term GHH inSiTE is meant to demonstrate extensive on-site operations alluded to by the implied word “insight.” It provides digital performance and condition monitoring, as well as the baseline for the future of digitally optimized mining operations. It provides improved operational safety and cost control, without requiring a substantial effort on the part of the user. In the simplest format, GHH inSiTE measures data related to the equipment’s performance, which allows clients to have data analytics and visualization.

GHH inSiTE is not only for GHH equipment. Our system can also operate with other OEM machines. Therefore, clients can visualize all the machinery in the mine on their computer screens to identify risks and monitor their operations. This product will also help customers to better manage their aftermarket as the customer will know exactly what spare parts are required, allowing us to provide them with a better spare parts and supplies service.

We recently signed a contract with one of the largest mining companies in Europe, where we plan to install 150 pieces of mobile equipment in vehicles using the GHH inSiTE program. This project allows us to demonstrate the ease of integrating the system in different mining operations. The equipment will be used in six different mines and our client will be able to supervise each operation by sector, equipment, mine and product group, which allows us to have better control of the mine and reduce risks.

Q: What is the company’s offer for automating mines and what benefits can it provide?

A: We offer automation solutions, but it all depends on the customer experience. We are implementing fully autonomous solutions in Europe and the result of the system is to provide a deployment for similar applications where this type of automation solution will work.

It is always difficult to talk about automation because everyone has a different interpretation; it could be remote control, line of site, tele-remote or completely autonomous. Human beings are still the best computers and if a client wants to have a fully autonomous mine, there will be many sensors and radars that imitate human beings. Furthermore, the success of these types of transitions depends on the skill set of the mine operator and maintenance teams.

We are in the process of installing a fully autonomous mining process in a European mine, where we seek to operate during the shift changes where the mine is due to the post blast ventilation process not accessible. During this time, the entrance to the mine is closed for about two hours. We are implementing this service so that the unit can operate fully autonomously without any interference from an operator for an hour or two. The advantage is that these machines operate without interruption. If a company has three shift changes per day, the system can add up to six more hours of production.

Q: What new solutions is GHH working on?

A: We have several new products planned. We are creating a new, smaller dump truck and an LHD in the classes between 7 and 14. These new products and others will meet new mining demands and allow us to continue being a reliable and innovative solution option for the mining sector.

GHH Group provides loaders, trucks, scalers, drills, bolters, long hole production drill rigs, rock tools and ground consolidation resins as well as utility vehicles and other ranges of products that all add to the “total solution provider” approach for both the Hardrock and Softrock Mining and Tunnelling Industries.

Paloma Duran Paloma Duran Junior Journalist and Industry Analyst