An eye on maintenance

REAL-time scanning and analysis technologies are emerging as a valuable tool in the maintenance of equipment on minesites and plants, preventing damage by monitoring elements that can cause or increase wear on equipment.
An eye on maintenance An eye on maintenance An eye on maintenance An eye on maintenance An eye on maintenance

The Coppabella coal mine in Queensland's Bowen Basin supplies 30% of the global pulverised coal injection market.

Christine Feary

Scantech’s David Lidberg said the company’s original conveyor belt analysers were developed with the coal industry 30 years ago to improve the quality of coal for export.

Since the first on-belt scanners, Scantech has developed similar products for the cement and minerals industries.

Its flagship coal product is an online ash monitoring system that can be installed under production conveyor belts. Other products are Geoscan, for monitoring bulk materials such as limestone and iron ore; Ironscan, to derive the composition of conveyed iron ores; and Goldscan, designed to recover gold ores from conveyed waste rock.

It is the only analyser with the ability to measure ash content in applications with thick coal beds, and does not contain any nucleonic sources, removing the need for a radiation licence to operate it.

Scantech’s on-belt scanners also can help reduce wear and damage to conveyor belts by helping maintain even flow and standard particle sizing.

Normal wear and tear on conveyor belts can increase when large rocks or lumps of material fall onto them, and when uneven material builds up in places, causing bottlenecks in the material flow.

Another company offering scan products to help maintain equipment is Scanalyse, which was established in 2005 with support from Curtin University and the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information.

Scanalyse’s first product, MillMapper, was developed in response to a lack of suitable measurement and analysis tools for mill liner wear. It is based on terrestrial laser scanners, which are able to rapidly capture large amounts of surface data within an enclosed space, such as a grinding mill.

Sales and marketing manager Doug Lawford said the design of liners installed in a mill and the way they wore was critical to the mill’s results.

“If the liners are worn down very badly, the mills will reduce their output or the product will not be ground properly. There’s a whole host of things that will cause the process to not be ready for the next stage,” he said.

MillMapper can also be used to determine the best liner for a mill, which can maximise throughput and reduce energy consumption.

Scanalyse aims to improve production from mills by simplifying the measurement process.

In the past, mill liner wear has been measured by taking thickness measurements from a number of points in the mill while it is out of operation and averaging the results.

Using three-dimensional laser scanning, Scanalyse can provide measurements from 7 million points and assess the overall wear on the mill liner from those results.

Because MillMapper works faster than previous methods of liner wear measurement, it reduces mill downtime and prevents unnecessary liner changes. It also can prevent damage to the mill itself, by ensuring it has adequate protection and that the liner has not worn through.

MillMapper has been used on many Australian minesites, with clients including BHP Billiton, Xstrata and numerous processing plants. Scanalyse is expanding its market to include sites in Indonesia, Canada and Chile.

Published in the November 2009 Australia’s Mining Monthly

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