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A titan of industry: Load control precision

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The use of data collection and analysis tools is a key technological trend in the mining industry for finding new ways to improve productivity.

New leaps forward in pro­gramming have allowed developers to create systems for collecting information that make it easier to present huge amounts of data in the form of meaningful statistics and visual aids.

Although it's already been released for over a year, the Titan 3330 Production Monitor from LC Products is still a new concept, and is now more important than ever in an economic climate in which we shave down the costs and strive for even marginal increases in production output.

Titan 3330 is a hydraulic excavator and shovel production monitoring and logging system, which presents data in easily readable, statistical and graphic forms, both to the operator and to onsite control rooms. The key to the technology lies in showing the plant operator, whether they're driving an excavator or shovel, precisely how much payload is in the bucket at any one time.

Using a graphic interface in the cabin, the operator can see how many tonnes of material they are dumping into the truck, and how much they need to finish the load.

Until now the payload has only been measurable in the dump truck, but the Titan system is able to weigh the material far more accurately in the bucket, which gives operators the information as they work, and completely prevents unnecessary overloading which would result in the truck having to be dumped and refilled.

The system, when monitored by the operator correctly, can completely eliminate truckloads overfilled to 120 per cent, and reduces the number of 110 per cent overfills.

Plant installed with the Titan system can have up to 95 per cent of truck loads weighed with accuracy within 3 per cent of the actual payload weight.

Results of studies by LC Products have shown a productivity gain of 7 per cent over 40 truckloads, and average gains of 4 per cent over a full shift, or around 120 truckloads.

Consisting of pressure sensors attached to the machine hydraulics, the Titan system can be installed during downtime, saving any need for installation to cut into production time.

The retrofit usually takes around three shifts to complete, with costs starting around $150,000 depending on the type of machine. However, LC Products' main reason for development of the Titan sys-tem was to measure fatigue stress on the actual machine.

The pressure sensors can measure the degree of stress place on steel components of an excavator or shovel, and relay that information to the cabin or supervisor's station in real time. Any differences between driving styles of different operators can be seen represented on a chart, which can alert supervisors to behaviours which will result in more or less maintenance required on the machine.

Even if an operator is achieving faster production, the system can measure if that operator is actually causing more potential damage to the machine, which would result in greater maintenance and downtime costs.

LC Products senior engineer Derek Mulder said the system also has some unintended benefits that have been noticed as the system was tested.

With the addition of DGPS, Titan can measure the exact location of bucket and teeth for each bucket of material.

When this information is plotted 3 dimensionally and compared with the amount of material in each bucketload, it can be used to detect aberrant behaviour by operators which would alert supervisors to a need for retraining. But this same data set can be used to evaluate the results of blasting any particular bench, with a level of detail that was not previously possible.Until now blasting has been evaluated in terms of the production speed of a given bench, but now the Titan system can measure the difficulty with which material is shovelled, by the shovel load, and plot that information on a 3D graph to show the level of fragmentation in the bench.

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