Rio Tinto’s Experience with Automation Improving Safety for Employees and Creating Value

Published: March 15,2021



Automation has been part of the Rio Tinto business for more than a decade, and it helps us run safer,more efficient, and low-cost operations. We are removing driver error and improving safety by increasing the automation of trucks, drills, and trains.

This case study covers:
1. How virtual reality has helped prevent dangerous situations
2. Context on some of the autonomous operations at Rio Tinto
3. Key learnings around communications and change management during the automation andtechnology journey
4. Partnerships with education and training institutions to enable the workforce of the future
5. How migrating some skills over to robots keeps people safe and productive

Virtual Reality Training

Imagine learning how to drive an 85-tonne truck or heading underground for the first time surrounded by a lot of noise and huge machinery. By using simulators, we can create safe, real-life ways to train our truck, drill, and train operators. Rio Tinto also uses simulators to train more experienced operators for emergencies they may not have encountered before. They can learn first-hand what steps to take during a fire, without having to inhale any smoke.

At Oyu Tolgoi in Mongolia, we are using virtual reality as part of site inductions. New employees practice important tasks, like finding the correct safety gear for a job and locating underground refuge chambers in an emergency. We are also educating employees about critical risks and the steps we can take to prevent dangerous situations.

We have found using virtual reality for training helps people to better remember what they learn – which makes our sites safer and more productive.

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