In November 2021, Strata Worldwide announced a strategic partnership with Nerospec SK, a technology firm with a long history of making machines and miners safer, more efficient and more productive with cutting-edge communication, automation, and digitalization technologies.
Nerospec SK developed a line of intelligent machine controllers and data loggers that interface with the mechanics and sensors of heavy machinery. These controllers, or Hubs, collect and wirelessly transmit data off the machines to provide analytics on the current health, maintenance, operating-hours, productivity levels and possible repair requirements of that machine. This data can be used to make safety, production, maintenance and future purchasing decisions based on real-time information.
“Our company has always sought out technology partnerships that allow us to remain nimble and responsive to our customers’ needs,” said Mike Berube, CEO of Strata Worldwide. “We gain insight from our customers to fully understand their markets, then work to provide advanced, customizable systems that provide them with the data, connectivity and safety solutions they need to be successful.”
The digital interfacing technology Strata now offers is OEM-agnostic and tailored specifically in accordance with individual customer requirements. The solutions can be customized for any brand, type, and generation of machine, so fleets with machines from different OEMs can all be connected to the same system.
Digitizing machines add value to mining operations in several ways:
Mine operators can optimize maintenance by monitoring data on nearly any component of the connected machine. This data are real-time values, providing on-the-fly diagnostics. By observing hours of operation, wear, and stress on specific elements, maintenance engineers can proactively plan maintenance instead of reacting when parts fail unexpectedly. StrataHub sensors monitor all essential components, that when maintained properly, will prolong the life of the machinery and save a significant amount of man-hours and unforeseen costs for repairs or possible damage.
Safety is dramatically improved in numerous ways. Firstly, the maintenance monitoring helps ensure machinery is operating in optimum condition. Secondly, the system provides speed-brake interlock which is speed regulation or maximum speed control. This is set according to individualized mining conditions and slope grades. Controlling the maximum travel speed, as well as monitoring the condition and performance of the machine braking systems, mine operators can make adjustments to machine controls and speed parameters to help prevent uncontrolled sliding or runaway incidents.
Thirdly, when equipped with a third-party level 9 proximity detection system (PDS), such as Strata’s HazardAvert, the StrataHub technology monitors how often the PDS intervenes with the machine. This intervention is the automatic slowing or stopping of the machinery when a person or another vehicle breaches its warning zones. Based on the frequency of these interventions, safety managers can make decisions and necessary adjustments in traffic management, proximity warning zone sizes, and personnel safety training.
Data can be collected during daily operations that provide valuable insights into the productivity effectiveness of each machine. The Short Interval Monitoring and Control (SIMAC) capabilities interprets the data and enables engineers to make informed decisions about where and how to deploy machines to maximize production. Calculations can be done on tonnage, run time, trip counting, movement monitoring and more, with detail broken down to the number of times the equipment’s bucket is tipped to dump materials.
With access to information that allows mine officials to compare machines from different OEMs in their specific mining environment, better decisions about capital investments can be made in the future.
Monitoring information on production, fuel consumption, component temperature, tire pressure, and other critical machinery elements means that mine operators have what they need to compare machines and look at short-term or long-term performance trends. Exception reports and other data collected from machines supplement manufacturer recommendations. This allows mine operators to set new guidelines for operation and maintenance based on how machines perform.
They will also be able to work more efficiently with OEMS, using machine data to resolve warranty claims more quickly and make decisions about usage versus feature cost when considering the purchase of new equipment. Detailed machine information can also inform the decision makers whether to refurbish or replace equipment or components.
Having access to the information from connected machines can help mine operators improve the performance of their entire operation; both for machine and human resources. As a training tool, data from machines can ensure that the equipment is used within design limits, reduce risky behaviors by crews, and identify training needs for safe operation of equipment.
“Strata has a global reputation for innovation in underground technologies,” says Mike Berube. “These new intelligent data hubs can revolutionize the way mines manage their costs, their equipment, and their operations. We strongly believe that connected machines are the future of mining.”
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