Smooth operators. The balance between productivity improvement and machine health.

Getting the balance right between optimising loader productivity and minimising machine damage is a common challenge for mining companies worldwide.

MineWare CEO Andrew Jessett believes effective machine damage management is one of the key dimensions to loader productivity directly under the loading operators’ control.

“Continual loading, unloading and vibration all take their toll on the machine and its components,” he said.

“A doubling in machine load can equate to up to an eight-fold increase in damage.

“We know that smooth, competent loader operation can and does outperform rough operation.

“It yields higher production rates and significantly less machine damage.”

Jessett said it’s important to consider the potential impact on machine health before embarking on any productivity improvement initiative.

“When we consider production in isolation, the operating availability of a machine can suffer, resulting in an overall deficit due to lost digging time.”

Real-time machine health monitoring systems are highly effective in maximising loader productivity without compromising the goal of minimising machine damage.

“A high proportion of machine damage is a function of equipment vibration and impact loading,” said Jessett.

“By analysing vibration and providing operators the key metrics, in real time, we can effectively minimise machine damage.

“It’s extraordinary to see how small reductions in vibration equate to significant savings in component life.”

MineWare’s Argus shovel monitoring system achieves this by recording real-time strain gauge data. Argus reports a cycle-by-cycle stress factor that indicates how rough or smooth operators are handling the machine.

The system displays each operator’s rate of damage to the machine as they are operating and contrasts that with the average levels for the machine.

“Our historical information demonstrates that variations between operators are common,” said Jessett.

“By reducing variation in operator performance, Argus can improve the reliability of mining machines availability and reduce unscheduled maintenance.”

Argus helps to involve operators in the process of machine damage management by providing them with real-time feedback, overload alarms as well as full load and stress analysis.

“We can provide this information directly to operators on board as well as supervisory staff in the office,” he said.

“By keeping operators informed and supported, they can continually improve their loading techniques and attitudes to smooth the operation and increase overall productivity.

“This ultimately minimizes its effect on machine availability but not at the cost of production.”

Combining in-pit loader technology with mine planning and scheduling, MineWare’s Argus solution now integrates with RPM Global’s short-term scheduling solution Xecute.

This product integration enables mine planners and equipment operators to compare planned production activities against what’s happening on site in real-time.

Xecute and Argus create a living mine plan that continually evolves and closes the feedback loop between mine planning, scheduling and operations to maximise productivity through greater control, flexibility, and predictability.


Supporting information – mining case study