The autonomous truck is far away from South Africa’s reality but in Europe, it is becoming more and more of a reality with this story giving our local readers a glimpse into the type of developments taking place in countries across the ocean.
It involves the signing of a landmark agreement between Volvo Trucks and Brønnøy Kalk AS in Norway to provide its first commercial autonomous solution transporting limestone from an open pit mine to a nearby port.
The solution for Brønnøy Kalk AS consists of limestone being transported by six autonomous Volvo FH trucks on a five kilometer stretch through tunnels between the mine itself and the crusher. Tests of this solution have been carried out successfully and will continue throughout this year to become fully operational by the end of 2019.
The agreement follows recent successful automation projects involving mining, sugar cane harvesting and refuse collection. Yet this commercial solution represents an exciting first for Volvo Trucks. Rather than purchasing autonomous trucks, Brønnøy Kalk is buying a transport solution – specifically the transport of the limestone between the two hubs.
“This is an important step for us,” says Raymond Langfjord, managing director of the mine. “The competition in the industry is tough. We are continuously looking to increase our efficiency and productivity long-term and we have a clear vision of taking advantage of new opportunities in technology and digital solutions. We were searching for a reliable and innovative partner that shares our focus on sustainability and safety. Going autonomous will greatly increase our competitiveness in a tough global market.”
Claes Nilsson, President of Volvo Trucks, is equally chuffed saying that Volvo is proud to be able to present an autonomous solution which will meet the challenges of its customers in terms of safety, reliability and profitability.
“The global transport needs are continuously changing and the industry is demanding new and advanced solutions to stay ahead. Our aim is to be the leader of the development of products and services to respond to these demands,” says Nilsson.
“It is exciting to reach this point where we introduce autonomous solutions,” says Sasko Cuklev, Director Autonomous Solutions at Volvo Trucks. “By working in a confined area on a predetermined route, we can find out how to get the best out of the solution and tailor it according to specific customer needs. This is all about collaborating to develop new solutions, providing greater flexibility and efficiency as well as increased productivity.”
The agreement involves a deal whereby the customer buys a total transport service and pays per tonne delivered.