Automation offers the mining industry great potential for improvements in productivity and safety. However, the experience of introducing automation in other industries has been that the full potential of new technology is not always realized. Designers are surprised, for example, to find that automation does not eliminate human errors. Unwanted and unexpected consequences also arise if the introduction of automation fails to consider how people will adapt to the new technology. A focus on the technical aspects of automation is necessary but not sufficient for success. The potential for improvements in productivity and safety promised by automation will only be achieved if the joint cognitive system that emerges from the combination of humans and automation is designed to perform the functions required for system success. Human-systems integration is the process by which human characteristics, abilities and limitations are incorporated within the design life-cycle to optimise performance and minimise costs. This program of work aims to develop tools and techniques for ensuring the optimal implementation of new technologies within the mining industry. 

Report published:

Human-system integration risk assessment for automation in mining

Maureen Hassall, Ben Seligmann, Robin Burgess-Limerick, Danellie Lynas, and Joel Haight (University of Pittsburgh)

The objective of the project was to answer the question: What risk assessment techniques deliver the most effective and user accepted means of identifying risks associated with human-system interactions in remote-controlled and autonomous mining operations? Four hazard identification methods were assessed across three case studies – human-autonomous surface haulage interactions, autonomous longwall mining and remote control of processing plants. Feedback from the participants and analysis of workshop information suggest that no single approach is effective alone across the range of automation case studies. A combination of different methods could be the best way forward, however it may be that only parts of each method need to be combined with parts of another. The report is the outcome of a project undertaken with funding of $255,500 from Maules Creek Coal Pty Ltd as part of an Enforceable Undertaking made by the company to the NSW Resources Regulator.