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How predictive maintenance and forecasting is halting conveyor downtimes

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Mining companies know only too well the substantial costs associated with unscheduled down time on conveyor operations.

Reining in these costs is now possible through new technology that is being used to manage and optimise conveyor belt efficiency.

Companies such as Rio Tinto Iron Ore, BHP Billiton Iron Ore, and Fortescue Metals are already seeing the benefits of using new technology such as Component Condition Management Software (CcMS), a program developed by Newcastle-based company Productivity Development Solutions (PDS), to battle what has been a pervasive problem throughout the industry.

CcMS manages equipment condition with the result of reducing unscheduled downtime in conveyor operations, and provides better management of maintenance requirements.

Improvements in idler tracking and management

The conveyor idler is one of the highest consistent downtime causes on conveyors. While it is impossible to prevent idler failures, it is possible to control their impact on the business and manage the consequences of the failure.

According to PDS, the new CcMS offers a complete solution to predicting and managing the consequences of idler failure.

The information is captured on ruggedised, handheld devices and relayed via 3G from even the harshest of environments.

This eliminates the need for time-consuming and inconvenient paperwork and minimises inspection and administration costs.

In order to have a comprehensive condition-management-solution, multiple failure detection methods are required.

CcMS is an invaluable solution that ties all this information together into a single point of reference with the capacity to identify trends that need to be targeted with engineering solutions.

Interpreting belt thickness measurements and a moreaccurate belt life prediction

Challenges formanaging conveyor belt thickness can be summarised as follows:

  • Realtime forecasting of predicted belt life and planning for the scheduled belt replacementswith a five year horizon
  • Graphicreporting for the whole business, individual sites or specific belts

PDS states that "CcMS offers dynamic forecasting that may be lacking from the individual reports usually provided".

It integrates factors such as scheduling across multiple shutdown windows, coordinating resources, and managing belt stocks with lengthy lead times, creating a synergy of belt stock management across multiple sites in the same organisation.

Recent advances have added innovative KPI measures such as percentage of remaining cover and tonnes based life prediction.

With their new web-hosted solution they look to extend their capability even further, as it eliminates the problems associated with deploying software across a large organisation. It also allows PDS to provide more timely support and the ability to tailor the software to individual customer requirements.

The company added that it is also currently working with clients to provide solutions for factors such as chain stretch and liners on fixed and mobile plant.

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