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Plant & Equipment

Mine production monitoring

An opinion from Steve Clayton, Trolex expert in Russia

ine production systems are

complex and they depend
upon several sections of equipment.
A breakdown or stoppage on one
equipment section will almost always
cause other sections to come to
a halt. It is at this point when the
production cost / tonne of mined
material starts to rise significantly and
true efficiency is lost.
Conveyors, transfer points,
crushers, skip loading and hoisting
sections are some of the many
elements in the material handling
system which may represent single
points of failure and cause the cutting
machinery to be stopped
Condition monitoring of the
mechanical elements, through the
sensing of vibration and temperature,
for example, enables preventative
maintenance. Advances in compact
intrinsically safe (IS) monitoring
systems coupled with mine
communications networks which can
transport data quickly around the
mine up to the management system
make preventative maintenance
increasingly more effective as a tool
to maximise production.
Remote monitoring of the electrical
systems to analyse why faults have
occurred can prove more problematic.
Frequently, the stoppages happen


for the same reason over and over

again. To resume production as
quickly as possible, drives, circuit
breakers and other elements of the
electrical system are reset,but often
the root-cause of the problem is either
not identified or just accepted as one
of those things that happens as part
of the production routine.
To get a grip on these problems
requires data to be captured rapidly
to work out what happened first after
a fault has occurred. Of course, the
biggest gains come from preventing
a fault, or trip, from occurring in the
first place which is what good mine
production monitoring systems are all
Experience with coal production
monitoring systems completed in
recent years shows that by monitoring
the currents on the main motors of
cutting machinery, and keeping them
on the right side of the red line, can
produce significant increases in
tonnage / shift compared to cutting
too deeply or too fast. The production
lost due to trips arising from over
cutting outweighs any short-tem gains
The technical challenge lies in
finding ways to extract the data from
the electrical systems of different
manufacturers equipment. Few
companies would want to replace

Steve Clayton MD, Promtex

whole sections of equipment with
the sole aim of adding a modern
monitoring system.
For example part of the technical
challenge is to extract data from
within equipment employing
flameproof (FLP) explosion protection
techniques and transfer this safely
into IS systems as a retrofit solution.
A whole range of technical
advances in the IS monitoring
systems and interfacing techniques
now make this an entirely practical
and affordable proposition.
Combining monitored information
from both mechanical and electrical
system elements onto a common
data highway is a powerful tool in the
battle to reduce the cost of production
and increase efficiency.

Coal International July/August 2012

CI July_August 2012.indd 62

18/06/2012 08:39:52