Minimize mine site workforce with Vermeer surface miners

In the late 2000s, continuous surface mining machines like Vermeer Terrain Leveler® surface excavation machines (SEMs) started transforming the way many mines operate. At first, mines used surface miners only in areas where drill and blast methods could not be used. Today, as labor markets tighten and mines face increasingly stringent regulations, mine sites are relying on surface miners and automated mining technology to get more done with a smaller workforce.

As surface miners are employed, mine sites need fewer workers onsite because the steps involved in extracting and sizing materials are diminished. In the future, surface miners with automated mining capabilities may be able to further minimize the number of people onsite. Here’s a look at how Vermeer is building toward equipment autonomy at mine sites.

On the road to autonomous mining

With onboard technology advancements, Vermeer is leading the way in simplifying operator control and developing machine automation in a step-by-step fashion. Each new capability is being installed on the machines currently being offered — with performance and safety in mind.

GPS and AutoSteer

Using GPS control, Vermeer surface miners can follow a 3D mine plan of the pit area. Mine surveyors and planners determine the number of cuts necessary — depending primarily upon ore body depth, mine life and mine features — then a 3D mine plan is created using specialized software. This plan typically includes pit slope, ramps, roads and water-management features that will be excavated using a layer-by-layer (flitch-by-flitch) approach. The result is a smooth pit floor with important mine features all cut, as well as the extraction of ore or minerals in valuable production quantities.

GPS control, combined with the accuracy of a GPS base station, guides the Vermeer surface miners through the “cut lines” in the mine plan. The Vermeer AutoSteer feature allows the surface miner to follow the machine’s GPS straight path; it only requires the machine operator to turn the machine around at the end of the pass and align the machine back onto the mine plan for the return pass.

Advantages of AutoSteer:

  • Follows the mine plan exactly
  • Minimizes overlap (reworking of already cut material)
  • Maximizes productivity (minimization of human error and oversteering, consistency of flitches)

Vermeer TEC® Plus electronic control system

While GPS and AutoSteer simplify operations, onboard Vermeer TEC Plus helps ensure the Vermeer surface miners is operating at optimal efficiency. TEC Plus automatically maximizes the transit speed of the machine once cutting depth and drum rotation speed have been determined. TEC Plus also helps protect the integrity of the powertrain.

In addition, a full-function remote control is available for Vermeer surface miners with TEC Plus. This feature allows remote operation of the machine and attachments on inclines or next to high walls or abrupt drop-offs. The operator sits on a mat-style seat switch to operate the attachment functions in work mode from another vehicle, like a pickup.


Another feature of Vermeer Terrain Leveler SEMs is SmartTEC performance software. This software assists operators with adjustments to machine controls by monitoring and recording the machine’s performance, which the machine owner or fleet manager can analyze later, maximizing the machine’s efficiency.

SmartTEC saves operational data during each shift. The amount of time spent in work mode, moving from place to place (TRAM), changing teeth and other parameters can be saved in hour-long increments specified by the manager and operator. The system is designed to operate at 100% engine load. The amount of time spent in each category and the number of times the operator failed to comply with SmartTEC indications are available to both the operator and manager in real-time. This data can also be retrieved for office use via USB from the download screen.

Building for the future

Vermeer is developing machines for the automated surface mining market that are capable of minimizing workforce requirements, automatically and effectively controlling machine movement on the mine site and supporting a safe work environment.

Contact your local Vermeer dealer to learn more about Vermeer surface miners.

Vermeer Corporation reserves the right to make changes in engineering, design and specifications; add improvements; or discontinue manufacturing at any time without notice or obligation. Equipment shown is for illustrative purposes only and may display optional accessories or components specific to their global region. Please contact your local Vermeer dealer for more information on machine specifications.

Vermeer, the Vermeer logo, Terrain Leveler and TEC are trademarks of Vermeer Manufacturing Company in the U.S. and/or other countries. © 2022 Vermeer Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

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