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Metals & Mining

IIOT-based detector reducing belt downtime by detecting early-stage wear and tear

Key facts

>50%

ROI achieved in iron ore mine

360°

real time visibility of plant assets

Next Steps
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Top business benefits

Increased plant uptime

Reduced OPEX

Reduced risk of plant failure 

Lengthens the life of assets

Improved operational efficiency

This IIOT monitoring system detects early-stage idler wear and tear; it enables mines to pre-emptively replace weak idlers and shells and avoid costly repairs and belt downtime.

In more detail

Full description

Conveyors are integral to the smooth and efficient running of a mine. They transport crushed rock, ore and dewatered concentrate or tailings often over vast distances. Idlers are the key moving parts within the conveyor system. If just one idler starts to show signs of wear or cause damage, it can cause a stoppage or even potentially a fire.

Conveyor down time is one of the biggest concerns for mine operators, it can rapidly slow down or even halt production and seriously impact their bottom line. Some mines invest in multiple conveyors to ensure production can continue should one go out of service.

To minimise delays and damage to operations caused by idler issues, mines rely on replacing idlers at fixed intervals and inspectors continually walking or driving the length of the conveyors to monitor for possible faults. This is labour intensive, expensive and not 100% effective. With conveyors often covering huge distances, not all minor faults are immediately picked up, leading to more significant damage being caused and even belt shutdowns.

This ground-breaking IIOT wireless sensor system continuously monitors the temperature, vibration, rotational speed and shell wear in real-time to pinpoint even early stages of wear and tear. Its deployment eliminates the need for constant manual bearing inspections and significantly reduces conveyor shutdown. This preventative technology highlights minor easily-fixed problems and puts an end to belt failures caused by overlooked faults. It’s cost-effective to install and can reduce maintenance team numbers.

The challenge

Most operators employ teams of inspectors to keep their conveyors in peak operational condition. Manually inspecting miles of conveyors is time-consuming, labour intensive, costly and has remote working safety implications. It is also a significant contributor to plant downtime and lost production; most crucially, it is not failsafe. An idler can be inspected and approved one day and be damaged the next. It may be weeks before that section of the belt is checked again; by which point wear may have reached critical levels.

Left unchecked, worn and damaged idlers in mining operations can bring an entire mining production line to a halt, slowing production and impacting targets, which can serious effect operational profitability.

The approach

Deploying this IIOT sensor system on your conveyor idlers ensures your conveyor network is being constantly monitored for signs of wear and damage.

Sensor probes are fitted on to each bearing. Sensor nodes then encrypt and transmit the sensor probe data, using a low-power wireless network, to a base station covering a radius of up to 8kms. The base station decrypts and collates the sensor node data and when an abnormality is detected, an alert appears on the central user interface dashboard in real time using secure enterprise level cloud infrastructure. This can then be scheduled for repair.

Not only does this drastically reduce major conveyor infrastructure repairs and plant failures, the constant monitoring extends the life of assets by enabling early remediating actions and it frees up the maintenance staff to focus on more critical valuable tasks. The ultimate benefit to the operation is twofold: greater asset uptime and throughput, combined with a lower maintenance cost.

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