In today's competitive mining industry, mining companies are continuously striving to find better ways to increase their output and improve production quality while upholding high safety standards, decreasing costs, and protecting the environment. To do this, mining industries need to deploy rugged, reliable automated systems, custom built to be capable of handling hostile environments and intelligent enough to handle a range of operations with little to no human interaction.
One method of producing automated processes like this is with programmable logic controllers; digital computers used for automating industrial processes. Programmable logic controllers are designed for multiple input and output arrangements, extended temperature ranges, immunity to electrical noise, and resistance to vibration and impact, all of which are prominent on a mining site.
Programmable logic controllers are real time systems that continuously monitor input conditions and generate suitable output conditions within a preset time to support smooth operations. They have a range of distinguished advantages over other computer based automation, one of which is reliability since they are programmed to focus on a specific set of operations.
Key benefits of programmable logic controllers include:
- flexibility - one single programmable logic controller can run many machines
- quicker testing - generally testing takes 30% less time
- ease of alteration - changes, testing, and corrections are done faster
- lower cost - programmable logic controllers cost significantly less than electrical components
- space maximisation - programmable logic controller-based equipment occupies less space
- enhanced monitoring and trouble shooting - programmable logic controller applications allow for visual observations of ongoing processes.
- enable tele-monitoring and control of drilling equipment
- ensure a controlled blast through electronic detonation
- automate explosive handling and placement
- manage conveyor belts, buckets or hoists used for ore, and personnel transport
- to enable electronic switching and reduce the use of “fault-prone” components
- monitor transport and carriage systems remotely
- enhance positioning and navigation of equipment.
The benefits of custom programmable logic controllers from include:
- optimisation of each system
- accuracy and reliability
- improved interoperability between systems
- optimal productivity and efficiency
- lower total cost of ownership compared to generic systems
- continuous improvement in efficiency
- easier change management.