Benbro Electronics has been solving electronic and communications problems in the Australian mining industry for the past twenty years, for example: designing a new antenna for underground radio communication, building radios and software applications for equipment monitoring, improving communications equipment for both line-of-sight and through-the-rock applications and providing customised power control equipment.
“We are problem solvers, by profession,” says John Bennett, director of engineering at Benbro Electronics.
“If clients can accurately describe the problem, we can generally come up with a solution, often within a short time.”
John Bennett relays the story of one client complaining that his R & D people were not thinking outside the box. “What box is that?” John Bennett asked and, within hours, Benbro Electronics had designed a piece of equipment that solved the problem and had a prototype in the client’s hands, three days later.
Understandably, that client has become a regular and loyal customer who looks to Benbro Electronics for innovative designs, to suit particular applications.
One project, still undergoing field trials, is a hose-wear monitor that eliminates the expensive manual inspections of flexible slurry pipes.
This project provided a number of challenges, including the corrosive nature of the environment, the conductivity of the slurry and the metallurgy of the wire, embedded in the pipes.
“Our role was really to design the radio connection equipment and the computer-control software, but we soon got drawn into helping to solve all sorts of other problems,” John Bennett said.
“The whole system relies on sensor wires, embedded in the rubberised material, so that when the rubber wears to a particular point, the sensor wires become exposed and the computerised alarm identifies that section of hose as needing replacement.”
“Unfortunately, we discovered that some rubber compounds that the client was using were actually good electrical conductors and some wires were becoming brittle during the vulcanising process. So, it has been a joint venture, with the client, to solve these problems,” said John Bennett.