Endeavour Awards: Getting ahead of the pack

Manufacturers’ Monthly caught up with Nicky Guenther and Holger Salow, directors and senior engineers from Yumarr Automation, to find out their thoughts on the growing demand for better and safer solutions with automation.

With more than 15 years’ experience in the application of laser scanners, radars and 3D cameras at the manufacturers level, Yumarr is a technology front-runner in the development of automation systems for the mining industry.  The range of solutions that they provide include advanced object detection under harshest environmental conditions, situational awareness, collision avoidance, operator assistance, machine guidance and safeguarding, tunnel and terrain mapping as well as volumetric measurement solutions.

Currently, Yumarr operates from facilities in Australia and Germany. Among the many solutions that they provide, one of their key specialties are taking on customer projects associated with surface and underground vehicle automation and large material handling equipment.

The company places a particular focus on taking on the ongoing challenges within the mining industry. Their systems enable automation in areas where traditionally administrative controls are the only means to separate the person from the hazard, which far too often – due to human factors – does not prevent accidents from happening. Demanding applications in very harsh environment require only the most reliable, robust sensing and computing equipment and in this vein, Yumarr is specialised in perception sensor based automation solutions.

Nicky Guenther mentioned that the company is aware of the growing optimism in the adoption of automation technologies in the industry. He explained that technology is finally catching up with the demanding requirements that enable automation of mobile equipment.

“One example are the advances in perception sensor technology which, together with Yumarr’s outstanding know how and intelligent algorithms, now allows situational awareness and measurement of performance data under harshest conditions like heavy dust and water spray.

“Another example is the interconnectivity of devices such as sensors, controllers and actuators which allows to monitor the operation in real-time and closed loop control,” said Guenther.   

Guenther said that Yumarr possesses the vision to develop and provide systems that significantly reduce the risks faced by people working in mine sites.

“Automation can allow the complete separation of the machine operator from the hostile situation and to monitor and control the machine from a safe remote location,” said≈Guenther.

In one of their first products, Yumarr has used automation to perceive, interpret and safeguard the complex interactions of humans, the machine and the environment, but not to remove the person from the machine.  “JumboGuard”, their automatic boom isolation system for underground drill rigs delivers significant safety benefits for mining companies around Australia.

“Underground drill operators and machine offsiders have one of the toughest and most demanding jobs in the industry. The team of Yumarr is very proud, as JumboGuard plays an important role in allowing operating crews to return safely and healthy from the drill face,” said Guenther.

Meeting industry demands and winning at Endeavour 2017

Holger Salow told Manufacturers’ Monthly that since starting up, they have already got quite a fair bit of business and interest in their solutions.

“For a start-up, Yumarr has experienced a great demand for our smart solutions for automation and machine control which allows us to work with the big players of the industry,” said Salow.

He said that they provide systems for OEMs and customised solutions for end users who have installed and are operating in various surface and underground mine sites across Australia.

“As such we have become technology partner with Rio Tinto in the development of the ‘Drill of the Future’ and developed the situational awareness system for their autonomous drills,” said Salow.

In addition to this, leading equipment manufacturer Atlas Copco uses the object detection and ground profiling system “Pit Viper Guard” which was designed and developed by Yumarr, to fully automate their blast hole drills. 

As for taking the Outstanding Start-Up Award at the Endeavour Awards this year, Salow described it as a great honour for the company.

“It is a great honour for us, especially as a start-up and an enormous acknowledgement from the industry. With so many other outstanding companies and remarkable solutions nominated for this award, it is very encouraging for us and good to see the industry in such a good shape,” said Salow.