Simulators: The super videogames of mining


Simulators: The super videogames of mining

A truck the size of a two-story building, a train measuring more than 3 km in length, a vessel with a deck as large as three football fields lined up. If it is hard to picture giant pieces of equipment like this, operating them is an even greater challenge!

Vale uses the 3-D simulator technology to train professionals to operate these super machines that are part of everyday life at our mines, railways, and ports. Besides facilitating learning, simulators allow practical training to be carried out safely. Get to know some of them and enjoy!

Off-road truck

The King of Mines

With the approximate height of a two-story building and a tank that holds 4,500 liters of diesel fuel, the off-road truck is one of the most important pieces of equipment involved in operating a mine. Able to carry up to 380 tonnes in its hopper, its tires measure more than three meters tall. Considering 1.70 m as the average height of an ordinary Brazilian, we would need two adults standing on top of one another only to reach the top of the tire.

Off-road truck simulator
Duration 00:31

Before you get to know this mining giant better, keep in mind that if you are interested in it and would like to have one at home, you will need to shell out $3 million and have a 12-meter long, 7-meter wide and more than 6-meter tall garage available for it.

The driver candidate will have to be ready to drive a mega truck! Sitting in the chair of the simulator, he finds himself in a perfect reproduction of a cabin, having in front of him a virtual space that accurately simulates the area of the mine where he will work. Additionally, in order to enter the select group of super machine pilots, one needs 40 days - about 250 hours - of training and another week of lectures.

X-ray of the off-road truck

Average load capacity:
380 tonnes
Average height: 6.4 meters (height of the average Brazilian: 1.70 meters)
Fuel: Diesel
Fuel tank capacity: 4,500 liters
Average length: 12.8 meters
Size of the tires: 3.3 meters in diameter
Average width: 7.4 meters

Remote control of the largest train in the world

What is the sum of an engine with several cars? The answer: A train! One or more engines are required to move a train. When the composition is very large, more locomotives can be spread between the cars.

Train simulator
Duration 00:25

Operating all this together is only possible thanks to Locotrol, a "remote control" system that integrates the locomotives distributed along the train. The system controls the tension (force) and the synchronized, independent braking, thus avoiding derailment on stretches where there are steep ascents and descents.

For everything to happen perfectly, engineers practice in the engine simulator, which is considered one of the most modern of its kind in the world. It reproduces the entire railroad with precision, with all of its curves and sections. The 3-D image produced is able to show the train's behavior under different weather conditions and to project risk situations such as, for example, animals crossing the tracks at night.

X-ray of the engine

The largest train in regular operation in the world runs on the Carajás Railroad (EFC)
Three engines pulling 330 cars, forming a 3.3-kilometer long train
The train carries 33 billion tonnes of iron ore in a single trip, equivalent to a thousand trucks

Super machine that fills the planet's largest ore carriers with ore

To take our ore to all continents, Vale has a fleet of very large ships, among them the Valemax - the world's largest ore carrier. Capable of carrying about 400 tonnes of iron ore per trip, the ship has seven hulls to store the load. Each of them is as big as a tennis court.

Reclaimer simulator
Duration 00:24

That said, it is easy to see that operations at our ports are complex and require a lot of technology. The reclaimer is one of these heavy-duty devices, measuring up to 39 meters in height (equivalent to an 8-story building). It removes the ore from the piles at the stockyard at the port and feeds the conveyor belts which, in turn, feed the ship loader.

The reclaimer simulator accurately reproduces the yards at our ports around the world. The software simulates the recovery of iron ore, coal, and pellets under different conditions, such as rain, fog, strong winds, and even machinery defects.

X-ray of the reclaimer

Height: 39 Meters
The operation is fully automatic and monitored by the Control Center
Capacity: 9,000 tonnes
Sprockets remove ore from the piles at the courtyards

Engineering Center

Train simulator cabin

At our Engineering and Logistics Centre, we have a range of modern simulators (known by Portuguese acronym CEL) that offer railway and port technical training to Vale employees and other market professionals.

With branches in Brazil (Vitória, São Luís and Minas Gerais) and Mozambique, the centre has already trained 25,000 people since the inauguration of its first unit in 1997.

Model railway
Duration 01:08

The CEL has simulators in the areas of railway and port operations and maintenance. One of the highlights is a large model of our train routes to facilitate learning (watch the video to the side), as well as a software program that virtually demonstrates all of the parts of a locomotive engine.

The centre also contains simulators for port equipment, such as stackers, reclaimers and rotary car dumpers: all fundamental in the loading and unloading of Vale’s ships.