"I have spoken to many clients, including Antamina, Las Bambas and Chinalco, regarding remote control centers away from the mine site. Even with manually operated trucks, these days there are fewer workers required at site."
What steps did Komatsu - Mitsui Maquinarias del Peru (KMMP) take to deal with the Covid-19 outbreak?
KMMP quickly established a crisis committee to carefully develop protocols and ensure the health and safety of our workers as our main priority, as well as implemented an action plan to re-activate operations after the first months of the lockdown. Parallel to this, in April, we had meetings with leaders of KMMP’s main customers to understand their expectations, safety protocol measures and in conjunction, look for improvement opportunities from all standpoints: health, safety, production efficiency and forward planning. We also reviewed our organization and looked at which KMMP teams could perform remotely and which teams were essential to maintain on-site work. As a result, by August 2020 we had 55% of our workforce working at site or in an office, 33% working remotely, and only 12% on leave. This situation has made the company more agile and creative, as well as bringing us closer to clients due to frequent technical webinars that KMMP is hosting.
Which Komatsu machinery has been in high demand in the Peruvian mining market?
The trend has been that clients are demanding reliability, efficiency (better uptime) and productivity, rather than trying to save capex. Looking at performance from 2019 to 2020, KMMP has had 71% of its sales in Peru from ultra-class trucks. In the last two years, we have delivered 55 of Komatsu’s 320-tonne capacity 930 trucks to Cerro Verde, one of KMMP’s most important projects. We have also introduced the 400-tonne Komatsu 980 truck to several high profile mines in Peru. Komatsu’s line of high-efficiency engines that use less fuel has also been popular. The Common Rail fuel injection system for the QSK 60 MCRS and QSK 78 engines improves engine life, as well as provides a greener, more environmental solution for mining customers.
Can you provide an overview of some of the latest Komatsu technologies?
One of the interesting innovations of recent years is Komatsu’s SMARTCONSTRUCTION integrated autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) – drones that survey a site for project management needs. Another innovation is Komatsu’s FrontRunner Autonomous Haulage System (AHS), which enables manually operated equipment (such as loaders, dozers, graders and light vehicles) to safely interact in an AHS haul truck (AHT) environment. Regarding autonomous trucks, Komatsu now has 13 years of experience, with an active fleet of 240 autonomous trucks globally. In Peru we are exploring the introduction of a fully autonomous 240-tonne truck, which is currently at the prototype stage.
Which working practices do you think the pandemic has accelerated?
The pandemic has accelerated remote work and remote processes, in terms of operations management, including fleet management. I have spoken to many clients, including Antamina, Las Bambas and Chinalco, regarding remote control centers away from the mine site. Even with manually operated trucks, these days there are fewer workers required at site. For projects currently under construction, such as Quellaveco, and new projects to start development in the coming years, the introduction of autonomous technology and remote work will become commonplace.
Can you elaborate on the community and employee-focused programs that KMMP has initiated in 2020?
KMMP has been working with the Operators Club initiative to improve the employability of heavy machinery operators in Peru. We have also implemented virtual conferences for the Technical Education for Communities program, to promote and facilitate careers in our field of business. In 2020 more than ever, we have reinforced the importance of health and safety in the workplace, which has been key to maintaining strong, long-term relationships with clients, employees and local communities.
What is KMMP’s vision for the next 12 months, and do you have a final message for the Peruvian mining community?
The company’s growth strategy is based around the pillars of safety, technical competence, higher productivity, reliability and service. We intend to increase the incorporation of new technologies to mining operations in Peru, including digital solutions such as remote fleet management and the introduction of autonomous trucks.
Peru has been one of the countries that has suffered most during the pandemic, but we hope this experience can make us stronger. Challenging times also bring opportunity and as an industry we must use the tremendous potential of Peruvian mining to generate jobs and revive the economy.