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Maclean Leverages Underground Lab to Accelerate Development of Next-Gen EV, Remote Control, Autonomous Mining Vehicles

The 2015 introduction of the MacLean EV SeriesTM of zero DPM, low maintenance, low heat, low noise, data-rich, high performance mining vehicles was the start of a new era of MacLean product development focused on long-term shifts in an industry looking to improve productivity and safety, and bring down costs.

With the acquisition of an underground testing and training facility in 2018 (the MacLean Research and Demonstration Centre in Sudbury, Ontario), MacLean accelerated its innovation efforts. Now close to a quarter the company’s engineering resources are dedicated to developing tech-enabled electrification and automation mining vehicle solutions, out of an Advanced Vehicle Technology (AVT) group working at the company’s underground R&D lab.

Since the launch of its full-fleet electrification program, MacLean has gone on to manufacture and commission over 30 battery electric mining vehicles (BEVs) – all working underground in Canada, at ten minesites, across four provinces, with 50,000+ operating hours amassed to date. MacLean is building on this BEV ‘network effect’ as the push for diesel-free underground mobile fleets continues to gain momentum around the globe.

The company’s approach to engineering battery powered mobile equipment for the underground mining environment starts with onboard charging, which has been integrated across MacLean’s product suite of diesel-free units in the ground support, secondary reduction, and utility vehicle product categories. The onboard charging design philosophy behind the MacLean EV Series has been proven out in the years since the launch of the product line, as it eliminates barriers to introduction (no additional charging infrastructure required) and provides the highest degree of flexibility for production support duty cycle requirements in underground mining.

The other benefit of four years of underground experience in servicing and supporting EV fleets in Ontario is the company’s learnings with regard to maximizing the benefits of the MacLean EV Series vehicle monitoring system (VMS). The proprietary telemetry technology provides operators with screen-based, real-time data in the BEV units’ cabs and allows MacLean technicians and engineers to remotely tie-in through a cloud-based dashboard where real-time performance and battery health data can be accessed, remote troubleshooting conducted and, if necessary, expert EV technical support dispatched to site in a timely and responsive manner.

The next chapter in MacLean’s electrification and automation product development is currently being written and the results will be unveiled at the recently rescheduled MINExpo convention now slated for September 2021 in Las Vegas, building on the launch of the MacLean BEV 975 Omnia rock bolter at the last MINExpo four years ago.

“A lot has changed around the world since 2016 but the one thing that hasn’t changed is the business case for the BEV switch,” noted MacLean VP of Marketing and Communications, Stuart Lister. “If the total cost of ownership of a battery powered MacLean unit compared to an identical diesel-powered unit is essentially the same over the full life of that mining vehicle, why wouldn’t you make the switch to a zero emissions, low heat, lower maintenance option, one that performs just as well or better than the diesel version?


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