Product Managers Work To Get Mining Vehicles To Go Electric

If product managers can make mining vehicles electric then there will be many benefits
If product managers can make mining vehicles electric then there will be many benefits
Image Credit: benketaro

How would you feel about taking on a challenge? Yes you say? Well good – I’ve got one for you. A very big one. The companies that dig minerals out of the earth have a real problem on their hands. They use a lot of different vehicles to accomplish their work and currently all of these vehicles run exactly the same way that the car that you drive to work does – using a combustion engine. As you can well imagine, if you are operating in an enclosed underground area, the exhaust fumes are bad, the impact on the environment is bad, and the cost of keeping all of those vehicles running is bad. These companies want a better solution and that’s what a group of product managers is trying to use their product development definition to provide them with.

Electric Vehicles Come To The Mines

How can product managers help mining companies become more efficient and do a better job of polluting less? The product managers believe that the answer is for the mining companies to go electric. The product managers are proposing that the mining companies start to use electric drills, loaders, and utility vehicles instead of the diesel vehicles that they are using now. The mining company’s interest in making this change comes from their desire to reduce emissions and eliminate the exhaust fumes that are currently polluting the air in the underground spaces which in turns risks the miner’s health.

The holy grail in this electrification of mining equipment are what are called the “haul trucks”. These are the heavy-duty haul trucks that carry tons of ore out of the bottom of the mining pits. The challenge that is facing product managers is that in order to match the enormous power that is put out by their diesel engines, an enormous electrical power pack would have to be created. Although there is no clear answer for how this vehicle can go electric, all of the other vehicles that are used in a mine are prime candidates for becoming electric vehicles.

Product managers who are working with mine owners realize that they are both up against a key issue that make adopting the new technology a bit of a struggle. What is going on is that the electrical vehicle technology is evolving very quickly. What can be done today is nothing in comparison to what will be possible tomorrow. As the technology rapidly advances, this is leaving customers in a bit of a bind. Purchasing an electric vehicle can be compared to purchasing a laptop. By the time that the customer is able to get the new vehicle deployed in their mine, there is a very good chance that it will already be outdated. A challenge like this can make it hard to add a success to your product manager resume.

Next Steps For Electric Vehicles In The Mines

Product managers are dealing with other issues that may cause customers to hold off on buying their electrical mining vehicles. One of the biggest drawbacks to this new technology is its price tag. Currently, electric mining vehicles can cost from anywhere from 40% more to 3x as much as a comparable diesel powered mining vehicle.

Product managers are working with their customers trying to convince them that even at this early stage in the game, purchasing an electric mining vehicle is a good move. A key point is that the running costs of an electric vehicle are lower. An interesting point that product managers try to point out is that up to 40% of a mine’s energy costs are related to powering the ventilation systems that are used extract pollutants from tunnels.

Mining companies may be motivated to make the jump to using electric vehicles based on a push that they are getting from customers and investors. Simply put, they want the mining companies to clean up their act. The push is to get the mining companies to reduce their carbon footprints. When a mine takes a look at where its emissions are coming from, what they generally discover is that diesel contributes roughly 1/3 of it. At the same time federal regulators are getting involved because they are concerned about the health of the workers who are spending their time around the diesel machines.

What All Of This Means For You

Product managers who are responsible for providing machinery to companies who dig mines are looking at their product manager job description in order to come up with new types of products to provide to their customers. Mining companies are starting to become concerned about issues such as pollution and so they are open to having discussions about using new types of vehicles in their mines.

What the product managers are proposing is that the mining companies start to use electric vehicles in their mines. This will reduce emissions and eliminate the exhaust fumes. The ultimate goal is to find a way to electrify the very large haul trucks. One of the big challenges with going electric is that as soon as a new electrical vehicle is deployed in the mine, it may already be obsolete. The new electrical vehicles are also very expensive. However, the cost of running them is less than running a diesel vehicle. Mine owners may move towards using electrical vehicles because their customers and investors want them to shrink their carbon footprint.

Change is coming – even to the mining industry. Product managers realize this and they want to be the ones who provide the mine owners with the products that they are going to need. It appears as though there may be a good fit between electric vehicles and the need to operate in underground enclosed areas. However, the very large trucks still pose a big challenge. Electric mining vehicle product managers will be successful if they can lower their prices and solve the challenge of how to make the big trucks electric.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that using multiple smaller trucks might solve the need for big mining trucks?

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