Mining machinery condition monitoring systems

Paul Boughton

Mine production efficiency hinges on minimising downtime across each section of the production chain.

While it may seem easiest to simply restart production as soon as possible, this can leave the root of the problem undiagnosed and uncured – leading to more downtime or costly problems further down the line.

For improved mine production efficiency, a comprehensive machine condition monitoring system is essential, to detect deterioration or changes in the performance of key equipment.

Some of the components of a mining condition monitoring system include:

Vibration sensors to detect changes in motors, conveyors, gear boxes and any rotating machinery.

• Pressure sensors with temperature compensated output, alongside PT100 temperature sensors.

• On-board toxic gas detection modules, as well as flow sensors to confirm the steady supply of any gas or liquid as required.

Data output from these sensing modules can be captured, monitored and analysed from a central control panel on-site or remotely. The key is bringing the information together to be able to make informed decisions.[Page Break]

Hazardous environments

So far, machine condition monitoring within mines has been predominantly mechanical in nature. However, recent research and testing has revealed the potential benefits of electrical monitoring, particularly the currents on the main motors of key equipment such as a cutting machine: maintaining a current below a given threshold can reduce trips, improving the overall tonnage per shift.

Collecting data from electrical systems presents something of a technical challenge, particularly in older equipment from different manufacturers, which may even pre-date Intrinsic Safety certification. It is now possible to integrate machine condition monitoring sensors and control centres with existing cutting machines, fans, conveyors and motors, as a practical and affordable retrofit solution.

Combining of mechanical and electrical condition monitoring plays a key role in improving mining efficiency and safety.
Trolex machine monitoring systems ensure close monitoring for operational efficiency, control and safety and are typically used on:

• Conveyors – Belt and Armoured

• Loader

• Road Headers

• Longwall Shearers

• Continuous Miners

•  Transport – Petito Mule.

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