Mobilising The Mine Of The Future

Online Editor

Ralf Matke discusses the considerations required for moving the big things

In a world of deeper mines with more complex ore bodies, rising energy costs, infrastructure shortages and resource nationalism, mining companies remain under exceptional pressure to control costs, heighten efficiency and improve safety performance. Although there are no easy solutions, it becomes increasingly apparent that technology will play a growing role in the mine of the future.

Mining applications, from large crushers, roller mills and apron feeders to massive crawler excavators, must withstand heavy-duty operating conditions and, at the same time, be compact, precise, efficient and guarantee safety.

The industrial gearbox product line of ZF answers these requirements. New developments, such as a modular gearbox design, guarantee flexibility and lower costs. “We support our customers with the right product and application know-how, quality and reliability. We use the latest technology developments in the fields of gearboxes, electrification and digitalisation,” says Christoph Kainzbauer, head of industrial gearboxes at ZF. “Facing the current global challenges, the required reduction of resources and energy consumption as well as sustainability, we developed and launched the next generation of planetary drives. With the Redulus4F series, our customers are prepared for the future.”

Future-Proof Power Packs

ZF’s newest Redulus4F gearbox design is designed to be integrated in multiple large applications for the mining industry, such as conveyor systems, apron feeders, grinding or large crushing machines and more.

Various market requirements were considered during the product development. A construction kit offers a solution for multiple customers and applications in different industries. As an example, the gearbox is not only installed in mining equipment but also in high-pressure grinding roller mills and other large industrial applications. The flexible and compact design offers over 2,000 customised possibilities, all guaranteeing maximal output. The new construction kit includes 20 sizes, which supports an optimised selection of torque and size. It delivers up to 40% more torque compared with the previous generation and covers a broad torque range from 100,000Nm up to 6,000,000Nm. In the end, the higher torque capacity enables the firm’s engineers to finetune the gearbox selection with either a smaller gearbox with less weight or with a higher safety margin with an increased lifetime. The total cost of ownership (TCO) is reduced significantly.

Gearboxes For Mobile Applications

It’s not only stationary mining challenges that drive technology; there is also a need for heavy-duty mobile equipment in open pit mines. Cubic metres of material are loaded in one pass. These giant machines must move forcefully but delicately. Robust gearboxes are required to ensure the machine remains reliably in motion.

Based on the Redulus4F for industrial applications, ZF transferred the successful new design philosophy measures to future gearbox generations of its mobile drives, with the verified outcome of significantly higher torque densities per size, shown by GPT4F series. This results in increased lifetime, robustness, availability and efficiency for higher working force.

Remote Monitoring

Mining equipment is always subject to various factors: environment, climate, structure of the substrate and much more. Components could fail that might cause downtime when anomalies are not detected. Condition-based monitoring in maintenance is focused on preventing asset failures, downtime and determining what maintenance needs to be completed and when. It can be considered essential to any predictive maintenance strategy.

The gearboxes are developed with an eye on minimal maintenance efforts. For Redulus4F the easy access to the main components is also linked to ZF’s condition monitoring system, ProVid.

The system is based on many years of application experience and expertise in the field of vibration measurement and additional analysis. Thanks to remote monitoring, continuous status reports are provided worldwide. Kainzbauer comments: “This combination guarantees proactive service planning and fast intervention on a global scale. Any irregularities that may occur in the powertrain are detected at a very early stage and necessary measures are initiated. This way service operations are reduced and machine lifetime and availability will increase.”

Current and future challenges in mining industries ask for intelligent solutions. Thanks to the flexible and powerful designs, these “power packs for the future” answer the needs of a fast-changing market. Together with continuous condition monitoring and global service teams, worldwide availability and fast interventions are guaranteed. 

Ralf Matke is with ZF

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