Virtually everything in today's mining industry is done on a gigantic scale, with vast mining deployments on most continents producing everything from coal, ore and minerals to other natural resources. To be operationally efficient and productive, these sites must work around the clock and minimise downtime due to machine breakdowns.
For mine sites located deep in the Australian outback often the only way to ensure a connection to the outside world and to training, assistance, updates and maintenance services is through 24/7 Internet connectivity.
As a result mining operations in Australia and elsewhere have turned to wireless technology to alleviate the operational and financial issues caused by machine breakdowns. By streamlining communications and providing real-time telemetry problems can be identified and stopped before they cause costly operational shutdowns and delays.
The remote access functionality of Advanced Robotic Technology 's machines can assist in alleviating operational and financial issues on remote mining sites. The company notes that the advantages of interactive networking with its CNC routers, plasma cutters and the new Metaltek modular multifunction CNC machining systems can be seen in three categories: before, during and after production or operation.
Before a job is started, the remote access technology can provide job scheduling and production control, with the ability to access tooling databases, verify CAD/CAM or train operators, among other functions.
During machine operation the direct connection to ART's headquarters in Brisbane can provide remote diagnostics and remote operation, enabling real-time monitoring of position, program and displays from any PC on the network. Machine data can be efficiently gathered and remote monitoring at the management and supervisory level is also possible.
After a job is completed, ART can provide data for productivity analysis along with a permanent record of all machine data before, during and after completion of the job.
One area where PC-based control in remote operations such as mines or oil and gas fields is particularly advantageous is serviceability. A lot of a machine's functionality is determined by software, so when that software is externally accessible via the Internet it becomes possible for troubleshooting diagnostics as well as software upgrades to be executed remotely.
ART's ProfileShop V3 touchscreen controller features a diagnostics screen that provides readouts on internal machine information. It displays:
- gas selections
- inlet pressures
- flow settings
- temperature; and
- coolant flow.
This enables users to secure a significantly greater measure of ART's repair and application support without the physical presence of a service technician. By combining remote PC access software with multimedia capabilities, the ProfileShop V3 controller allows a service technician to examine virtually any aspect of control functionality as well as many aspects of the machine itself - regardless of where the machine is physically located - while also interacting with the machine operator via voice and video links.
The service engineer can then diagnose and troubleshoot problems or issues with the machine, decreasing service times by providing accurate and real time information.