Resources Technology Showcase 2021: Immersive Technologies up-skills Rio trainees

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Stuart McKinnonThe West Australian
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Haulpak simulator Immersive Technologies has developed a HaulPak driver simulator. Ben Holland is pictured in the simulator at Immersive Technologies.
Camera IconHaulpak simulator Immersive Technologies has developed a HaulPak driver simulator. Ben Holland is pictured in the simulator at Immersive Technologies. Credit: Ian Munro/The West Australian

Trainees are learning to operate the big kit that will work the pits at Rio Tinto’s new Gudai-Darri iron ore project in the Pilbara even before first ore has been dug, thanks to simulation technology.

Up to 40 new and existing Rio employees are using the simulator developed by Immersive Technologies to skill-up in the handling of CAT excavators, dozers and graders ahead of the $3.6 billion mine’s opening early next year.

The simulator is just an example of the type of technology that will be on show at the two-day Resources Technology Showcase 2021 at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre from Monday, hosted by Seven West Media, publisher of The West Australian.

More than 20 companies will be showing off the latest technology being employed in the resources sector in a free event expected to attract more than 10,000 visitors.

Rio is one of the exhibitors.

The vice-president of human resources at the miner, Scott Browne, said Gudai-Darri would be one of the world’s most technologically advanced mines and the company was preparing to ensure its workforce was ready to take on the high-tech jobs on offer at the operation, 110km north-west of Newman.

“This (the simulator) is an important component of our comprehensive training program for the autonomous haulage system, which includes supporting new team members and upskilling existing employees,” he said. “We expect our partnership with Immersive Technologies will see around 40 trainees come through this facility.

The technology simulates being in a haul truck.
Camera IconThe technology simulates being in a haul truck. Credit: Ian Munro/The West Australian

“They will leave with transferable skills that can be used in a range of sectors across Australia and are essential in the operation of the autonomous equipment which is the future of mining.”

The simulator can mimic fires, rollovers and bench collapses, teaching trainees to deal with crisis situations in a safe and controlled environment.

Rio trainee Ben Holland said using the simulator was different to any other training he’d done and was a great opportunity.

“The fact that we can do this training before we start work is amazing,” he said. “Using the simulator gives you real life experience in the safety of an office. It’s not often you can get into one of these big machines and learn the systems without being on site. I think it will be hugely beneficial.”

Immersive Technologies regional vice-president of Australia, Greg Karadjian, said the company was preparing the workforces of the future by using blended learning systems, simulation and human performance analytics.

Mr Browne, pictured right, said Rio’s workforce needed to develop new skills as mining evolved.

“We are continuing to invest to ensure our future workforce has the skills needed for the jobs of tomorrow,” he said.

“With this in mind, we’ll continue to ensure up-skilling opportunities are available to our existing workforce, as we attract new workers to the industry who perhaps previously would not have considered a career in mining.”

Among the attractions at Rio’s activation at RTS will be a virtual reality tour of some of the company’s Pilbara operations, a photo booth with the world’s heaviest robot, coding trials and career discussions with company employees.

Woodside Petroleum’s activation will feature “Spot”, a robotic dog developed by Osborne Park-based software robotics company Chironix.

Children Archie Douglas (11), Sailor Douglas (9), Jake Freedman (10) with Minister For Defence Industry Melissa Price view Chironix’s technology.
Camera IconChildren Archie Douglas (11), Sailor Douglas (9), Jake Freedman (10) with Minister For Defence Industry Melissa Price view Chironix’s technology. Credit: Simon Santi/The West Australian

Fortescue Metals Group will give visitors a chance to remotely control a fleet of the company’s autonomous haul trucks.

Fortescue chief executive Elizabeth Gaines said WA’s mining sector was the most innovative in the world and the company’s activation would demonstrate to students and members of the public the cutting edge technology used across its operations.

Sencom’s activation will feature an augmented reality experience, where participants can scan a QR code and be taken on a journey through the stages of the “pit-to-port” mining process.

At the Gold Industry Group’s activation, visitors can play a game which involves building a wind turbine that charges the batteries used to power a miniature car.

Gold Fields superintendent of environment and community Ashleigh Shelton said she hoped the activation would inspire kids who were still in school to consider possible opportunities in the gold industry.

Shell’s activation will include dynamic displays from Supersonic Science, a WA duo who provide science education and entertainment in visually spectacular ways. They will demonstrate the growing shift from fossil fuels to green energy alternatives and the benefits those changes can have.

The ERGT activation will allow visitors to use virtual reality to fly a chopper to an offshore rig.

ERGT general manager of client partnerships Ryan Cotterell said it would be a great opportunity for the public to experience one of the industry’s more thrilling aspects.

Telstra will bring back the ever-popular dancing robots to RTS this year.

Fugro will display a multi-purpose underwater electric vehicle with a live HD feed from two high-quality cameras, used to collect data from the ocean.

INPEX will invite event goers to head to its photo wall where they can dress up in full safety gear and have their photo taken on the Ichthys LNG central processing facility.

The University of WA will set ice on fire as part of its activation at RTS.

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