More than ever mining operators, contractors, equipment and technology companies are working together to optimise mining operations by way of intelligent mining. There is a unified emphasis on doing things smarter during the mining and haulage process, which has become apparent as companies adopt new technologies, equipment and processes onsite.
But what does this mean in terms of the haulage process and how do mine operators achieve optimal productivity when shifting large amounts of loose bulk materials 24/7?
The answer is hidden between efficiency and profitability. One striking common denominator is the effectiveness of loading both mining haul trucks and rail wagons without overloading; whilst also identifying carry back on the return.
Every mining company that relies on weighing, strives to increase production efficiency whilst maintaining accuracy to increase profit. It’s simple isn’t it? You weigh something quicker per day, you weigh more each week and you increase profit annually.
If only it was that simple. Weighing items in-motion whilst maintaining accuracy is a highly specialised ability and there are only a handful of companies around the world that can genuinely offer the flow on effects of accuracy, speed and reliability to increase overall profit.
As a renowned innovator of accurate weighing systems for both the international mining and rail sectors, Trakblaze Pty Ltd is one such company. Trakblaze has also embraced the transition to intelligent mining by offering operators the ultimate package to weigh their fleet of autonomous or driver assisted mining vehicles and rail wagons, through the coupling of real-time volumetric laser scanning and advanced loadcell based weighbridge technology.
Today, mine operators are utilising intelligent systems to better understand their mining practices. They now intrinsically have the opportunity to combine weighing and measuring systems to both visually and accurately understand their loose bulk haulage process, from pit to load out at unbeatable speeds; utilising Volumetric Scanning in symmetry with a Mine Weighbridge Scale.
MINING HAUL TRUCKS
Stripped to their essential job, mining haul trucks are just big machines designed to withstand a large mass load that delivers loose bulk material from point A to point B and repeats.
However, inherently mining haul trucks are extremely costly and, although the haulage of loose bulk loads may seem like a simple exercise, there are obvious load restrictions and maintenance scheduling issues that need to be complied with to ensure they are running efficiently.
Too often in the endeavour to increase their bottom dollar, mining companies unknowingly compromise their profitability through either;
a. Poor practices
b. Overloading (increasing safety and maintenance costs), or
c. Slow transition of weighing autonomous / driver assisted fleet of mining haul trucks.
The efficient use of each truck can be vastly improved through maximising the volume of loose bulk material that the tray can carry without overloading the truck, all whilst maintaining higher consistent speeds from point A to point B.
The development of laser volumetric scanning technology now makes it possible to measure the in-situ volume of individual mining haul trucks and then directly report this to a remote mining operations centre or a manned station in real-time.
Passing beneath a laser head, each mining haul truck tray is scanned and referenced by sophisticated software resulting in a volume estimation, generated by 3D profiles and numerical references.
Basically a volumetric estimate is obtained by subtracting the 3D surface of the empty tray from the 3D surface of the full tray. Although this is theoretically simple, it requires significantly complex mathematical algorithms in calculating the individual vehicle, known speed, orientation of each tray and comparison of an empty tray model whilst analysing the loaded mining haul truck.
The additional benefit of volumetric scanning is the ability to match the shovel sizing and positioning against the volume in each mining haul truck tray and therefore establish the most efficient combination. The perfect match will ultimately result in:
a. Greater Load Distribution, by characterising the centre of gravity of each load
b. Improved Shovel-profiling, used to estimate tray utilisation, and
c. Reduced Maintenance & Safety Costs, associated with overloading
Whilst volumetric scanning is the new era of improved efficiencies in mining technology, it is however unpredictable in translating accurately reliable weighting measurements of mining haul trucks; owing to the loose bulk material environmental changes in density and moisture composition.
To overcome these volumetric weighting inaccuracies, a reliable and industry proven weighbridge is still the most effective operational measuring device; as even onboard mining haul truck weighing systems require a weighbridge for comparison, validation and certification.
Both a volumetric scanner and an accurate mining haul truck scale are considered optimal and invaluable measuring instruments. Having both is essential when considering best practices in processing the mining and haulage of loose bulk loads.
Indeed, an accurate and industry proven reliable weighing system is essential for operational efficiency, cost control, regulatory compliance, and profit management of all mines.
Inevitably most mining sites will have a weighbridge; they are undoubtably crucial to the mining industry. But why are weighbridges the unsung backbone to understanding mine haulage operations?
Nowadays quality and accurately proven industry weighbridges provide exact weight data and portable mining weighbridges such as Trakblaze’s FORCE 2&4 mining haul truck scales. Trakblaze’s FORCE 2&4 mining haul truck scales are modular which allows for the additional and critical information such as individual wheel loads, to be shown; priceless data when comparing volumetric scanning data in identifying load imbalances.
Load imbalances are quiet and often unseen discrepancies that cause both safety concerns and increase unnecessary vehicle componentry stress, which will eventually lead to failure, downtime and unsightly costs.
Having more accurate weight data means you can keep closer track of your payloads, obtain precise measurements of incoming and outgoing materials, and maximise the load capacity of mining haul trucks without overloading.
Thanks to software and technological advances, mining weighbridges such as the FORCE 2&4 by Trakblaze, are able to reliably and accurately weigh mining haul truck at greater speeds, up to 12kph or 7.5mph. Accurately weighing total truck, axle and individual wheel weights at this speed has not been achievable by any other scale company.
Furthermore, mining weighbridges can be customised to provide the best solution for your site, irrespective of site conditions. The bolt on accessories now available for weighbridges are almost endless, for example – Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), LED weight displays, traffic lights, boom gates and light automation.
Most commonly mining weighbridges are installed in the ground however there are many mine sites also operating with above ground weighbridges. The preference of weighbridge installation is typically resolved on environmental factors and operational requirements. Owing to the management of loads constantly travelling across weighbridges, they are typically constructed of heavy-duty steel to sustain the magnitude of mass load weight.
A common overlooked issue regarding mining weighbridges is its nemesis – dust and water. Dust & water ingression is usually the greatest demise of any weighbridge as it can harm accuracy and or catastrophically incapacitate the weighbridge should electronic components be compromised. It is important to overcome this by understanding the product itself, consider IP Ratings, dust / waterproof enclosures for componentry, the site location, environmental factors and water drainage and runoff.
Real- time truck and rail volumetric scanning in combination with the use of weighbridge scale technology, is undoubtedly the ultimate measuring system to accurately monitor payloads and carry back for increased profitability.
In addition to improving operational efficiency and payload accuracy, the use of combined systems also identifies not only common overloading issues but also incorrect shovelling and load profiling; both common issues associated with safety, component stress / fatigue and largely and overall increase maintenance costs.
Volumetric Scanning and Mining Weighbridges are ‘the symmetry of intelligent mine weighing’…