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ECA Group successfully demonstrates Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) system for Aluminium smelters

Friday, March 15 2019
During a two-days’ workshop, ECA Group with its partner Rio Tinto, has successfully tested and operated one of the world’s first Self Driving Vehicle for anodes transport, which will be soon delivered to Liberty Aluminium Dunkerque plant.

Everyday operations into a high technology, modern Aluminum smelter require hundreds of transportation of heavy equipment, like anodes pallets and metal crucibles. This heavy logistic is complex and costly.

ECA Group specializes in automation and robotics for industry and hostile environments for over 50 years. ECA Group masters all the phases of complex System Engineering, such as designs, FEM calculations, on-site integration, tests, reports, Integrated Logistic Support and long term maintenance planning and execution.

In partnership with Rio Tinto, ECA Group has recently developed an Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) a robotic technology dedicated for industry logistics applications in order to make these process more cost efficient and safer.

This solution is dedicated to the autonomous management of the heavy loads in a smelter. It consists of a fleet management system and of one or more Self Driving Vehicles of different types specifically adapted for anodes or metal crucibles transportation.

In 2018 ECA has designed a first industrial AGV for anode transportation to be used in Liberty Aluminium Dunkerque plant.

During the acceptance tests, in February 2019, ECA Group took the opportunity to demonstrate the AGV Vehicle and its management system in operation.

Rio Tinto teams as well as several future customers from Canada could appreciate the reliability as well as the safety of this system. The technical solution of the safety virtual bumper keeps pedestrians and other vehicles in the smelter from any danger.  

Another important unique feature of AGV systems is that it is fitted with a SLAM-type (Simultaneous localization and mapping) navigation system.

This system works perfectly either INDOOR or OUTDOOR, it allows high accuracy localization and that is completely independent from any external device (like satellites for the GPS or reflectors for laser positioning systems).

ECA Group designed, manufactured, tested and provided fine tune and support of this AGV system.

ECA Group worked alongside its mining industrial partner Rio Tinto and in particular, Aluminium Pechiney Technology team in Voreppe, close to Grenoble during all the phases of the project, from the feasibility study up to the installation of the AGVs and the Fleet Management System.


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