/Predictive maintenance for conveyors

Aura IQ uses fiber optic cable and revolutionary photonic sensing technology, integrated with advanced signal processing algorithms and predictive analytics, to monitor and proactively track the health of the rollers along mining conveyor belts to ensure that they are in stable condition and not at risk of failure. Damaged rollers can be a major source of fire hazard and resulting productivity down time. Aura IQ was designed and tested in partnership by Australia-based and ASX listed Future Fibre Technologies and leading mining industry research organization, Mining3.

The Aura IQ system predicts which components on the conveyor will need repair before they break down, allowing an operation to be proactive in its repair schedule.

“Strata Worldwide is always working on improving the efficiency of our customers’ operations and minimizing downtime,” says Mike Berube, Strata’s CEO. “We know that the traditional method for checking belts manually is time-consuming, hard work. The Aura IQ technology takes the burden off the workers and the guesswork out of maintenance.”

Aura IQ monitors, diagnoses, tracks and reports on the progressive state of wear of conveyor rollers. The data is gathered from every roller linestand on the conveyor and is processed into real time reports on the entire belt, roller-by-roller and bearing-by-bearing. The system alerts operators in operational hubs or control rooms to potential failures before they happen.

Roller wear can be the root cause of issues such as belt slippage, mistracking, splice strain, and motor/pulley overload conditions. Roller failure also has the potential to cause explosions or fires due to the excessive friction and heat build-up resulting from a ceased roller.

Failures cause significant delays for an operation while maintenance workers seek out the location of the problem and work to repair it. With the Aura IQ system’s predictive maintenance capability, operators can see which sections of the belt need attention and plan downtime for repair or replacement before parts fail.

In addition to protecting equipment from failure, Aura IQ also protects the health and safety of workers who currently must walk many kilometers along the belt for maintenance. ‘Walking the belt’ for visual and auditory inspection is tiring and subjective and becomes virtually impossible in bad weather and challenging geographies.

Predictability and reduced downtime for maintenance show a rapid return on investment.

“In a South African coal mining operation, the trial installation of Aura IQ substantially reduced planned and unplanned maintenance, reduced man hours for monitoring and maintaining conveyors, and prolonged the life of rollers,” reported Andrew Hames, Head of Innovation for Future Fibre Technologies, an Ava Rick Group company. “The mine operator achieved a 92 percent success rate on Key Performance Indicators and annual cost savings of $5.11 million USD. The company also saw a 4 percent gain in efficiency and a Return on Investment of 5.4 months.”

“We are thrilled to offer this technology to our mining and tunneling customers throughout the globe,” said Mike Berube. “We are very well-known for our leading collection of underground communication and monitoring networks, and now the Aura IQ system adds belt safety and maintenance to our advanced technology offerings.”

Research on the Aura IQ technology began in 2016, and the system became available for commercial application in late 2019. Aura IQ can be used on conveyors both above and below ground.